The Edge-to-Edge crown belongs to the mainland this year as Richmond B.C.’s Torn Grabi took Sunday’s top honours.
Grabi, whose time of 3 hours 20 minutes and 46 seconds bested second place finisher Dave Small of Victoria by over four minutes, told the Westerly he knew he was running well during the first half of the 42-kilometre race and his confidence and enjoyment grew when he reached the course’s trail portion.
“I love trail running and enjoyed it the whole way,” he said. “The rugged scenery of Ucluelet is awesome. The trail running, the awesome ocean views; it’s just beautiful. There’s a real West Coast feel.”
Like many of the competitors, Grabi brought family and friends with him to Ucluelet and turned the day’s race into a weekend vacation.
“We all had an awesome time. We’ll be back for sure,” he said assuring he would “absolutely” return to defend his crown next year.
“Thank you to everyone. All the volunteers and all the hard work that everybody puts into it is just awesome and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. I loved it. It’s Ukee.”
Team F.U.N. from Vancouver—anchored by six time Edge-to-Edge marathoner and two–time champion Hjalmar Kristiansen—took top prize in the day’s 42-kilometre relay race with a time of 3 hours 5 minutes and 34 seconds.
Kristiansen said he opted out of racing in the full marathon this year in search of a change of pace and enjoyed the team experience with his friends and fellow Vancouverites Brody Bailey—also an Edge-to-Edge veteran—Tamara Chavez, and Matt Fortuna.
Kristiansen, who wore the Edge-to-Edge crown in both 2013 and 2014, said he has yet to accomplish his goal of finishing a marathon in three hours.
“This route is not suited for a personal best, but it’s super fun and I always enjoy the weekend so we decided to do it as a relay team and get more people out, have a great camping weekend and just have a fun time,” he said.
“I always feel really welcomed and I always have fun. This is Sunday Funday; you have the serious run part in the beginning and then you can eat and drink your face off for the rest of the evening.”
The start-line for both the marathon and relay race was at the Pacific Rim National Park’s Incinerator Rock for the first time this year.
The Park had not been part of the marathon, which once spanned from Tofino to Ucluelet, since 2013 when concerns over runner safety on the highway motivated race officials to contain the course entirely in Ucluelet.
Longtime Edge-to-Edge volunteer Geoff Lyons told the Westerly the most concerning portion of highway was avoided by having runners push through the sand of Long Beach and not hit the road until Combers Beach.
“That always was a challenge to get people safely around that area. So, by avoiding that and putting them on the beach we overcame that issue and the rest of the highway is pretty straight forward,” he said.
Lyons noted Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Government has committed to build a $17.7 million trail through the Park and said this could be a tremendous feature for the marathon.
“That will be perfect and keep people off the road altogether,” he said.
The Edge-to-Edge event is organized by the Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce and the chamber’s vice-president Cathy Whitcomb touted the West Coast’s volunteer spirit as the fuel that powered the day’s success.
“The volunteer aspect was overwhelming,” she said.
“We had so many people participate on so many different levels to make it happen and we’re looking forward to next year, but first we’re looking forward to our volunteer appreciation party which will be announced in the very near future.”
She added the marathon is a key cog in Ucluelet’s summer wheel.
“It brings a lot of economic value to the community, which makes people feel good,” she said. “The even bigger part, I believe, is that it brings us all out to one big arena where we can enjoy each other’s company and continue to build relationships; both business and personal…It’s a lot of work but it really gets people pumped up.”
She said the Park was a welcomed addition to this year’s event.
“The Park is a partner we want to continue building a relationship with and, with the future potential of a bike path going through, it will enhance the opportunities for the marathon tremendously,” she said.