Popular trail races in Whistler, BC permanently cancelled
The Whistler Alpine Meadows (WAM) races, a weekend of trail running events popular in the running community and scheduled to take place in Whistler, BC, in September, have been cancelled.
On Friday, Coast Mountain Trail Running (CMTR) co-founders Gary Robbins and Geoff Langford sent a statement on behalf of the entire organizing team for the race, thanking the resort’s community and local tourist board.
“Our time in Whistler is over,” it said.
The group organizes trail races on Vancouver’s North Shore and BC’s Sea-to-Sky Corridor.
“We will not be following any other events within the community going forward,” the statement said.
“After six successful editions of the race, it has become crystal clear that there is simply no way for us to host races of this magnitude along the alpine terrain within the confines of Whistler.”
Though events have been suspended during the pandemic, Ellie Greenwood, an ultramarathoner, online running coach and former world 100k champion, said WAM events attracted participants from around the world.
Greenwood said it offers a rare opportunity to race in the Fitzimmons Range, where Whistler Mountain is the most famous peak and home to Whistler Blackcomb ski resort, owned by American company Vail Resorts.
“Obviously, Whistler is an iconic destination,” she said in an interview. “The trail running community was super excited. I really felt like the momentum was just starting.”
Greenwood ran previous editions of the 25K WAM race and also worked as a volunteer. The weekend included a promotion race, 25km, 50km, 100km races and a 160km race, all spread over three days.
The event also hosted a “Triple Whammy” where competitors compete in a climb race on Friday, a 25K race on Saturday and a 50K race on Sunday.
“Angry, disappointed, frustrated”
Greenwood says race organizers recently informed runners that Whistler Blackcomb Resort’s owners, Vail Resorts, still have not confirmed whether they would receive a permit to host the 2023 events. Putting together a major competition takes months of preparation, Greenwood said, and runners who want to compete also need enough advance notice to train.
“People are angry, disappointed, frustrated,” she said, adding that CMTR is known for hosting well-organized and welcoming events. She said she and other runners have often made new friends and seen familiar faces from races over the years by competing at Whistler.
“You just know you’re being taken really good care of. And get really cool, beautiful, challenging classes,” she said.
In its statement announcing the cancellation, CMTR said it was proud of what was accomplished during his tenure at Whistler and donated $70,000 to the local community and trails in the area.
Organizers said a recent economic impact study conducted by Tourism Whistler estimated that spending by participants, employees, spectators, volunteers and visitors on the races generated an economic impact of nearly $1.9 million in BC and nearly $1 $.5 million specifically for Whistler.
Vail Resorts and Tourism Whistler did not immediately respond to CBC News requests for comment.
CBC News also contacted Coast Mountain Trail Running and Gary Robbins for an interview, but has not yet received a response.