August 12, 2012

Sweet Squamish Single Track

After a years break, yesterday an August 50 miler in Squamish was back in action with the old Stormy race being revamped by my Montrail teammie Gary Robbins and Geoff Langford as the new Arc'teryx Squamish 50.  Anyone who has even met Gary would have not been surprised by the event:

- Lots of sweet single track on mountain bike trails including some crazy bike brigdes and slip slidin' descents.

- Within an hour of the start you had made so many twists and turns both up and down and left and right than you had lost all sense of direction but this didn't really matter as the course was flagged into oblivion.

- The whole Squamish/ Van ultra community out in force volunteering or racing to support GR.

- Lots of attention to detail (winners tape when crossing the line, gluten free chips at the aid stations, tonnes of fun give aways, buzzing finish line atmosphere with a beer garden)

So it was a 100% Gary course which I actually remarked to a guy I was running with for a bit as we jumped down one of the steeper descents, but hey - at least the Squamish trails are super soft for landing, whether on your feet or your backside.  With around 9800ft of elevation fast times weren't expected but even so, most people came over the finish line well over an hour after they had expected as of course the constant roots and other trail obstacles were not really conducive to speed.  There were some connector sections that were less technical, but by the time we had all run on one short section of forest service road three times I think we were all excited to get back onto single track even if it was slower going, at least it provided interesting terrain rather a mind numbing and mentally challenging runnable non technical gravel hill to trudge, trudge, trudge up.

I had a pretty solid race.  After White River being a real challenge on the legs 2 weeks ago for the whole race as I'd pretty much not rested at all, I took a bit of an easier week pre-Squamish and the legs definitely appreciated it come race day.  Sure, I felt pretty sleepy and just tired most of the race but the legs were ok (apart from being super slow on the uphills) so I could enjoy most of the race.  As ever, even with this not being a focus race the last 20km or so it was 'grin and bear it' (and fortunately only bear poop and no actually bears were seen on course).  Squamish always seems considerably hotter than Vancouver and although the view view points on the course were great it was also super to spend most of the day in the cool shade of the forest.

A fab day out for sure and a solid 80km effort.  Probably not ideal training for CCC 100km in 3 weeks time as the course was constantly rolling rather than having long climbs and long descents - bit still, 80km and 8h04min on the feet is in the bag and with all the BCMCs and Mountain Highway work I've been doing in the last little while one race with less climbing is probably not a bad thing at all.

Big big thank you as ever to all the super race vollies who spent hours out on the trail, big big well done to Gary and Geoff for an event than I can highly recommend, and big big congrats to my many friends who raced - some of whom chose Squamish as not exactly the easiest 50-miler debut.

We passed Ran, Mike and Gordon the Gorilla 3 times on the course.  I was so happy to see Ran & Mike I never even noticed Gordon... or maybe I was just delirious in the heat by that point.

Looking much better than I felt with about 7km to go.  Photo copyright: David McColm Photography

Who know Gary Robbin had artistic talents!  Nice hand painted finishers plate GR.

With Dennene - on her 50 miler comeback :)