17-year-old Port Hardy Secondary School student Jaylon Grenier set a personal best at the Kusam Klimb this year, which ultimately made him the fastest Port Hardy ‘klimber’.
According to its website, the Kusam Klimb is a wild and rugged 23 km loop heading up and over the back of Mt. H’Kusam then down the Stowe Creek watershed. Starting at sea level, participants pass through some of the most spectacular scenery on Vancouver Island with views of mountain peaks and the Johnstone Strait as they negotiate their way over the well-developed trail.
Last year, Grenier finished with a time of four hours and 30 minutes. He destroyed his previous time at this year’s klimb, finishing roughly 29 minutes faster.
“Last year there was spray painting on the gravel road and I thought it said one kilometre, so I started sprinting because I thought I was at the end, but it actually said seven kilometres — so yeah, I was walking for a bit,” he laughed.
When asked what the hardest part of the race is, Grenier said the mountain “is probably the toughest part, mentally you feel like you just don’t want to do it.”
He stated once you get to the top of the hill and start going down, “it’s not as bad.”
Grenier ran with Port McNeill’s Graham Sadler this year, and they ended up posting the exact same time of 4:01.
In order to properly train for the event, Grenier said he did a lot of cardio training. He played soccer and alternated that with running, biking, and swimming (Grenier competes in triathlons in his spare time).
In hindsight, he realized he should have done some hiking to help prepare more.
“I don’t really do hiking that much,” he said, adding that is “kind of where I lack when it came to the mountain part. I’m good at running in a straight line, but it’s difficult when you factor in the snow and the altitude.”
Two kilometres of the klimb was covered in snow this year which ended up slowing him down, but once he made it to the top of Mt. H’Kusam, Grenier confirmed he felt satisfied with his progress.
He then slid down the mountain instead of using the ropes, mainly to save time.
From there, he and Sadler “pretty much ran the whole way.”
Grenier finished 84 out of 513 people who came from all over the world to compete in the event.
He said he felt pretty good about setting the fastest Port Hardy time this year, and mentioned it must have been his good cardio and strong mentality that helped him with the achievement.
Grenier added he will be going back next year and hopes to beat his new personal best time.
When asked if he will beat it by 29 minutes again, Grenier just laughed and said “maybe.”