The Coquitlam Crunch Challenge Under New Leadership

The 7th annual Coquitlam Crunch Diversity Challenge is set for Saturday, September 10th, 2016 and will continue to raise awareness for initiatives that embrace diversity in Coquitlam. Founded in 2010 by Coquitlam resident Alex Bell, the event, which gives competitors the chance to see how many times they can go up and down the Coquitlam Crunch in 4 hours has experienced exponential growth. It started as a 12-hour event, and last year’s switch to the 4-hour format was greatly received.

Due to unforeseen circumstances and the event’s rapid growth, Alex Bell has handed the event over to the Nothin’ Dragon Masters team of Coquitlam, a group of dragon boaters made primarily of seniors who refuse to sit idle. This diverse group, while dealing with the challenges associated with aging, aim to keep an active and healthy lifestyle. Not only does the club support close to 70 masters (male and female) athletes who compete throughout the year, they also mentor challenged youth from the Tri-Cities in their sport; and they support the Riverside Secondary dragon boat team.

“I’ve always wanted this event to go to the community,” said Bell, “and I’m so pleased that Nothin’ Dragon has enthusiastically stepped in. I know they will do a great job.”

The event is being supported by the City of Coquitlam and is a #Coquitlam125 sanctioned event. The Challenge starts at the base of the Coquitlam Crunch at the Scott Creek Community Gardens and the full loop (up and down) of the Crunch trail is approximately 4.5km, taking the average person (walking) anywhere from 1 to 1.5 hours. The Coquitlam Crunch Challenge offers something for everyone whether you are a hardcore athlete, or you just want to get out in nature and exercise alone or with your family or friends.

Here are the three ways to participate:

  • Starting at 8 am the Stair Master  challenges athletes to see who is the fastest running up the 437 stairs of the Crunch;
  • From 9 am to 1 pm, the Make It or Break It category challenges athletes to see how many times they can go up and down the full length of the Crunch within 4 hours;
  • From 9:30 am to 1 pm with a formal start at 10 am, the Recreational category simply encourages everyone to come out and support community, get some exercise, enjoy the day and try to complete the Coquitlam Crunch at least once or even twice in 2 hours.

In 2015, overall winner, Matt Sessions completed the 4-hour Make It Or Break It with a total of 8 loops. Jackie Senchyna was the top female competitor with 6 loops, while top youth competitor was Gracie Lorenson with 7 loops.

“Competitors who compete annually have given their feedback through our Facebook page, and although 7 years ago, we started as a simple charity event, we noted the dedication of the athletes, and like other competitions, we realized we had  to step up our game,” said Bell, who will remain on as an event advisor.

Under the new management, the 2016 edition will bring in professional timekeeping thanks to TRIO Sports Events, and registration is being handled by the Running Room. “This year everyone will have a bib and time chip,” said president of the Nothin’ Dragon team, Brian Kenny. “We’re excited to also offer gold, silver, and bronze medals to our top three competitors in the Make It Or Break It and the Stair Master for both male and female in four ages groups.”

Water and sports drinks will be available for free for participants thanks to generous sponsors.  The Stair Master is a $10 entry, and the Make It Or Break It is $25. All entries $20 or over will warrant an optional tax receipt. Suggested donations for the Recreational category are  $20 for adults, $10 for youth or $40 per family, however no donation of any amount will be refused and participation is welcomed without the requirement of a donation. Registration is now underway.

Corporate sponsors are still being sought and are encouraged to get involved in this health-conscious and inclusive initiative by emailing Event organizers wish to acknowledge their sponsors: New Earth Marketing; 98.7 CKPM FM Tri-City Radio; Eagle Ridge Chevrolet, Buick, GMCPasta Polo; Coquitlam Centre; Thrifty Foods and the City of Coquitlam.

[Photo Caption: The Coquitlam Crunch ‘Diversity’ Challenge changes hands in 2016 as the Nothin’ Dragon Masters will now take the helm of the popular Coquitlam event. Seen here left to right is: Robbin Whachell, three-year volunteer for the Challenge and Nothin’ Dragon member; Alex Bell, Founder, Coquitlam Crunch Challenge; and Brian Kenny, President, Nothin’ Dragon Masters.]

