Madison Sands has the new women’s record for the Grouse Grind. (Facebook photo)

Maple Ridge woman fastest up the Grouse Grind

Madison Sands sets a new record time on Vancouver’s fitness landmark

Madison Sands of Maple Ridge set a pair of new all-time speed records for running the Grouse Grind.

Sands took part in the Grouse Grind Mountain Run on Saturday at the popular North Vancouver course, which goes up the side of Grouse Mountain.

She trampled all over the previous women’s record of 30:52 by running the gruelling course in a time of 30 minutes and two seconds – beating the old mark by 50 seconds.

The Mountain Run is actually 500 m longer than the typical Grouse Grind course.

“It was grueling,” said Sands. “And near the top, it was like a waterfall – downpouring and windy.”

Sands, 24, running in the 20-29 age category, was the fourth fastest person overall on the day. The woman who finished second behind her ran the course in a distant 32:37.

Sands said she had a pretty good idea she could set the new record because last month she had set a new all-time Grind record for women by running it in 29.10. Runners get a Grind timer card that they can swipe at the bottom of the course and then again when they finish.

For comparison, the Vancouver Canucks have their team run the Grouse Grind as an annual training ritual, and the best time, posted by the iconic Sedin Twins, in an almost identical 32 minutes.

The next closest time by a woman, all time, is 31:46.

The Grind is a three-kilometre route that has an elevation increase of 850 metres, and is commonly called “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster.”

There was a $1,500 prize for the top male and female finishers and an additional $2,500 incentive for breaking the record in the weekend competition.

The Grouse Grind Mountain Run event raised money for the cardiology department of the B.C. Children’s Hospital.

Sands, an education assistant, and a fitness instructor at the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre, runs three or four times per week, including 17-km Sundays. She took second in the Tiburon half marathon in San Francisco last year, in a field of about 200 women.

She had been training to run a marathon, hoping to compete in the Vancouver BMO, but a stress fracture in March barred her from her habitual roadwork until June.

“I was bound to the stairmaster – that’s all I could do,” she said. “I’m just getting back into it [running].”

Her records may not surprise some local people familiar with Sands. She is a well known local athlete who was a female hockey midget triple=A all-star for the province while playing with the Fraser Valley Phantom, then went on to play for Mount Royal University in Calgary.

She was also a high school track star at Maple Ridge secondary as a 1,500-metre runner, and a member of the Golden Ears Track and Field club, and for some time was the only member of the school’s 300 club for successfully completing the Ramblers’ daunting fitness challenge.

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