Peter Mpala and his girlfriend, Brooklyn Cherniak at the Squamish 50:50 race. (Courtesy/Peter Mbala)

Peter Mpala and his girlfriend, Brooklyn Cherniak at the Squamish 50:50 race. (Courtesy/Peter Mbala)

Yukoners compete in the Squamish 50 in British Columbia

Runner sets sights on the Boston Marathon

Roughly 10 Yukoners ran the Squamish 50 this year.

The trail running race was held in Squamish, British Columbia on Aug. 19 and 20. It was established 11 years ago by Coast Mountain Trail Running. This year, it served as the Canadian Mountain and Trail Running Championship for the 50 kilometre and 50 mile distances.

Over the course of the weekend, competitors can run a 50-mile race on Saturday, a 50-kilometre race on Sunday, or a 23-kilometre race on Sunday. Gluttons for punishment can opt to run both the 50-mile and 50-kilometre distances, back-to-back, in what’s known as the 50/50. Those who complete the 50/50 receive a coveted custom-made hat.

According to the organizers, the race introduced a $500 cash prize this year for any male and female runner who could set a new course record for the 50/50, determined as the cumulative time taken to run both distances.

Carcross resident Peter Mpala, who moved to the Yukon from Uganda in 2019, was among the competitors at the Squamish event. Mpala won the Raven 50-miler in Whitehorse earlier this summer.

“It was a good experience because the mountains there are different from the mountains here,” he said. “I travelled with my girlfriend who was helping me with my race shoes and meal plans.”

He said his trainer Denise McHale helped in training and preparing him for the race including regular drills and mountain races.

“She told me, ‘you are a natural runner’ and introduced me to mountain races,” he said. “She helped me with my diet, speed control, and race tactics. The more I run, the more I develop my running skills.”

During the race in B.C., Mpala finished the 50-miler in 10 hours, 58 minutes, and four seconds on Aug. 19. The next day, he finished the 50-kilometre distance in eight hours, 27 minutes and 49 seconds.

“The race was challenging but as runners don’t give up,” he said.

Tyler Bradford is a Whitehorse resident who participated in the 50-kilometre race. He finished in nine hours, 25 minutes and 24 seconds. Bradford said he thought it was a great race and well-organized.

“The trails were beautiful with excellent volunteers. I met other runners and we had a great run,” he said.

Mpala told the News he participated in the Squamish race because he wanted to prepare and qualify for the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, a mountain ultramarathon race.

“I will go into the draw for the UTMB and if I qualify, I will run next year. What will happen is that I will keep running bigger races to collect more points in order to qualify,” he said.

Established in 2003, the UTMB is described as “the most mythical and prestigious trail running race in the world” with 171 kilometres and 10,000 metres of positive elevation gain around the Mont-Blanc through Italy, Switzerland and France.

Mpala said to run the UTMB, competitors have to qualify by collecting points at certain eligible races. The Squamish 50/50 gives runners points for both the 50-mile distance and the 50-kilometre distance.

Mpala said he is looking forward to his next running adventure in the Yukon. From Sept. 8 to 9, he will participate in the Klondike Road Relay from Skagway to Whitehorse.

He told the News his next goal is to run the Boston Marathon. Last year, he ran the Royal Victoria Marathon and finished in three hours, 18 minutes. To qualify for the Boston Marathon, a runner must finish in under three hours.

This year, Mpala ran the Vancouver Marathon again. This time, he finished in two hours and 48 minutes, which is enough to qualify him for the Boston Marathon next year.

Contact Patrick Egwu at