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Coquitlam Crunch Challenge marks successful 6th year, with major improvements planned for 2016

The weather was perfect for the 6th installment of the Coquitlam Crunch ‘Diversity’ Challenge on September 12th as the 2015 edition took a shorter 4-hour format. Approximately 200 people came out, and walked or ran the Coquitlam Crunch Trail to support local charities: the Coquitlam Foundation ‘Diversity’ Fund; SHARE food bank; and the Blanket BC Society.

“We are so grateful for how supportive the community and volunteers have been,” said event founder, Alex Bell. “People came forward, on their own accord to offer their support. There is no way we could have raised more than $16,000 since 2010 for the Community Diversity Fund without the support of individual donors, sponsors and volunteers. This fund is now a legacy for our community.” In 2015, the Coquitlam Diversity Fund generated its first grant of $500 to the Tri-Cities Brain Injury Support Group to help fund social interaction and community recreational opportunities for brain injury survivors. With donations still coming in, this year’s event has raised approximately $2500.

The Make it Or Break It category started at 8am, and has sparked a growing competitive spirit over the years. It had 30 registrants, (4 times that of last year) all vying to see how many times in 4 hours they could go up and down the Crunch Trail, which starts beside Scott Creek Middle School and finishes up at Eagle Mountain Drive, 2.2 km from bottom to top.

Over 100 people registered for the Recreational category which started formally at 10am. Refreshments and snacks were provided at the bottom and at the top, along with treats for the kids.  The Kangho Hapkido Martial Arts Academy were out in full force, and not only did they lead the warm up for the Recreational category, but they presented a $595 cheque toward the Diversity Fund.


Jackie Senchyna completed the most loops out of the women with 6, and youth participant, Gracie Lorenson completed 7, both taking part in the 4-hour Make it Or Break it category.

“It’s been interesting to watch the growth of the Make it Or Break it category,” said event founder, Alex Bell. “This year we had an almost even male-female ratio and a few children came out, with the youngest being 10 years old. It was great to see a couple senior athletes also involved.”

Matt Sessions, who is the 12-hour event record-holder with 17 loops, won this year’s 4-hour Make it Or Break it challenge by completing 8 loops. He was followed closely behind by Ray Barrett. With the average loop ‘walking’ up and down the Crunch being around 1 hour, most of the Make it Or Break it  competitors completed 5 – 7 loops.  Winner, Matt Sessions clocked 24 minutes on his first loop. The new 4-hour format, most definitely added the speed component. Out of the women that participated, Jackie Senchyna was the top competitor with 6 laps, and out of the youth,   Gracie Lorenson completed 7 loops.

“The competitors are already giving us their feedback, and although 6 years ago, we started as a simple charity event, we note the dedication of the athletes, and like other competitions, we will have to step it up to include times, age groups, etc,” said Bell, who has already met with his team to review improvements for next year to include down-to-the-second timekeeping, as well as formal top overall male / female and age group recognitions.


Matt Sessions being congratulated as the Challenge winner by founder, Alex Bell at the Coquitlam Crunch trail on September 12th. Matt completed 8 loops up and down the Crunch within 4 hours.

Next year the event is slated for September 10, 2016, and organizers are looking to the corporate community for ideas, funding, and man-hours in order to make the event more efficiently and accurately run. Any persons or businesses who can offer help toward time-keeping, signage and printing, traffic control, event-day volunteers, and t-shirts, are asked to make contact.

“This year we had 20 volunteers that proved invaluable, and we were able to enhance the safety of the street crossings along the trail,” said Bell. “To grow again, we need even more hands on deck and we are looking for people or businesses who would like to be part of our 2016 organizing team.”
A prize was offered to the Make it Or Break it winner, as well as 5 draw prizes were given out provided by Maxfit Movement Institute which included fitness/running assessments and massages. CKPM FM provided 2 extra prizes.  “I’d like to thank all those who stepped in this year to make it one of our best events,” said Bell. “This event is taking on a life of its own. It has the potential to become a signature event of Coquitlam.”

