The Antelope eventually galloped through the finish-line to a rapturous reception from the Panorama Park crowd in a stellar time of 5:47:14, to win the RWTR, finish eighth overall and 2nd Master (Over-40); only overall winner Peter Findlay standing taller than him on that rostrum.
Overcome with a mixture of elation and emotion, Abby was petted by wife Tammy and twin calves Airlie & Haylie in Deep Cove, as what he'd just achieved began to sink in.
Before it had, though, he pulled out his Canon Quickshot and began trying to woo them with the three-and-a-half thousand blurred photos he'd taken during his maiden Knee Knacker voyage.
Taking the silver in a PB of 6:04:10 was Bill the Bionic Beaver who, just weeks earlier, had run the Knee Knacker course in reverse, then the right way round (a total time of 15 hours) to claim the 2008 100k Double Knacker crown. Unbelievable!
Celebrating his 10th KK appearance/finish, 3B also maintained his 16th position overall with solid second-half segments of 1:29 & 1:38, his secret electrolyte concoction and regular popping of Vitamin I more-than-enough to see him slice almost 17 minutes off his previous best time, a 6:21:08 effort in 2004.
3B celebrated in customary fashion, doing another Double Knacker as a warm-down – and in record speed, at that, as he still managed to make it back in time for the race banquet that evening.
Banking the bronze was Susan the Hawk, with her own PB of 6:16:25. Having been 43rd overall at half-way and 4th female, The Hawk swooped down on an array of helpless KK prey in Part II – including a slowing El Toro (beset by cramp and a fractured toe in the latter stages) – running a speedy 1:31 for the third quarter and then sealing a Masters victory with a sprightly 1:37 for the final leg.
The positive influence of Ellie the Greyhound – sunning herself on Saltspring Island after controversially missing out on a Knee Knacker place despite having won 23 ultra titles in the first half of 2008 – had clearly rubbed off on her good friend The Hawk.
Despite her speedy second-half effort, The Hawk was almost pipped at the post for the bronze by the fast-finishing Coyote.
Kiwi Campbell, after running out of weblog flyers and shedding his alter-ego Cameron the Chihuahua in a remote area of copse just west of Lynn Canyon, ran a decent third quarter of 1:37 – passing a struggling Albatross and El Toro along the way, before really cranking up the pressure in the final leg, clocking the 10th fastest time overall, 1:34:07.
His final time of 6:24:18 earned him 32nd place overall – and a warm embrace from wife Tanya at the finish. A sterling performance from Mr. Willis who, having now acquired a taste for the 'longer stuff', decided there was a Stormy-front (as in the Stormy 50-miler) coming just a few weeks later.
Johnny the Albatross, having avoided getting lost and going feather-over-tit on a wooden bridge during the first half of the race, hoped to make the three-way battle for bronze a four-way one in Part II. Sadly his body had other ideas.
Staying just within sight of The Hawk up Nancy Greene Way, JA's right quad seized up as he entered the base of Grouse and only the timely intervention of Owen the Otter (coming up fast behind with some electrolyte solution) ensured he could continue his quest for Knee Knacker glory.
Nursing the quad and fending off any further cramp, The Albatross registered a fairly tame time for the third quarter (1:47), before downing several gallons of salt-water, salt-covered potatoes and defizzed Coke to pick the pace up again for the final leg – including the tough Seymour Grind section – and eventually breasted the chequered flag in a respectable 6:45:06, for 55th overall.
Three minutes quicker than that in 2007, El Toro had a torrid time as he tried to toe the line in a second-half battle against cramp and dodgy digits.
Five minutes clear of The Hawk at The Dam, Bushnell the Bull’s sodium-sapped muscles launched a not-so-peaceful protest in Part II – and he was forced to tap into an immense amount of will-power and determination just to make it to the finish.
El Toro’s journey was made all-the-more difficult by a hoof injury he sustained en route, when trying to boisterously butt a competitor wearing red into Lynn Canyon during the third quarter.
Beset by a particularly strong dose of cramp at just the wrong moment, he ended up stubbing his hoof on a rock instead. El Toro eventually limped/trotted through the tape in 7:07:32, still finishing inside the Top 80 and only 25 minutes slower than his effort last year.
Assuming the role of sweeper in the RWTR (a role expertly performed by Johnny the Dutch Jaguar from Cypress to The Dam in the race proper) was Sukhi the Sabre-toothed Squirrel, who chugged into Panorama Park 7 hours, 32 minutes & 33 seconds after setting off from Westmont Road.
Sabretooth was right on the 2-hour mark for the third quarter of the race, getting slightly sidetracked along the way when he discovered a small forest of hazelnuts growing in a section of Grouse Mountain and stocked up for winter.
Not weighed down too much by his nuts – despite carrying a large bagful – Sabretooth rallied again in the final quarter and clocked a decent 1:58 for the last leg, chugging into Deep Cove looking like he could easily repeat the feat.
Sabretooth’s effort was good enough for 106th place overall – and he celebrated by cracking open his bag of nuts... washed down by a can of beer. His race nutrition plan had also been bang-on this time: two cups of water at The Dam.
What an amazing day... and an amazing effort from all the runners and volunteers!
CAST, IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE:
Abby the Antelope – Mike Palichuk
Johnny the Albatross – BC Johnny Atkinson
Campbell the Coyote/Cameron the Chihuahua – Campbell Willis
El Toro/Bushnell the Bull – Terry Bushnell
Susan the Hawk – Susan ‘Runner’ Reynolds
Sukhi the Sabre-toothed Squirrel – Sukhi Pawa
Bill the Bionic Beaver/3B – Bill Dagg
Ellie the Greyhound – Ellie Greenwood
Johnnie the Dutch Jaguar – John Neels
* P.S. If you haven’t yet tackled the fabled Knee Knacker, put it on your Bucket List – it’s a race for the ages! http://www.kneeknacker.com/