Squamish 50km Ultra Trail Race August 10, 2013… where do I start… how can I describe this race, my first ultra experience. The day was brutal… to say the least. All of those gruelling months training in the trails, the dedication, the hard work, lead up to this race, the biggest race of my life. I was more excited then scared though a little nervous about a long term injury presenting itself to me through the race.
Throughout the prior training months Garry Robbins lead a couple of training runs through some of the race routes, an amazing opportunity provided to the racers to get to know the trails. I attended most of them as this was a key element to really getting a feel for race day. Feeling confident on the route I still knew not to over analyse because anything can happen out there, even if you are most prepared.
I headed up to Squamish on friday afternoon with my sister, Ashley. We had booked a room at the university condos to stay at over night in hopes of a good night sleep and a sleep in instead of a 1.5 hour morning drive to the start. The first thing we did was head to pick up my race day package… always one of my favourite endeavours, its that moment that all of your hard work training becomes a reality. For me its the race package pick up not the start line that forms the realness of the adventure I am about to part take on. The atmosphere was buzzing, I was bumping into fellow runners who I had seen training along the way, everyone was just so excited and eager. Its what I love, the atmosphere, being amongst other people who have been through and are anticipating the same things as me. The university condo apartments we stayed at was full of fellow racers and those out to cheer, everyone stoping to talk to one another in support of the next day. As the night moved along at a hot and speedy pace, food, water and stretching were consumed with great pleasure. The heat began to settle in as a concern for the long day to follow. Falling asleep had never seemed so difficult, however my amazingly supportive younger sis was there to help me relax and dig her fingers into my awaiting muscles.
When the 5:45am alarm went off it really had seemed like I slept for 15 minutes. I had decided the day before that I was going to take up the offer of an early start to the race, instead of starting at 9:00am I would cross the start line at 8:00am. Knowing that the heat for the day was going to be an issue and that there was a 10 hour cut off time I was anxious to start as early as I could. I am by no means a fast trail runner and one of the guided training runs I participated in was 45km and that had taken about 7 hours to complete so I was guessing around 8 hours for race day completion.
The crowd had begun to gather at the start line, friends and familiar faces all talking and the energy buzzing. This was it my first 50km race and I had already decided that I was crossing the finish line even if I had to crawl. A high five and a smiling, wide eyed glance to Hailey, a 10 second count down and we were off. The start to a day of unknown and adventure.
With me on my pack I carried a picture I had made into a button of my grandpa, he passed away in December of 2012 from Myeloma Cancer. I carried him with me so that he could see the things that I was seeing and because he, to me, is a symbol of never giving up and always working hard. I carry him with me on all of my adventures. As people would pass me they would ask who was on my button and every time it was a reminder to me to keep fighting.
I have decided to skip talking in detail about what happened between the start and finish, first because a lot of what took place in the middle is a blur and second is because I don’t want to spoil and release any of the fun! You don’t want to know all the ups and downs and bends. I personally prefer to do races mostly blind as so I don’t make any pre judgements or predictions. Its all about the adventure at that time. I will tell you, however that my lingering injury did reappear and caused me a lot of pain throughout the race. Pushing my mental capability to its limits. I made it through to the finish line with many tears but with the continuous thought always repeating in my head that no matter what I will cross the finish line. I made friends along the way that I will never forget, it always amazes me and is one of my favourite things about long distance events, meeting other people who are enduring the same thing as I am. Its hilarious the things that are said and talked about after 6 hours of running. To top it off I had my families support throughout the entire race, they waited for me a long 11 hours, but the time didn’t matter it was a completion. My 8 hour prediction had been shattered but because I have to push through injuries and walls that hit me out there I have immensely strong mental abilities. Determination is my best friend… cheesy it may seem but accomplish what I set out to do no matter what.
There is nothing more that I could have asked for from this race. It was extremely well put together in every way. From guided training runs throughout the prior months to the hug I received at the finish line from the director Gary Robbins, everything about this race was incredible. The course itself is a gruelling beast. It will eat you up, chew you to bits and spit you out. Climbs and decants and then more climbs just when you think your nearing the end or have reached the bottom of the mountain you start to climb again. I left my heart and soul out in those trails on this day. Squamish is one of my favourite places and it felt so incredible to have combated against those trails that I love so much to complete my first ultra 50km race. Squamish 50km is the race that I compare all other races to… I still have yet to find something that even comes close.