Winner of the Men’s Solo Majell Backhausen pictured with event Organizer Abi Moore of Stag Leap Running Co.

Australian Majell Backhausen wins Elk Valley Ultra

Third-annual popular 50km run a sellout success

Over 177 teams of runners climbed about 2800 meters over 50 kilometres last Saturday, July 27, for a popular local race hosted by Stag Leap Running Co.

For the third year in a row, the event attracted runners from around the world and of all ages and skill levels. The route encompasses some of Fernie’s best and beautiful, yet un-raced trails. It was hot, sunny with bouts of high winds, but that didn’t damper progress for runners.

Majell Backhausen of Australia was the first to finish, with a winning race time of 5:57:38.5.

“It’s the best course I have ever seen, it is such a gnarly course, I followed my running friend Cara here and I was not disappointed,” he said with a smile minutes after he crossed the finish line.

The race, which sold out this year, included solo or three-person relay registrations.

Race directors Abi and Mike Moore of Stag Leap Running Co are well-known figures in the local running community and they were pleased with the event planning and turnout.

“It’s no surprise that we sold out, it is a beautiful course and a challenging run. People come back year after year, they love the challenge,” said Abi.

The route started and finished in Annex Park, adjacent to the Elk River. Racers climb to the top of Mount Fernie, over to Windy Pass and down to Island Lake Lodge. From there they weaved through the Old Growth Forest, up the infamous Project 9 Bike Trail climb, on up the Stupid Traverse, then down Slunt and Brokeback. Following this there was a break at the end of the route with a stretch along the flowy Provincial Park Trails.

“It is not an easy run; it is a big climb up before you come back down to base,” explained Abi.

The Men’s Solo Master’s went to Dan Yovichin with a time of 6:25.29.6.

First place for the Solo Female category went to Michelle Katchur Roberts with a time of 6:43:04.8, and the Solo Female Master’s Becky Bates with a time of 6:43.04.8.

In the 3 person relay team; “3 Small Ones against Some Tall Ones” came first overall with a time of 6:50:25:29.6.

“The event seemed to run as smooth as ever this year. I think it is largely due to the amazing group of volunteers that we have,” said Mike.

“There is a core group that come back each year to help out and they know their roles so well that Abi and I can focus on other areas of the race. Also, there were several volunteers that have run the race in previous years so they also have a really good understanding of what is needed and how much the race depends on them. We are so lucky to have such a supportive community and couldn’t do it without them.”

Every year, Abi and Mike’s families travel from North Bay, Ontario to show their support for the pair and to volunteer with the event.

For full race results can be found on the Stag Leap Running Co Facebook page.

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(Left) Majell Backhausen places first in the Elk Valley Ultra. (Right) Winner of the Men’s Solo Majell Backhausen pictured with event Organizer Abi Moore of Stag Leap Running Co. Ashley Kowalewski/The Free Press

Gauge O’ Ryan of Fernie completed the three-person relay with his sister and friend. He says he enjoys the feeling of finishing, which he described as a big accomplishment. Ashley Kowalewski/The Free Press

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