By Lyonel Doherty
Yusheng Ni from Vancouver has run eight marathons all over the world since August, but he says the scenery during last Sunday’s Baldy Marathon was the best.
“The scenery was breathtaking,” he said via an interpreter moments after winning the inaugural marathon in 3:09:20, more than 20 minutes ahead of second place finisher Jesse Kitteridge.
When asked why he chose to compete in the smaller-scale Baldy Marathon, Ni said he wanted to experience the wine-making region in Oliver, and of course to discover Festival of the Grape on the same day.
Ni’s nine-year-old son Tianyi was the youngest competitor in the 10K run. He noted that his son has a good physical aptitude for running.
Tianyi said it was his first time running a 10K race, in which he finished third in 59:55. “My dad thinks it’s perfect; he wanted me to run the 10K. I like running . . . it’s so fun.”
Daniel von Staats from Osoyoos won the 20K race in 1:28:42, while Marie-Josee Bedard was the top female with a time of 1:37:53.
Liz Naccarato was the top female finisher in the marathon in 4:08:54. In the 10K race, Kirsten Kurjata was the top female finisher in a time of 51:06, while Miro Machnyk was the top male finisher in 52:47.
Victor Tsao, chairman of Baldy Mountain Resort, said the marathon and the other races were a great way to showcase Mount Baldy and the South Okanagan.
“Marathons are becoming more destination-based, so we want to do this every year.”
Tsao pointed out that Mount Baldy is so much more than skiing and snowboarding; it’s a four-season destination resort.
Tony Munday, director of operations for the marathon, and Festival of the Grape (FOG) chairman, admitted the logistics of organizing both events on the same day is “crazy nuts.”
“It was just a different allocation of resources. That’s why we built this (marathon) into the weekend; we don’t have to plan a finish line because we already have it at FOG.”
Munday said there was a total of 160 participants in the marathon and the two other races. But he envisions this number potentially growing to 1,000 or more in the future.
Munday noted they were expecting about 4,000 people to attend FOG, which attracted celebrity Rick Mercer to stomp some grapes with team members Munday and Linda Bolton.