It was a different opponent than usual for Davit Dzavashvili.
Instead of looking a burly opponent in the eyes on the other side of a boxing ring, it was a looming mountain staring down the 28-year-old boxer on Sunday.
But Dzavashvili didn’t flinch in one of his first experiences conquering a long-distance race, let alone up a mountain, and ended up claiming the 2015 Mt. Hays Quickclimb challenge as the day’s fastest overall climber with a time of 39 minutes and 24 seconds.
“It is quite different than what I’m used to do – fighting professionally back home [in southeastern Europe’s Georgia]. Fighting in a ring and climbing are quite different. With boxing, you see your opponent and how strong he is. You can strategize to see where his weakness is and you can work through that, but when you’re racing, you’re racing against your [best] time and you don’t really know what’s going or who’s ahead. You have to keep going until you cross the finish line,” the winner said after the race.
The high-intensity fitness trainer who co-operates Prince Rupert’s Red Shadow Boxing trained on the mountain, highways and Butze Rapids trails to prepare for Sunday’s race, but an unexpected hiccup met Dzavashvili toward the end of the climb.
“Last Sunday, my teammates and I were climbing up and I did it in 33 minutes, but that was the first yellow pole and I didn’t exactly know where the finish line was. We thought it was the first pole and as far as I know from 2010 and the last Quicklclimb, the winning time was [Judd Rowse’s] 35 minutes and I had 33,” Dzavshvili explained.
“So today, when I started here and I reached the first yellow pole, there were no people and I thought ‘what’s going on?’. Then I reached the next pole, and no people. Then I reached the third yellow pole and no people. And I just kept going and going and from the fourth pole to the finish, it was another 700 – 800 more metres and I realized [I saw] people screaming ‘Davit, push it!’. But it was rough, I wasn’t expecting it. Halfway up my legs felt pretty toast.”
Rowse finished a mere three seconds behind Dzavashvili at 0:39.24 to take runner-up for the 6.5 kilometre climb on Sunday.
Organizers Kristina De Araujo of Quickload Logistics and Sean Carlson of McElhanney led a troupe of tireless organizers to put on the North Coast’s first Mt. Hays race since 2010 and its fourth overall.
“Sean … phoned me up in November and said ‘do you want to bring this back to life?’,” said De Araujo.
“I think it’s been fantastic. It’s definitely gone very smooth, which I think is great. We had a larger committee too, which is nice and they didn’t all necessarily represent their companies, but they should all get some recognition … I had texts last week or so of people saying ‘hey, what was the fastest overall time for [this category], and they want to know, because they’re prepping and that’s just great.”
“I thought it was a unique event, different from a general race because it had a focus or purpose [in 2010] and it was meant to create a legacy in the community and that’s what I wanted to be able to support,” said Carlson, who mapped out the route himself driving up the mountain, taking coordinates and inputting them into a GPS unit.
“I got all that data back to the office and did it up. One thing McElhanney does is air photos. [We combined that with] quality ground data showing elevations and I was able to put it all together and get a good picture [of the route],” Carlson said.
And right from arriving at base camp, Dzavashvili knew he had a competitive fire in him and wanted to claim the mountain-top for himself.
“If I’m doing any sport or participating in something, all I’m seeing is [the goal of] winning,” said the new father of seven weeks.
“In Georgia, we definitely see things differently than people in Canada here. Here they want to [compete] to be healthy and they want to prove it to themselves that they can do it and back home, we want to win. That is our drive and the reason why I’m here. When I saw the trophy, I said ‘This trophy; I want to have it close to me. That trophy is my goal and why I’m here.’ I want to thank [everyone at] Red Shadow Boxing, my wife Kirsten, the volunteers and organizers and our little girl, Viviana. So, I’m really grateful for that support,” Dzavashvili said.
Tanveen Sahdra, 16, won the under-19 female race with a time of 0:53.07 and Piers Denton, 3, won the under-19 male category, finishing the race in 1:38.51.
The over-50 male category saw David Shearer, 66, take the win in 1:01.01 and Pam McSorley, 56, won the over-50 female contest, crossing the finish line in 1:18.40.
Dzavashvili won the 19-49 male division, with Rowse, 48, nipping on his heels three seconds behind at 0:39.24 and Mary Denton, 33, won the 19-49 female category in 0:46.27.
A de-brief meeting was held this past Tuesday and organizers are in the process of deciding whether or not to green-light a 2016 iteration.