June 22nd was the last of the orientation runs for the Squamish 50. I knew I wanted/had to run the 47km for peace of mind. I woke up that morning tired, unsure of being able to run the full distance. I actually thought to myself I would cop out and probably choose the 37km halfway through, as there is a point in the run where the 47 and 37 runners split. Anyway, I had my good running friends Adam and Sarah(both wanting to run the 37km) with me, so with their combined stoke we walked and laughed our way to Escape Route, the start of the run. I started off nice and easy, I wanted this to be a long slow run for endurance training. Adam took off like a shot and within after about 3km I didn’t see him anymore. Sarah and I yo-yo’d a bit but were generally always in eyesight of each other. I knew I wanted to keep it really slow and forced myself to take it easy.
I arrived at the 18km aid station to find Sarah fueling up on coke, cookies and other ultra type foods that one only eats during an ultra (Scott Jurek dies a little inside at reading this). Adam was already gone as Sarah told me that they were goth going for the 37 distance. I wasn’t too excited for the additional 10km loop but the thought of getting to hit the aid station after the loop was pretty enticing and when asked what distance I was doing, they keep track of all runners for safety reasons, I immediately said 47km. I chugged a bit of coke, had a few salty chips and a Hammer Bar and then told Sarah I was off. However during the time spent at the aid station Sarah succumbed to a bit of peer pressure from other runners at the station and she was shamed into running the 47km. So off we went.Not going to lie, this worked to my advantage as it was nice to have company on that extra 10km.
I think it may have been a mix of the coke, the calories from the hammer bar and just starting to get my second wind but i was starting to feel good again. The 10km loop was beautiful, with one steep uphill section and the rest classic flowy squamish bike trail. Only the last few km’s were on logging road and I forced myself to run until I seen the aid station. Most times on logging road I lose my motivation immediately and my pace slows to a walk, but not this time. Just keep moving until you see the tent.
What a beautiful sight the aid station was for a second time at km 28. We refueled then off we went for the big climb of the run, the scheisse. Infamous for its mellow but unrelenting uphill gradient, it ends up being a mix of power hiking and running when you can, unless you are fortunate and strong enough to be up front with more elite runners. Today I was happy with my front-mid pack positioning.
The climb went fairly quickly and before we knew it we were on the technical descent trail that would take us back to Quest University. This is one of the best parts of the race in my opinion and made for some fun quick running. With varying ups and downs it makes for a fun rambly descent. Sarah and I were running together now, clocking down the km’s and with only around 8km to go we were feeling surprisingly good.
The rest was a blur of chit chat, laughing and road running on the last 3km’s. We pulled into Escape route with a strong sprint to the finish. Sarah checked her GPS watch and we came in just over 6 ½ hours. Even with a mellow pace and lingering at the aid stations we still finished well over an hour before our time from last year. We are getting stronger and faster! Glad I decided to run the 47km that day. It’s runs like these that boost confidence, push you past your comfort zone and show you what you can do.