Q&A with founders of Pemberton’s Nimby50
Where did the name Nimby50 come from?
There is a race in the States called the Cream Puff 100. We knew our race wouldn’t be 100k but thought it would be close to 50k. The big Nimby is the back bone of the course so there it is – the Nimbyfifty…
What was the inspiration to develop a race like this?
Racing other races around the valley and then riding in Pemberton and thinking to ourselves we could put on a kick ass race here in Pemberton. One day Terry [Evans] and I [Russ Wood] were riding and just started talking about it, where the course would go and how cool it would be. That was in the summer… some time late fall I mentioned it to Dean [Linnell] and he was keen so we put the wheels in motion just after the new year.
What are your backgrounds as race organisers/event producers?
Ummm, pretty much zero really. We have all competed in many races over the years, I work in Ski School where we organize large numbers of people every day, Terry designs websites and put together an great site with some excellent web based communication and forum style marketing, and Dean knows everyone in town through his real estate business. Between the three of us we seemed to work well together to put everything in place.
So, what made you feel qualified to organise a race like this?
How hard could it be… just joking. But really we never had too many doubts, we know bike racing from the point of a competitor so just turned that around and started to put the details together. There were definitely some things that we had no clue about but one by one we figured it out. We would meet every couple of weeks all winter at the Pony, go over the plans, make some notes on a napkin and then go from there.
At what point did you know that it was going to be successful?
We actually had a good gut feel by mid February. We had not launched the site yet or done anything official other than talk to our friends about it… but just through word of mouth we started to hear from people we didn’t even know “hey do you know anything about that bike race up in Pemberton this year? That was pretty cool. Once we launched the site and the online registration we go a post going on nsmb.com and within about 30 minutes we had our first registration, then within about a week we probably had 30. Most of them were from Vancouver area and the word seemed to be spreading fast, so at that point we were pretty sure we were going to be getting some good numbers and a successful event.
Who were the racers?
Out of the 230 registrations we had at least half were from outside of the Sea to Sky, lots from the lower mainland, the island and probably about 15 from Washington state. We also had a good group from the interior/Okanagan, probably another 20. Ages ranges from 19 up to 50+, with the 30-39 category being the largest in the men and women. We had 46 women in the end, although when registration started it seemed like we might get more, plus we had Catherine Pendrel the World Cup leader right now! In general I think most of the riders were either people who follow most of the marathon length scene around, as well as some really good riders who don’t usually race, but the technical single track aspect of this race turned them on to register and compete.
The race was described by many participants simultaneously as “savage”, and “I can’t wait to come back next year.” What’s that about?
Very cool – Pretty much exactly what we were hoping for to be honest. We wanted a course that was predominantly single track and one that was tough. Not tough as in needing to huck or drop, but a course that keeps you on your toes the entire time. Nothing against some of the other races around, but a course that is almost entirely single track is what Pemberton naturally had to offer and that it what we tried to market and deliver. As far as the response with people interested in next year that is very gratifying, you never know how things will out and we are stoked that the racers are stoked to come back again next year and try for a little redemption.
What was the carnage rate? Just one collarbone?
Not bad, one collarbone and one very sore shoulder… other than that just some scrapes and bruises, a few broken bike parts, and some broken souls… but those will heal.
Do you feel as if this race will go someway to putting Pemberton on the map?
I think Pemberton has been becoming “on the map” for a couple of years now, but hopefully this will accelerate it especially as far as XC riding is concerned. It’s gotten some press for it’s DH riding, but the climb up Nimby and Let It Go is truly one of the best single track climbs you find anywhere. Link this up with some of the other tough but doable trails and I think there is a whole world of “trail” riders that will love this place. As far as what the race will be known for… we did go after that “3 weeks out from the Test of Metal training race” idea to try to grab some of that crowd. However after talking to people after the race I think the NimbyFifty could become a classic all to itself. It’s a little bit of a different race to the Test, although lots of the riders will do both. In the end we have no ambitions to grow it that big, I’m not sure the trails could take it, but as one guy (who finished high up, about 20th) I spoke to at the finished said “This will be the xc race that all other xc races will be compared to, get ready for next year.”
What makes your event a fit for Pemberton?
Great trails, great riding community and a real grassroots feel to the town and the event. That is something we really wanted to put into the race… From a local fundraising team for cancer doing the food, to Papa Josh, a fire pit and sitting around on hay bales afterwards having beers, we really wanted to keep the grass roots feeling alive and I think that fits Pemberton very well.
What are the plans for next year?
Can’t wait… Preliminary thoughts are to expand slightly to 300, but that’s it. My feeling is that that will sell out online fairly quickly. We will probably try to drum up a little more sponsorship so that we can add in some more extras for the racers, but aside from that we’ll have the same track and put on a race where people can come out, hammer hard and then hang out and tell stories after.
Any other stories to share?
Overall I am amazed at the dedication of our volunteers and how many people came out to get involved, people who we didn’t know at all giving their entire day to help out. Tons of the feedback has been about how great the vollies were. Aside from that the it has been great to hear the positive feedback. This NSMB blog I think sums it up very well http://bb.nsmb.com/showthread.php?t=131912&page=5
Neal Kindree coming across the finish line and saying that his was “the most savage xc race he’s ever done” was awesome.