A decade ago, adventure racing was considered as something only demented, masochistic individuals took part in.
Races were long, gruelling affairs that only a handful of the most hard-core endurance athletes took part in.
But the times have changed and the sport of adventure racing is now a multi-million dollar industry, and a small part of Squamish's racing history. Nine years ago, the first installment of the Sea2Summit adventure race hit Squamish and it's back again this year, bigger and better than ever.
The ninth annual adventure race features 300 adventure/endurance athletes from various points on the North American map who will be coming to Squamish for the two-day event.
Starting on Saturday, Sept. 18, the athletes will test their physical strength and endurance throughout the 160-km race by running, paddling and cycling from downtown Squamish to the finish line in Whistler village on Sunday, Sept. 19.
"It's one of Canada's oldest adventure races that started in the Sea to Sky corridor about nine years ago," said course director Kevin Thomson. "We're very happy to be in the downtown core for the first time in nine years."
The race will commence from the Pavilion in Stan Clarke Park at seven o'clock in the morning. Athletes will first venture along the dyke trail in a 6-km run to the Squamish and Mamquam river confluence where they will then pick up their kayaks and paddle 18 km down the Squamish River and back into the Mamquam Blind Channel at the Squamish Yacht Club.
After that, there will be an entertaining "mystery event" waiting for them to complete before clipping into the pedals for a 47-km bike to Alice Lake, through Crumpit Woods and back again. In case that wasn't enough pain and suffering, a 10-km run will be thrown into the mix when they reach Alice Lake.
"We like to think of it as an adventure race suitable for novice racers as well as elite competitors," said Thomson.
Thomson said that the first competitors will cross the finish line some six hours after starting, while newcomers and slower athletes taking anywhere from seven to 12 hours to finish the adventure epic. Individuals, pairs and teams of four are slated to compete. The race finale is set for Sunday, when racers ride out of Squamish on a group warm-up rolling start to the Paradise Valley turnoff, riding all the way to Whistler Creekside before the final 18-km run to the finish line in the village.
"You'll see people with strong will and determination crossing the finish line," said Thomson.