The public is invited to provide feedback, and may do so by emailing You can also join the event email list at  Event photos have been posted to the event Facebook page.  The 2015 Coquitlam Crunch Challenge was proudly supported by 98.7 CKPM FM, Eagle Ridge GM, Maxfit Movement Institute, New Earth Marketing, Pasta  Polo, Vancity, Magenta Printing, Pack and Ship, City of Coquitlam, Coquitlam Foundation, Kangho Hapkido Martial Arts Academy, Northside Foursquare Church, and McDonald’s. More information can be found at


Over $16,000 has been raised for the Diversity Fund since 2010. The Kangho Hapkido Martial Arts Academy was out in full force on September 12th, and presented $595 in collections to event founder, Alex Bell. Approximately $2500 was raised this year and donations are still coming in.

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Coquitlam Crunch Diversity Challenge 2015 Date Announced

The sixth annual Coquitlam Crunch ‘Diversity’ Challenge is set for Saturday, September 12th, 2015, and raises funds for community grants that promote diversity awareness, respect and integration. The Challenge is held at The Coquitlam Crunch trail, which follows a route along the B.C. Hydro cut line and offers a great workout, and unobstructed views of the surrounding area including Mount Baker, Washington. The Crunch is a less intense version of the Grouse Grind and the 2.2km trail starts below Lansdowne Drive and finishes at Eagle Mountain Drive. The average round trip (walking) takes about an hour. In early 2014 the City of Coquitlam helped make the trail safer by putting in the 437 new stairs along the steepest section.

The event was created in 2010 by local resident, Alex Bell and his family. Last year the event raised well over $4000 for the Community Diversity Fund (held and administered by the Coquitlam Foundation) which provides grants to Tri-Cities’ individuals, non-profit organizations, or community groups initiating actions, programs or education aimed at improving integration and participation by diversity groups, identified by the community as being socially or financially marginalized.

This year’s event will have a new shortened 4-hour format, versus last year’s 10 hours. “For those returning to the event, the news of the 4-hour format for 2015 may come as a surprise,”said event founder, Alex Bell.  “Due to circumstances beyond our control, we had two choices this year; either to postpone the event one-year, or to put out a shorter format with less categories.”

“We are preparing for a larger event in 2016 coinciding with Coquitlam 125th birthday, which will have at least 4 categories,” said Alex Bell. “We know people have been training for the 10-hour format, but our hands are tied. The 4-hour format is still a fitness challenge and adds more of a speed component.”

The Challenge on September 12th can be competitive or simply for fun. It’s a great family event, open to anyone of any athletic ability.  There are two ways you can participate:

1. The “Make it or Break” category for the die hard Crunchers. Participants walk or run the trail as many times as possible in a 4-hour period between 8am to 12 noon. Matt Sessions holds the 2012 (12-hour) record of 17 sets (which he repeated in 2014) when there was 12-hours allowed for this category. Register online Here, or register on the day at 7:30am.

2. The “Recreational” category for individuals or families who can walk the Crunch at least once. Start time is formally at 10am, but people may arrive and participate any time between 8:30am and 12 noon. Register online Here, or on the day upon arrival.

Water and sports drinks will be available free for participants.

Optional donations are suggested as $20 for adults, $10 for youth or $40 per family, however no donation of any amount will be refused and participation is welcomed without the requirement of a donation. You can also bring a non-perishable food item for the SHARE Food Bank, and Blanket BC will also be on site if you’d like to donate a blanket.

In 2015, the Coquitlam Diversity Fund generated its first grant of $500 to the Tri-Cities Brain Injury Support Group to help fund social interaction and community recreational opportunities for brain injury survivors. Donations to the fund can be made via the website

Volunteers make it happen! The organizing team is looking for people to assist with site set up, registration, water stations, verification stations, parking, ensuring safe road crossings along the route, as well as the tear down of tents and tables.

If you have any questions email

See you at the Crunch!

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The Make It or Break It Category

Starts at 6:30am ends at 6:30pm
Walk up and down the Coquitlam Crunch as many times as possible in a 12 hour period and make or break the goal of 10 round trips – the record is 17 round trips.

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Anything’s Possible Trail

Starts at 10:30am at Northside Foursquare.
A paved section of the trail that is accessible for people with mobility challenges wishing to join in the challenge.

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