What is it that compels an individual to voluntarily subject their body and mind to the rigors of a physical challenge that pushes the threshold of endurance and strength? Essentially, why suffer, with the emphasis on voluntarily?
It is a phenomenon that undoubtedly puzzles some, as the secret to the answer lies within the act itself. In other words, it can’t be explained, only experienced.
Introducing the Kootenay Suffer Fest, the family—orientated, competitive—style run and cycle event that invites all ages and levels of would-be athletes to participate.
After four years of developing recognition and garnering regional attention, the Kalso Suffer Fest has grown beyond the borders of its original host community to include race events in New Denver and Nakusp. Now in its fifth year and sporting the revised moniker, Kootenay Suffer Fest, the recreational event spanned three days of competition over the Labour Day long weekend.
Nakusp hosted a 5 kilometer fun run, an off-road duathlon with both junior and adult categories, a 20 kilometer bike Tour de Nakusp and the popular Furry Forty bike race. Nakusp also was designated the finish line of the three day, 200 kilometer trail run event, trademarked as the Loonie Toonie. Competitors who participated in this race logged over 30 hours of running and tackled trails that included Idaho Peak and Buchanan Lookout, finishing up with a straight stretch from New Denver to Nakusp along the old rail trail.
Local resident, Janice Neufeld, is the driving force behind Kootenay Suffer Fest and is ecstatic about the successful expansion. Neufeld is a professional coach with a degree in physical education and has recently qualified for the Kona Ironman triathlon competition this coming October. She is the event director for the Kootenay Suffer Fest Society and was instrumental in creating the not-for-profit group in 2011.
The Nakusp events drew competitors from all over B.C. and Alberta as well as a number of local participants. Full results can be viewed online through a link embedded in the Kootenay Suffer Fest website, but some local results of note include: Brent Wanstall’s seventh place finish and Joanne Aleric’s first place woman’s finish in the Furry Forty, Kolibri Drobish’s third place showing for the junior duathlon and Kalen Jones’ astounding second place finish in the off-road duathlon competition.
“Nakusp just rocks,” Neufeld shares. “That’s why I live here. The population here was so welcoming of this event, I felt like the community was behind us 100 per cent. It was amazing to have village councilors and the mayor volunteering and out there cheering people on.”
By all indications, the Kootenay Suffer Fest hopes to repeat their successes next year with a similar three-community event design, but would like to expand the scope of the society.
“I would like Suffer Fest to become an umbrella organization,” Neufeld says, “and instead of having just one event, I think that we could bring in others. I have already been approached by Burton to possibly come on board for their race in June, and Rossland has expressed interested as well.”
Neufled clarified that the current long weekend Suffer Fest event is unlikely to expand any further.
“I love the feedback we have been getting. I think we nailed it, we have found our niche,” Neufeld explains. “I think this three community model worked.”