Fifteen years ago, George and Gail Forshaw designed and directed the first Diez Vista 50 km trail run. They were keen on show-casing the wide variety of trails that they had found in their own backyard. Looking back at the list of finishers in the early years, you can see the names runners who have since become known as the pioneers of ultrarunning in the Pacific Northwest. Two of those first finishers have continued to enter, race and finish each of the fifteen DV races. The friendly competition between Peter Zubick and Judy Kopotski is legendary, as they try to out-race each other on a higher level – by simply showing up each April. This year, their efforts were rewarded when they were each presented with a personalized, hand-carved walking stick made by long-time volunteer, Ken Cretelli. Each stick is topped with a mountain lion carving and wood-burned with the runner’s name and the dates of all the races.
The Diez Vista 50 km is the epitome of a grassroots event. The registration table was pulled out of the van moments before the first racers pulled into the gravel lot. The start line was made by pulling flagging ribbon across the lot near a specific Douglas fir tree. And the racers were sent off by George ringing a cowbell and simply shouting “go!”. This year’s racers consisted of 111 runners from BC, Alberta and Washington State. The course had to be altered due to high water and flooding at Buntzen Lake. Since the lower trails and the ‘floating bridge’ were all under water, the racers were detoured over Lakeview Trail, which offered more technical footing and increased elevation than the original course. As a result, the overall times were much slower. The front runners added 30 to 40 minutes to their usual times and some back-of-the-packers added over an hour to their previous DV times. Despite the longer day, racers seemed pleased with the course changes and embraced the challenge of a more difficult run.
Leading right from the clang of the cowbell was Justin Angle, who went on to win in a time of 4:52. Bill Huggins, also from the Seattle area, finished in second, and David Papineau in third place. In the women’s race, local favourite Suzanne Evans won her sixth Diez Vista in a time of 5:12, finishing in 5th place overall. Mel Bos, from Kelowna, finished closely behind and Nicki Rehn was third. It is notable to say that only 2 finishers managed to break the 5 hour mark this year, while last year there were 7 runners under 5 hours.
As soon as racers crossed the finish line, the atmosphere felt more like a backyard barbeque than a race. Comraderie took over as everyone shared their tales over BBQ’d smokies and bowls of Gail’s homemade apple crisp and brownies. The aid station crews were welcomed back to the finish line and eagerly awaited the finish of the two 15 year veterans. The first raindrops of the day began to fall just as the finish line crew was packing up the van. The only thought at the end of the day was – what kind of 20-year finisher award could possibly out-shine the walking sticks given this year? Rocking chairs??