Swanson makes it 18/19 in the Emperor's Challenge

On Saturday August 12th Canadian mountain-runner Kris Swanson once again won the Emperor’s Challenge Mountain Run, the 20 km event that leads over the summit of Mt Babcock south of Tumbler Ridge. His time was 1:29:24.

This was the 19th Emperor’s Challenge. Kris Swanson has won 18 of these, the only exception being in 2007 when he was just pipped by three-time Victoria marathon winner Steve Osaduik. Both runners were on the course again 2009, where Swanson won an epic battle.

We believe there is no comparable feat in Canadian running or athletics history, of an athlete winning a single event so many times. (There are cases in Norway and the UK of 20 titles, and the world record of 23 is from the USA.) And in the global annals of mountain-running, Swanson’s awe-inspiring achievement is likewise unique.

Maurice Wilson, BC Athletics Technical Manager for Road & XC Running, commented: “The Emperor’s Challenge has repeatedly demonstrated itself to be the most popular off-road event of its type in BC, a testament to the quality of the organization. Kris’ accomplishment is unheralded in Canadian running, demonstrating his enduring strength and persistence.”

When approached for comment, Kris said: “Nineteen years ago, The Emperor’s Challenge started out as a perfect excuse for me to return to Tumbler Ridge for some thrilling runs.  Since then, the race has evolved into one of Canada’s, and as far as I’m concerned the world’s premier mountain running events. With the immeasurable passion from the race organizers and breathtaking geography of the Geopark, that’s not overly surprising.  The Emperors Challenge has never been an easy event, but it has always been unique and rewarding and I’m honoured to be part of its history.” 

The 2017 event was held in warm, somewhat smoky conditions with little wind. Of the total of 1082 entries (including kids) there were 713 finishers. As usual, a huge number of volunteers and community groups worked together to make the event a success. Julianne Kucheran of Fort St John won women’s event in a time of 2:01:28.

The Emperor’s Challenge is one of the largest events of its kind in Canada. The field for the adult race is capped at 1000; registration opens 4 months before the race day, and in 2017 filled up in just 15 hours.

The Emperor’s Challenge is held within the Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark, and the course passes through magnificent geological scenery and formations. Events such as this, which connect residents and visitors with their heritage and wilderness surroundings, are of great importance to UNESCO Global Geoparks.

The 2018 event will be the 20th Emperor’s Challenge, and plans are already underway to make this an extra-special event. Not surprisingly, Kris Swanson plans to be there. The Challenge has now become: for how many more years can he keep doing this? Can he perhaps use the Emperor’s Challenge to set a world record of victories in a single event?

For more information http://emperorschallenge.com/