The Squamish Oceanfront will serve as the start line for the inaugural Arc’teryx Squamish 50 on Saturday (Aug. 11).
The 50-mile trail race will kick off at 6:15 a.m. with 350 runners embarking on the most epic long distance race in town since the departure of the STORMY (Squamish Test of Running Metal – Yeah!).
“We couldn’t be more excited,” said race director Gary Robbins. “We set out to create the best ultra running experience in Squamish and I think just based on the trail system development in town that things have changed so significantly for the better in the 11 years since the STORMY originated.”
The Squamish 50 has some aspects that will be familiar to those who took part in the STORMY, but Robbins said it should be an improvement to the runners experience.
“The changes we’ve made have been received incredibly well across the board and anyone who has seen what we’re presenting is really excited about getting up there and taking on this race,” he said.
Robbins noted that STORMY was in the range of about 100 participants in its peak years and that he and fellow race director Geoff Langford set out a goal to double that total. The 21-kilometre race that accompanies the 50-mile ultra sold out early and all 200 spots in the 50-miler were gobbled up shortly thereafter. The relay portion is also close to selling out and the 350 on the starting line is exactly what Robbins wanted.
“To have 350 runners on the starting line is beyond anything we could have envisioned,” he said.
Top distance runners have taken notice as Jason Schlard, the 50-mile U.S. champion and competitive 50-mile runner Dakota Jones have both signed on. For the women, North Vancouver’s Ellie Greenwood, one of the best female trail runners in the world, has also signed up. Robbins added that Amy Sproston from Portland, Ore., this year’s 100-kilometre world champion, is also in the field. Local runner Jason Loutitt, who earlier this year won the Salomon Five Peaks trail run at Alice Lake, has also signed up.
Robbins said the singletrack in the race should help to make it a memorable experience for all runners.
“I’ve done 50-mile races all across North America and I’ve always been shocked at the lack of singletrack in a lot of these races,” he said. “Eighty per cent of our course is singletrack and just the diversity in the course is amazing. We have non-technical trails to super technical trails like at Alice Lake. When I designed this course, I wanted to bring all of these great characteristics of Squamish trail running into one race and really showcase the varying levels of terrain we have to work with here.”
It’s difficult to predict when the first 50-miler will cross the finish line but Robbins estimated around seven hours, plus or minus 15 minutes on each side. Fifty-mile and relay teams will begin at 6:15 a.m. at the Squamish Oceanfront, with 21 km runners starting at 11 a.m. at Quest University.
The finish line at Squamish Junction Park will feature live music, a beer garden and will be adjacent to the Squamish Farmers’ Market.
“We want to create a festival atmosphere,” Robbins said.
The race is still looking for volunteers and those interested or those who want more information on the event are urged to visit www.squamish50.com.