7th annual Coquitlam Crunch ‘Diversity’ Challenge a Success!

Under new leadership, and with many new improvements in place, the 7th annual Coquitlam Crunch ‘Diversity’ Challenge,  held on September 10th was deemed a success by organizers. This year’s event saw the addition of a timing system provided and overseen by tricity’s Trio Sports Events, and pre-event registration took place through the Running Room, with local race kit pickup at the Port Coquitlam location.  All the event photos can be seen on Facebook HERE.

“Although our numbers were not as high as we’d anticipated, the weather was perfect, and almost everyone that participated said they’d be back again next year,” said Nothin’ Dragon president, Brian Kenny who co-chaired the event with paddling teammate and three year Crunch volunteer, Robbin Whachell. “When the sponsors say it was worth their while, and they want to return, you know the event went well!” said Whachell.

Monies raised from the event will  benefit both seniors and youth through the Nothin’ Dragon Masters senior paddling team who mentor challenged youth, as well as to build the ‘Diversity Fund’ housed under the Coquitlam Foundation, which was created by Crunch Challenge event founder Alex Bell in 2010.  Bell served as an advisor this year and both he and his wife Laurel were actively involved on event day, and Bell had the  honourary roll of handing out the gold, silver and bronze medals for both the Stair Master and Make It Or Break It categories, which were split into four age groups in both male and female divisions.

Adding to the event excitement was the heroic 24-hour Crunch marathon by Port Moody resident Guy Black, who successfully completed his goal with a total of 20 laps of the 4.5 km trail loop from bottom to top and back.

The inaugural Stair Master competitors! Check our results page to see who placed.

The inaugural Stair Masters competitors! Trevor Schmidt (in fluorescent green) was named the Stair Master for 2016. Check our results page to all the times. (Photo: Joep Olthuis)

“Guy’s feat was greatly supported by the community, and he rarely walked alone, even during the night. “A lady named Frida, who I never met before, walked with me Friday afternoon and then showed up at midnight with her daughter and daughter’s friend,” said Black.  “They were wearing bright headlights and arrived at our support tent and walked with me to the top and back. Frida was concerned for my safety and she showed up again around 3:00 am and walked with me once more.” You can read Guy Black’s post marathon recap HERE.

Guy was supported the entire 24 hours by Diane Lee of Coquitlam’s Kang-Ho Hapkido Martial Arts Academy.  Many fellow academy members came out to cheer him on, and walk with him. His effort was also dedicated to Amanda Todd’s Legacy, and Carol Todd was out at the start and completion of Black’s marathon.  On Saturday, Honourary Colonel Ted Hawthorne of the British Columbia Regiment presented Guy with a Colonel’s Challenge Coin for his community work in honouring veterans.


Guy Black completed 20 laps in 24 hours, and is seen here with Honourary Colonel Ted Hawthorne of the British Columbia Regiment who presented Guy with a Colonel’s Challenge Coin for his community work in honouring veterans (Photo: Joep Olthuis)

The Crunch Challenge’s inaugural Stair Master component (group photo seen at the top) had competitor’s run the 437 stairs of the Crunch to see who was the fastest, and a mother, young child and the family dog took the tiresome run up the stairs (doggy first).  Trevor Schmidt was named the Stair Master for 2016 with a time of 2:08.o.  See the official results of the Stair Master HERE.


Several of the competitors in the inaugural Stair Master competition, to see who could run up the 437 stairs of the Crunch the fastest. Trevor Schmidt (far left) was named the Stair Master for 2016. Tara Carruthers (seen third in purple) was the top female competitor. Craig Premack placed first in the over 55; Liam Cotnor in the U15 group; and Carmen Lee in the 16-35 age group. Check our results page for more. (Photos: Joep Olthuis)

“We’ve already been in touch with the City of Helsinki to see about sending our  future winners to attempt their mountain and stair climb which inspired the Stair Master event at the Crunch,” said Brian Kenny.  “We are quite sure our stairs are much harder and longer than the stairs in Finland, and we will invite their fastest stair runner here.”

Although former record-holder of the Make It Or Break It Matt Sessions did not attend this year, some serious competitors came out to see how many times they could do the full loop of the Crunch in 4-hours.  Olympian Tina Connelly took the 2016 title matching Sessions with 8 loops as the new record holder, with a time of 3:56.48 — a distance of 35.2 km.  Connelly said entering was a last minute decision.  “The experience was a ‘challenge’ for sure, but I was pretty confident that I could get 8 loops in.  I planned to do the first 3 loops harder so that I could get a good buffer of time to work with, once the legs fatigued on the last few stair runs, and it seemed to work well for me.  As far as next year, I’m not sure. I think trying to do 9 loops in 4 hrs would be almost impossible for me so, I’m pretty satisfied with what I did here and that may be it for me. I’ll leave it to the young ones.” Read our feature about Connelly HERE.

To view all the results of the Make It Or Break It, click HERE.

“The event is well on its way of becoming a signature sport and community event for  Coquitlam, and has the potential to become one for the Vancouver Lower Mainland, and the west coast region,” said Robbin Whachell, who said she has met people who drive over the Port Mann Bridge to climb the Crunch on a regular basis. “I met a woman in Surrey who told me she carpools with her friends, and they love the Coquitlam Crunch, because it’s a whole lot easier than driving all the way to the Grouse Grind, and it’s free.”


