2016 Emperor’s Challenge to be featured in international sports tourism study

Norwegian researcher Tor-Arne Gjertsen preparing to compete in this year's Emperor's Challenge. Photo by Emperor's Challenge/Facebook.

TUMBLER RIDGE, B.C. – The 18th Annual Emperor’s Challenge will be taking place once again this weekend in Tumbler Ridge, and will be featured as part of an international sports tourism study.

Tor-Arne Gjertsen is a Norwegian research scientist who will not only be competing in this year’s half-marathon south of Tumbler Ridge, but will also be gathering data on the race and its effect on the local economy. The data will be used in a survey being conducted by Dr. Claude Sobry at Lille University in France. Race organiser Jerrilyn Schembri explained that the survey is being undertaken to study the socio-economic impact of sporting events on small communities worldwide, particularly those which have seen a downturn in their local economies. According to Schembri, Gjertsen recently returned from a trip to gather similar data in the southern Siberian town of Khatystyr, Yakutia, which hosts an annual Iditarod-style reindeer race and is known for its reindeer herding. Gjertsen and Sobry’s research will be presented to the Sports Tourism Conference in Grenoble, France in January of 2017.

The 20-kilometre footrace will see over 1,000 participants running and hiking along the scenic route that traverses two mountains south of Tumbler Ridge near the idled Peace River Coal mine. Schembri says that roughly 35 percent of racers in this year’s Challenge are from the Fort St. John area, close to the 38 percent from last year. Kris Swanson, who won last year’s race by nearly three minutes ahead of the next place contestant despite racing with a broken collarbone and severe road rash is set to compete once again this year, despite suffering a broken foot earlier this year. The race begins at the Core Lodge, approximately 35 kilometres south of Tumbler Ridge on Saturday at 9:00 a.m.