Tag Archives: running

Summer and Races at the Whistler Museum

For many, the month of May signals either the end of the ski season or the beginning of the summer season in Whistler, or possibly both. In the 1950s and early 1960s, this change of season was marked by the first dance of the season at the Alta Lake Community Hall. As the area began to be known for skiing rather than its summer activities, other kinds of events became more common such as races and competitions.

Canoeists prepare for their part in the exciting ninth annual Great Snow, Earth, Water Race. Although the weather was great Sunday and Monday, Saturday was a damp one and it actually snowed on Tuesday. Whistler Question Collection.

In May of 1975, Bryan Walhovd organized a race that would become a long-running springtime staple in Whistler: the Great Snow Earth Water Race. When it began, the four stages of the relay race were skiing, cycling, canoeing and running. The teams of five were required to have at least one woman on each team. The race started on Whistler Mountain, where skiers raced to the end of the snow and then had to make their way down to the gondola base in today’s Creekside, ensuring that they still had their skis and boots with them. From there, the baton was passed to a cyclist who rode to the first weir on the River of Golden Dreams to pass the baton to the two canoeists. Canoes then travelled across Alta Lake to pass the baton to the team’s runner for the final leg of the race back to the gondola base.

Whenever conversations turn to the Great Snow Earth Water Race, those who have participated invariably describe how much they enjoyed the experience. The first years of the race did not have many rules, leading to inventive ways of getting around the course and memorable stories featuring motorcycles, trucks, and even downloading in the gondola with varying degrees of success. It would appear that the race made a lasting impression on those who attended, whether they were running down Whistler Mountain with ski boots around their neck or watching the chaos of the canoes.

It was no easy task, but for the second year in a row Stoney’s team walked away with first-place honours in the Great Waters Race. (L to R) Dave Murray, Jinny Ladner, Ken Hardy, Lisa Nicholson and Brian Allen. Whistler Question Collection.

To find out more about the race and those who raced in it, the Whistler Museum has added an extra event to our 2021 Virtual Speaker Series this evening (Tuesday, May 25). We’ll be speaking with Bryan Walhovd, Nancy Greene Raine, Trudy Alder, and others to learn more about this race that is remembered so fondly.

While this will be the last event of our 2021 Virtual Speaker Series (we will be hosting April’s postponed event on freestyle skiing at a later yet-to-be-determined date), we are busy at the museum preparing for an exciting summer. Our Valley of Dreams Walking Tour will run daily through July and August, with the same precautions and restrictions that we introduced last year. Crafts in the Park, a partner program with the Whistler Public Library, will also return this summer in a remote format. Thanks to Young Canada Works, we’ll have help with our programs and museum operations in the form of two student employees.

You can find out more about upcoming programs and events and the latest museum updates at whistlermuseum.org.

The Great Snow-Earth-Water Race Returns!

great-snow-earth-water-race

The Great Snow Earth Water Race is being revived in 2014. A truly organic Whistler experience, we at the museum are really excited to see the return of this awesome event.

The original race began in 1975 and involved skiing, canoeing, cycling and running. Thirty teams composed of five men and women took part in that first year and the race was won by a dream team made up of Dave Murray, Trudy Alder, D.J. Muzullo, Nancy Greene Raine and Joe Czimazia. In the beginning there were very few rules, so a certain amount of “questionable” tactics were employed, including driving down the mountain!

great race

Competitors began at the top of Whistler Mountain where they would ski to wherever the snow finished. From there they would have to run the rest of the way down to Creekside (in ski boots, carrying their skis). At Creekside the baton was passed off to a cyclist, who would ride around Alta Lake and pass it off to the canoeists. The paddlers worked their way up the lake to the first weir on the River of Golden Dreams. Then they handed off to runners who ran back along the highway to Creekside.

Apparently, Great Race canoeist copythe canoeing was the most amusing part for bystanders. Dave Steers recalls, “Most of the teams had members who could tell the front of a canoe from the back. A few teams didn’t even have that.” Consequently there were plenty of tipped canoes and great hilarity for all.

As the years went on the race evolved to include more sports. In the 2014 revival there will be six stages: ski or snowboard touring, ski or snowboard downhill, downhill mountain biking, running, canoeing and cross-country biking.

If you fancy putting a team together it’s sure to be hilarious fun. Visit http://www.greatoutdoorsfest.com for details. The race is also in need of volunteers to help all go smoothly, so if you have spare time on May 18th and want to sign up for a piece of pure Whistler fun, you won’t regret it!