The one to beat in 2017! Olympian Tina Connelly is the 2016 “Make It Or Break It” winner and new record holder with a total of 8 loops in 3:56.48 — a distance of 35.2 km. Check our results page for all the results in four age groups. (Photos: Joep Olthuis)

Next year’s date has already been announced and the event will take place on Saturday, September 9th, 2017. Interested sponsors can contact the organizing team at coquitlamcrunch@gmail.com.

The Coquitlam Crunch Challenge would not be possible without our volunteers, partners and sponsors.

Thanks goes out to the New Earth Marketing; Rod Macbeth and 98.7 CKPM FM The Point Radio; Eagle Ridge Chevrolet, Buick, GMCPasta Polo; Coquitlam Centre; Thrifty Foods  Vancity Port Moody, Wiivv Custom Fit 3D-Printed Orthotics, Jessica Prasad ilovehomes.ca, Starbucks, MaxFit Movement Institute, Xaler Massage, KD Fitness, Tri-City Printing, and the City of Coquitlam.

(Photos by and special thanks to event photographer,  Joep Olthuis, supandshoot.com)


Just some of the faces at Coquitlam Crunch ‘Diversity’ Challenge 2016 from left to right: Robbin Whachell, Janet Toddington, Mayor Richard Stuart, Sheynal Saujani, Alex Bell, Terry O’Neil, Jodie Wickens and children, Selina Robinson, Laurel Lawson, and Brian Kenny. (Photo: Joep Olthuis)

The Coquitlam Crunch ‘Diversity’ Challenge is an annual event founded by Tri-City’s resident Alex Bell, which celebrates diversity and supports the Nothin’ Dragon Masters senior dragon boat team and their community programs, and the Coquitlam Foundation’s ‘Diversity’ Fund. The event started in 2010 and takes place at the Coquitlam Crunch hiking trail in B.C., Canada. The Challenge features a Stair Master competition; the Make It Or Break It 4-hour competition; and a Recreational category.

“The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences.  These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.  It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.” – Source


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Coquitlam Crunch ‘Stair Master’ Competitors Challenged to Beat Helsinki’s World’s Fastest Stair Run!

In 2015 in Helsinki, Finland Marten Bostrom ran 400m in 64.00 seconds in an incredible display of stair climbing prowess as seen in this Youtube video.  He managed his ascent by taking every second or third stairs of the 426 climb known as Malminkartanonhuippu, an artificial hill near Helsinki. Not long after, a man named Toni Leinonen, completed the same stairs in a jaw-dropping 58.75 seconds!

Meanwhile in Canada and fast forward to 2016,  organizers of the 7th annual Coquitlam Crunch Challenge in Canada, have put out a challenge to Canadian athletes to run in this year’s Stair Master on Saturday, September 10th to see who in Canada is the fastest up the 437 stairs of the Coquitlam Crunch.   The Crunch is a steep, urban 2.3 km trail that follows a route under large hydro power lines and is Coquitlam’s version of the Grouse Grind, a well-known hiking trail in Vancouver.


At the top of the 437 stairs of the Coquitlam Crunch.

“We are very excited about this new category in the Coquitlam Crunch Challenge,” said event founder, Alex Bell. “So many people come to the Crunch just to do the stairs which were put in by the City in 2014. The Crunch is always open to the public during our annual challenge, but this year we will close the stairs (but not the side path) for 30 minutes or less to put on the Stair Master challenge,” said Bell.

Registration is underway and for the inaugural year of the Stair Master, the fee to sign-up is only $10! Trio Sporting Events will be providing timekeeping of this exciting uphill foot race.

“We feel our Stair Master climb is just as difficult as the Helsinki version and we have more bends and wider steps in some portions, as well as 9 more stairs!” said Brian Kenny, co-chair of the Coquitlam Crunch Challenge and president of the Nothin’ Dragon Masters dragon boat team who are the new event organizers. “It will be interesting to see who takes the challenge, and what the fastest time will be. We also encourage anyone to work on their personal best over the years ahead.”

The Stair Master will see competitors starting at 30 second intervals, and those that cannot make it to the top on a run, are asked to step to the side path to continue up walking, as not to impede the next contestant running the stairs after them.

Who will be the fastest up the 437 stairs of the Coquitlam Crunch on Saturday, September 10th?

Who will be the fastest up the 437 stairs of the Coquitlam Crunch on Saturday, September 10th?

Once the Stair Master is completed, the Coquitlam Crunch Challenge’s signature event, the Make It Or Break It which start at 9 am. It challenges competitors to run or walk the full Crunch trail loop of 4.5 km as many times as possible in 4 hours. Medals will be awarded in four age groups and in male and female divisions for both of these competitions.

If the Stair Master and the Make It Or Break It  sound too exhausting, there’s the Recreational category for families and individuals who want to go at their own pace.  “All participants will have time chips and bibs,” said Brian Kenny. “We think the children will get a kick out of being in the event, and everyone will leave knowing their time up to the top and down.”  The Recreational portion starts formally at 10 am, right after a fun family-friendly warmup by local fitness guru, Krista Langtry at 9:45 am.

The Coquitlam Crunch Challenge has something for everyone and event proceeds will go to the seniors paddling team, Nothin’ Dragon Masters as well as to a ‘Diversity Fund’ with the Coquitlam Foundation.
Online registration now closed – Come out at 7am on Saturday, September 10th to register for the 8am Stair Master.

The event is a City sanctioned #Coquitlam125 official event, and is proudly supported by New Earth Marketing, 98.7 CKPM FM, Vancity, Jessica Prasad ilovehomes.ca, Eagle Ridge Chevrolet Buick GMC, Pasta Pollo, Thrifty Foods, Starbucks, and Tri-City Printing.

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