Another opinion, FWIW, from another amateur woman. 7 of the 18 in our category didn't finish. Several chose to skip a stage. Others (including Sparkplug and I) did all of the climbs, but were several minutes past the grace period for Stage 4, so were turned around. I also missed my start for Stage 3, but was in the 5 minute grace period and was started 15 sec after another racer (whom I passed; I myself was passed later in the stage when I was off to the side fixing a mechanical). I don't think the racer behind me was terribly bothered that I only had 15 seconds on her…all the women are super friendly, supportive, and (I think) happy to let those of us struggling be allowed to still continue.
I liked the course, both the physical and technical challenge. This is my third year doing the race (I was on the podium last year) and I will sign up again next year. My favourite stages were 2, 4, and 5, and I was, like Sparkplug, disheartened that I wasn't able to race Stage 4.
I think it is unrealistic (and ridiculous) to expect the fitness level of the amateur women's category to be the same as even the amateur men. I didn't need the climbs to be easier. I just needed more time to get there. For those saying you had time to swim, rest up for 10 min before your start, etc… I did not. At the end of each stage, I switched helmets as quickly as I could and immediately pedaled off to the next start, and I know Whistler well enough that I didn't get lost.
It was an amazing event. And probably the hardest day I've done on a bike.