In a race deemed by onlookers and competitors as the wettest and muddiest on record, it was only fitting that a local rider take home the top prize at the 2012 Test of Metal.
Squamish's Neal Kindree was the first to cross the finish line with a time of 2:34:24, beating out second place finisher Chris Sheppard by over four minutes.
“I'm happy with how it went but I had to keep my eye on Sheppard for most of the race,” Kindree said after the race. “Chris was riding hard the first 15 to 20 kilometres but then he kind of eased up. Then I decided to open it up and there was a gap and I decided to go with it and it stuck. He almost caught me on Bonk [Hill] but then I turned it on again.”
It's the first victory in the Test for Kindree since 2007 after a third place finish last year and a ninth place showing in 2010.
Squamish resident Greg Day also had a strong showing, placing fourth with a time of 2:44:41.
“Top five was my goal so I'm really happy with the finish,” he said. “It was a tough race like always with really wet conditions and it was definitely the muddiest Test I've been a part of.”
Day, who recently moved to Squamish from North Vancouver, said that Kindree and Sheppard set the tone at the very start of the race.
“There was definitely a split at the beginning because Neal and Chris really pulled away early on,” he said. “But there was a real battle between third, fourth, fifth and sixth.”
Other top local male finishers included: Kelly Servinski (12th), Dwayne Kress (14th) and Carl Goldstraw (26th).
For the women it was Wendy Simms of Nanaimo capturing the top time, completing the race in 3:07:19.
“It was great today,” she said. “I've raced this course when it's sunny and rainy but I loved it today.”
Simms managed to best Brackendale's Brandi Heisterman, who had led for the majority of the race.
“She started out really strong but I caught her on Nine Mile Hill,” she said. “Then I just pushed it really hard on the singletrack right after because I thought she was right on my back and probably knows the trails so well.”
It's the second Test win for Simms, who most recently placed fourth in the 2010 race and won the in 2008. Heisterman said she simply ran out of gas.
“I pushed it from the start but then I popped on Nine Mile Hill,” she said. “I had a little bit of a resurrection on the Powerhouse Plunge and I managed to hang on to finish third. The crowd was amazing today but this was by far the most disgusting Test I've ever done.”
Kate Aardal of Calgary placed second with a time of 3:09:41, while Heisterman finished at 3:09:56. Garibaldi Highlands resident Rua Read placed eighth in the Elite Women's category, with Linda Robichaud finishing in 12th.
Check the print edition of The Chief for more on the Test of Metal.