By Seb Kemp
Photos by Amir Shahrestani
The fourth annual Nimby Fifty marathon XC race was held in Pemberton, BC at the weekend. The participation of 400 racers proved that cross-country events are still very popular, even in gravity-obsessed British Columbia.
The Nimby Fifty race takes place on some of Pemberton’s most iconic trails, looping 37 kilometres from North Arm farm and back. After a brisk roll-out on sealed road the first climb is a dirt road punch where racers jostle for position before the first singletrack descent. After that, the climbing really begins, with the 101 switchbacks of Happy and Nimby trail, a 11.2-kilometre singletrack climb that requires a smart mind and a fine balance of skill and strength.
From this vantage point racers point downward and enter Overnight Sensation, a long, steep, rough, challenging descent, which, for the second year, is the venue for The Red Bull Downtime. This race-within-a-race is a timed descent where the fastest descender wins $250, an entry for the Red Bull Divide and Conquer multisport race and bragging rights. This section allows racers who aren’t quite as fast on the climbs as the racing whippets to win their own victory. The problem is that anyone wanting to charge the descent will often have a lot of traffic to negotiate.
Regardless, at this stage the bulk of the climbing has been achieved, but from here onwards the trails become even more technical and punctuated with short, punchy climbs that bring thigh muscles to a cramp. Riders roll back into the farm, punch the clock and then the beer starts flowing, often late into the night.
Pemberton gets very dry and hot, even in May, but this year a week of rain leading up to the event and then blue skies on race day meant the trail conditions could not have been any better. The weather conditions and a free hall pass granted to me at the last minute helped make up my mind to get in the car and drive the four hours plus two-hour ferry journey back to Pemberton for this race. I’m glad I did, if just for the fine ribbons of raked singletrack and the three hours of good laughs shared with other racers. You see, once the first climb and descent were out of the way racers relaxed and faced their fate. Passing, although difficult because of the nature of the trails, was helped by the spirit of fair play that racers kept alive, and a local contingent of hecklers and well wishers kept racers’ spirits up.
Pemberton: Those who know about it, love it. If you need an excuse to drive past Whistler then the Nimby Fifty is a great one.
The Nimby Fifty pro-male category was won by Neal Kindree and the women’s pro was won by Mical Dyck. The Red Bull Downtime male winner was Dave Burch and the female winner was Micayla Gatto. Full results HERE.