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 :)


  1. Awesome job! I sit here in Leadville getting ready for my first LT 100! Keep truckin'!

  2. Well done Ellie & sounds like a course right up my alley. My next big race is the Kepler Challenge on Dec 1st & can't wait to get back to NZ.

  3. You never cease to amaze me! and thank you for unknowingly giving me a confidence boost. I also finished an hour slower than expected, so its nice to hear it was commonplace, and I'm just not a slug. It was a beautiful first 50 miler for me. Thank you for your race report!

  4. Looks like an awesome run. I would love to get out there.

  5. Lori - good luck at Leadville! Heather - congrats on your race, not an easy first 50 miler!

    Campbell - brought back lots of Stormy memories including those of training with you. hope we can hit the trails again another time sooner rather than later. Sure Kepler challenge will be a lot of fun. All the best to you and Tanya xx

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  7. Hey Ellie, well done out there Saturday, it was a blast of a race to watch unfold. I volunteered near the end (bearded dude in the pink/purple cast!). It was really inspiring to see you and everyone else finishing such a challenging, beautiful course.

    One note-- more than scat was seen @ the Squamish 50. Around the 12 hour mark a big old black bear came out of the woods about 75' away from me right there in the middle of town and proceeded to cross the street and go make volunteers and runners nervous further back on the course. You know Josh Barringer, he almost ran over the thing-- a minute or two slower and he would have been hurdling it!

    Maybe I'll see you out there next year, I'm hoping to be fully recovered in time to train for the 21k. We'll see.

  8. Wow that sounds pretty cool! Congrats!

  9. Hi Ellie I'm so glad I got to meet you in person after the race. I became a big fan after following you post Comrades you are AMAZING to win WS 100 after Comrades! I underestimated this race it was even tougher than Comrades and way too technical for me (I'm a road runner)! I fell 5 times hit my head and rolled my ankle 8 times ha put shame on the lucky Comrades shirt I wore :-/ You are AWESOME good luck in all your upcoming races I'll be following/cheering for you!

  10. Congrats Ellie! Absolutely amazing job!

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