The ground was wet and the sky remained a dull grey, holding a constant threat of a sudden downpour, but that did not stand in the way of the 11th annual Barkerville Rush Relay held May 18. Runners of all ages were out in droves early Sunday morning to meet at Highway 97 and the Barkerville Highway junction, ready and eager to start the first leg of this 100-km relay.
The relay was first started by a student as a project on ways to increase tourism in Quesnel and the idea stuck. Racers from MacKenzie, Prince George, Kamloops and other areas across Canada come out to enjoy this annual run that takes runners through classic Cariboo scenery and historical sites on the trek to Barkerville
The relay is split up into eight different stages of varying difficulty, with the shortest leg of the race being 8 km and the longest 17.4 km.
Racers were off and running at 7 a.m. on Sunday taking the relay route from the Gold Pan off of Highway 97 up to the Historic Gold Rush Town of Barkerville and looping back down to the town of Wells.
New to the relay this year was a second group start at the Jack of Clubs lake at 1 p.m., with all remaining racers off and running again to start on the sixth leg of the relay.
Finally, runners raced into Wells for a second time that day, gathering at the Community Hall for a formal banquet and awards ceremony.
Solo runner Ian McIlvenna came in first in the relay, with a relay time of 8 hours and 47 minutes, with the Cariboo Tri coming in second at 8 hours and 48 minutes and following in third with a time of 8 hours and 53 minutes was the Nik-Nak Fernandrews.
Many of the runners took the opportunity to dress-up for the occasion, wearing inventive and entertaining costumes for the relay, but it was the Black Tie Gents who won the costume contest. These racers were easy to spot on the road, wearing white shirts and black ties.
For each stage, the female and male runners with the fastest times were recognized for their tireless efforts in the relay: Aiden O’Neil and Amy Wood in the first leg; Bob Trudeau and Robyn Schmidt in the second leg; top racers Barry Nakahara and Kathleen Cuniffe ran in the third and longest leg of the relay; running fastest in the fourth leg were racers Mike Smith and Debbie Janning-Stewart; Dereck Burgess and Amanda Alexander were the fastest runner in the fifth leg; David Osmond and Dave Ward tied for the fastest male runner in the sixth leg with Janyce Skorski coming in as the fastest female runner; in the seventh leg Ryan Pidhirniak and Shannon Coffery were the top racers in this steep climb up to Summit Rock; and in the final leg of the journey Nathan Strand and Ruby Nicholas raced in to the town of Wells as the top male and female runners.
This years race saw 18 teams and three soloists, a great turn out for the dreary day.
So for anyone interested, young or old, lace up your runners and start preparing for next year’s Barkerville Rush Relay.