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The challenging run put runners to the test, offering a tough up and down hill course, where the summit of the intense 20 km marathon is at 11 km, with a total elevation gain of 2,050 feet.

Lisa Schmick, a Fort St. John participant who was not only running in her first Emperor’s Challenge, but also her first marathon, says the event provides a very supportive environment.

“It was absolutely phenomenal for a first timer to go into it,” she says. “Everybody was friendly and encouraging; it didn’t really seem to matter about your fitness level, everyone was there in a united effort to see if you could get it done in five hours.”

Schmick entered the race with intentions of finishing at 4 hours, meaning she would run each kilometre in 12 minutes. She completed the race in 4:05.00, which averages out to 12 minutes 17 seconds per km, an accomplishment she is quite proud of, considering it was her first marathon.

Fort St. John’s top finishes included Scott Thurston, who finished seventh overall in the Men’s 20 km race, completing the marathon with a time of 1 hour, 42 minutes and 45 seconds, resulting in an average of 5 minutes and eight seconds per kilometre. Thurston raced in the Men’s 19-34 age bracket.

On the ladies side, Caroline Toews finished eighth overall with a time of 2 hours, 5 minutes and 20 seconds, averaging 6 minutes and 16 seconds per km. She raced in the Female’s 35-49 age bracket.

Despite the impressive results, the event also provided inspiration and a chance for runners to set and achieve athletic goals.

Schmick says the event helped her get over the mental roadblock of running and she has now been bitten by the running bug.

“It was very inspirational. I think the demons we got to alleviate are the ones in our own mind and not in our physical abilities… I start training this Friday with another group of girls because next year we’d all like to shave off an hour.”

She will have plenty of opportunities to prepare for next year’s Emperor’s Challenge, as she will be running in her second race ever this September in a 10 km walk and run taking place in Quesnel.

To view the complete list of results from the 2012 Emperor’s Challenge, visit the marathon’s official website.

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