Coquitlam Crunch Challenge to Celebrate 10th Year of Embracing Diversity

Flashback to 2010! Starting at 6 a.m. on August 29, Coquitlam resident and Safe Harbour co-ordinator Alexander Bell began to climb up and down the Coquitlam Crunch trail, as many times as he could in one day, after teaming up with the Coquitlam Foundation to launch a Community Diversity Fund for Coquitlam.

Bell made the climb 10 times that day, and his goal after that was to raise $10,000 over five years so that the fund would begin to generate enough interest to start distributing annual grants within the Tri-Cities.

“My vision for the future is to have people representing every diversity group to join me in the Coquitlam Crunch Diversity Challenge,” Bell said.

His financial goal was achieved in 2015, and to date, over $20,000 has been raised for the Community Diversity Fund 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. The fund now generates a yearly diversity grant of approximately $800.

In 2011 the event started as a 12-hour challenge but found its groove as a 4-hour event since 2015. In the early days, a simple timekeeping system of synchronized watches and a card punch after each lap was used. Today the event has advanced to professional timekeeping with participants wearing time chips and numbered bibs.

Alex Bell in 2010, the year he founded the Coquitlam Crunch Diversity Challenge. He’s also seen with his daughter Sierra in the top image.

History highlights:

2010 – The Coquitlam Crunch Diversity Challenge is born. The record for the 12-hour Make It or Break It category of 10 round trips was set by founder, Alex Bell.

2011 –  Bell was joined by over 40 people doing the Challenge, and 15 volunteers supported.

2012 – Matt Sessions sets a new Make It or Break It record for 17 round trips in a 12-hour period. This record stands to this day.

2013 – Matt Sessions once again is the top competitor with 14 consecutive round trips in the Make It or Break It.  The “Anything’s Possible Trail” category was created in order to accommodate people with mobility challenges. The “Anything’s Possible” trail began at Northside Foursquare Church at the corner of Lansdowne Drive and David Avenue. Brain injury survivor and activist Michael Coss led this walk.

2014 – The city installs stairs for the steepest part of the trail. Matt Sessions repeats his record of 17 consecutive round trips in 12-hours.

2015Make it Or Break it moves to a 4-hour challenge and Matt Sessions wins completing 8 loops, clocking 24-minutes on his first loop. The new 4-hour format, most definitely added the speed component.

2016Nothin’ Dragon Masters 50+ dragon boat team joins as partners and event organizers. Trio Sports Events becomes official timekeeper.  The Stair Master is born and Trevor Schmidt takes the inaugural title in a time of 2:08. Make It Or Break It winner is Tina Connelly with 8 loops in a time of 3:56.  Guy Black does the 24-hour challenge. Medals were introduced for the two timed events.

2017Make It Or Break It new record holder, Ray Barrett with 8 loops in 3:35. New Stair Master record holder is Steven Hughes with a time of 2.00.

2018Towerrunning World Association recognizes the Stair Master event, and Nick Mcdonald sets a new record of 1:34. Make It Or Break It new record set by Douglas Race with 9 loops in 3:50.

2019Bahamas Athletics recognizes the event. New record-holders to be determined on September 7.

Matt Sessions in 2012. Matt is the 12-hour record holder with 17 loops. Today the Make It Or Break It is a 4-hour challenge.

Register Early and Save!

Online registration is discounted and runs until Sept. 3, 2019 for the Make It Or Break It 4-hour challenge; the Stair Master challenge; and the Recreational category which is perfect for families, friends, and colleagues whether they are athletic or not. All participants in each event are bibbed and time chipped (optional for Recreational), and it’s a fun way for the kids (and adults) to see how long it takes to go up and down the beloved hiking trail.

Even though the city expanded the trail with a new east stairway in 2018, the event sticks to the traditional route which includes the west 437 stairs. It is the shorter route, but participants can use either stairway. Recreational participants are encouraged to use the new east stairs and leave the west stairs for the racers. The trail is open to the public during the 4-hour event, but the west stairs will be closed for 1 half-hour only during the Stair Master event between 8 to 8:30 am.

“We’re excited to be celebrating the 10th event,” said event co-chairperson, Brian Kenny. “We’re looking for local businesses to get on board to make this the best event yet.” Interested sponsors can email to learn more, and community groups interested in participating with a group donation are also welcome, and will also be listed as a sponsor.

The event has been supported by so many people. Here’s a photo in 2014 when Olympians Leah Pells and Chris Wilson took part. Event founder Alex Bell is on the far left.

Alex Bell (in white) in 2015 with some of the recreational participants of the Coquitlam Crunch Diversity Challenge.

Join our list of 2019 sponsors: New Earth Marketing, City of Coquitlam, Oddball Workshop Apparel, Fraser Health, The Tri-City News, FortisBC,  snapd Tri-Cities, Vancity, Trio Sports Events, Bahamas Athletics, Sandpiper Signs & Decals, Eagle Ridge Chevrolet Buick GMC, Rod MacBeth, Ontrack Dental, Body by Brandt, Coquitlam Chrysler, lululemon, Pasta Pollo, Starbucks, and Thrifty Foods.

Learn more at

We’ve come a long way! Register today for the 10th annual event in either the Stair Master, Make It Or Break It, or Recreational!

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