This year made my 3rd year in a row running a distance in the Squamish 50 series. My love affair with the Squamish 50 began when I signed up for my first trail race, the 50km option, in 2013. The following year would see me attempting and finishing my first 50 miler and this year I chose the 50km option once again.
What exactly is it about this race that keeps me coming back for more? Here are 10 of my favourite things about this race and reasons why you should put this race on your yearly schedule.
1.Finish line hugs.
The race director, Gary Robbins, actually waits at the finish line both days to congratulate every single runner that comes across the finish line with a hug (he might even let you tousle that glorious beard, if that’s your kind of thing). Don’t be surprised either if random runners are coming up to you to hug you, high five and give you a job well done. There is just a lot of love going around at the finish line of this race!
2. Singletrack trail for miles upon miles.
The course has been designed to contain at least 85% beautiful forest singletrack.This is trail running at it’s best!
3. Running in a rainforest.
That’s right, this isn’t just any forest we are running through. This is Pacific Northwest Rain Forest which means there are giant cedar and hemlock trees, ferns filling the forest floor and moss a colour of green you wouldn’t believe. It’s vibrant, it’s humid and the air is filled with the scent of wet earth and vegetation.
4. Bouncing across wooden mountain bike bridges.
Did you know that almost all of the trails in Squamish have generously been created by the SORCA (Squamish Off Road Cycling Association) mountain biking community and do you know what mountain bikers love? Wooden bridges! Funny because trail runners love them too. The short ones curve steeply requiring you to pay extra attention to your footing and the longer ones bounce with each step which means the bridge rises up to meet your foot at each placement.
5. Salty potatoes.
This might not sound like a big deal or even that tasty. But run 23 km (14 miles), 50 km (31 miles) or 80 km (50 miles) on a warm August day and tell me that the starchy, salty, melt in your mouth potato doesn’t hit the right spot.
6. High fives everywhere.
I like to think that trail runners are a different breed of runner. They are friendlier, more excitable and more willing to have a chat on the trail. So be prepared for a lot of cheering while out on the course and get your hands prepped for a gratuitous amount of high fiving!
7. Hurts so good.
The course is tough, it’s technical and it makes you earn every single step to the finish line, but I promise you that you will love it!
8. You can never get lost.
Well ok technically you could get lost, but only if you decided to run with your eyes closed! This course has a 60 second flag rule, meaning that whether you are walking or running you will see a course marker every 60 seconds. This leaves you to focus purely on running and getting your aim on point for passing high fives, because let’s be honest nobody appreciates a weak high five.
9. The race day photographer may be a ninja.
When you have your head down, gritting your teeth to get up that hill and when you least expect it you will see a smile behind a giant lens pop up out of the ferns in front of you. This in turn will force you to try to run and a smile will form from your gritted teeth, after all you want to make sure that there is proof that you actually ran this thing. Oh and ninja’s are cool.
10. Overall buzz from the day.
The stoke surrounding this race is palpable and I am pretty sure it actually has the same effectiveness as taking at least 3 gels. It will fuel you for at least half of the race so enjoy the ride, but don’t forget to take some actual gels too, stoke doesn’t actually contain substantial calories.
There you have it. My top ten reasons why I love this race, in no particular order of course, but I think 1 & 10 might be my favourite.
Will I see you out there August 2016?
Photo Credit: Brian McCurdy Photography