Friday, August 24, 2012


After the Stormy

Here’s a little pearl for anyone researching a trail run. If the description of the course reminds you of reading Anna Karenina ;”Alexandrovna Oblonskaya , the second cousin of the wife of Serius Ivanovich Keznyshev, who is the brother in law of the niece named Ekaterina Alexandrovna Shcherbatskaya”…(confused yet?) and the paths you will follow have names like “Tracks From Hell”, “Entrails”, and “Powerhouse Plunge”, and the creator of the event is the HURT 100 course record holder- then you should be prepared for one very wild ride!
 
Good luck trying to catch them guys, most of you just cannot.
So starts the adventure of the Arc’ Teryx Squamish 50mile run- the creative reinvention of the Stormy run in Squamish , BC. When Linda Barton suggested I come run Squamish as a good training run before the Run Rabbit Run, I mistakenly had the impression that it would be: 1. smooth single track winding around the water, and 2. a nice beer garden at the finish
1.WRONG, 2. RIGHT!
 
The run starts in town right on the water – so you are looking at fishing boats with The Chief loomin’ large in the background. It did not take me long to realize that anything 1mile from where I was looking , was straight UP. Then Linda says “oh, you should probably add about an hour to your time from whatever you do at White River”- more like 2 hours, but I’m glad I had a reality check before I started so I knew to pace myself at the beginning. Not an easy task because Gary said “go” and people took off- fast. I kept thinking that Canadians were just really way faster than Americans- which admittedly quite a few of them are, but what it took me awhile to realize is a lot of the runners were participating in a relay! A ha! Note to self, let them go, it’s a long day.

The rolling single track along the river, in the cool morning was a great way to warm things up before you were abruptly heading straight up. The first of many climbs for the day. I had given up on trying to understand the course description because there were so many “go left first time, left second time, right this time, left if it’s 2o’clock, straight if your name ends in S kind of descriptions”. One really did not have to have prior knowledge because the course, as confusing as it was on paper, was super easy to follow because the course markings were perfect.

Within the first 13miles of the run we had encountered steep scree climbs followed by steep loose dirt descents complete with slatted wooden bridges, rocks, roots, drop offs that had me clinging to a tree, peering over the edge, wondering how the hell am I suppose to go down THAT? And of course views…this course is beautiful, but I would not recommend soaking in any of the glaciated peaks, water, or territorial views without firmly stopping for a good 20seconds to make sure another root is not there to grab your ankle.

After the halfway mark there is a section that is one of those left,left,straight areas. You never really repeated loops, but just found yourself at the same decision point. The water stop where you would come 3 times would be the only less than perfect event of the day. The awesome , helpful volunteer who was helping fill my bladder said I would be right back there in 4k. This was welcome news because we were doing a lot of going  up on a sunny road, and I did not relish the idea of carrying a heavy pack, so I just took about 20ounces. Well, I must have been looking fresh, because I think he mistook me for a 21k runner who would be back in 4k.  I actually had quite a bit further to go, and a visit back at the halfway now 36mile mark before I would see him again. An hour into what I thought was a 4k loop , I was feeling pretty demoralized at how incredibly slow I must be moving and trying to figure out the kilometer –mile conversion , wondering just how bad can my math get! My water ran out, but it was not that big of a deal because in about 15minutes I was back at the fully supplied aid station, and grateful that I had covered a lot more distance than I thought. So back to fateful water stop, through the 4k loop that now felt easy, back to the water stop and panicking at how late in the day it was.

Before I had talked to Linda, I had thought the run would take me 9-10 hours. So Corinne and our dog Ivy were waiting at the finish line- and being the awesome , reliable crew, they got there 2 hours ahead of time. This meant they were waiting from 1:00 . My watch at this point was saying something like 3:00. I had felt great all day, ran really well, and still had something in me for a push to the finish. So I did something that I very rarely do, I ran hard for the last 10 miles. Usually, I slow down and crawl up inclines because I perceive myself to be too tired to move any faster. What I learned is , that the slow down at the end is hugely mental. With the self inflicted pressure of not wanting them to wait too much longer, and definitely not wanting Corinne to worry, I kept running- actually running- and another rare thing happened. I passed people in the last 10 miles! The final stretch of single track was the anticipated smooth, wide , shadey trail I had imagined, with a perfectly gentle downhill grade. Apparently , Gary did not want that section to be there because he thought we would be bored! I guarantee you there is nothing about this run that will bore you- there is a bit of something for everyone, but definitely a course for someone who likes technical and hills- I’m pretty sure I was in a minority at crossing the finish line sans blood!

After a good days work
Speaking of finish line- this is where the festivities really picked up. You were given a puzzle piece to use as a token at any one of the food vendors set up at the Farmers’ Market (great idea, no waste), and the generous sponsors had donated a lot of schwag for prizes. Instead of doing the routine of pulling numbers from a hat, Gary made it more like a game show where people had to earn their gift by doing things like grabbing a stranger and sprinting to the beer garden fence and back, or my particular favorite , a capella kareokee. Gary assigned the artist- Jon Bon Jovi! The woman stood frozen for a minute , and you could see her brain saying Jon a Bon a what? When suddenly she burst out in my favorite Def Leppard tune. When a young woman in a skort, who just ran 50 knarley miles, jumps up on stage and starts bumpin-grindin to “Pour Some Sugar on Me” no one in the audience is complaining.

There are so many aspects to this run that I could just gush about, but bottom line is:  this is a really well thought out , organized, welcoming, challenging, Fun event. When I go next year, I plan on taking more time off from work because once you are in Squamish / Whistler area there is so much to do, it’s really hard to leave!
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