This is my fourth running of the Squamish 50k race, third as part of the Squamish 50/50. The 2017 Squamish 50k went much better than the previous year and I managed to knock close to 3 hours off my time. In 2018 I’ll be looking to go even faster and bring my time down to around 7 hours. That will be difficult having run the 50-mile race the day before, but I’m going to be much fitter this year and will have been on a dedicated training plan since the beginning of January, something I have not done before.
Here are the deets from the Squamish 50 website:
The Squamish 50 – 50 km is a very challenging course as evidenced by the 11.5-hour cut off time. There’s not a lot of flat in this course BUT we have at least put those flatter sections at the very beginning and the very end, so you’ll be properly warmed up before you get into the guts of the course. This is a point to point race with no loops.
Our race start is a destination all by itself. Alice Lake Provincial Park offers on-site camping, bathroom facilities and swimming in Alice Lake, which is flanked by mountains on all sides. A clear sight line back across the lake shows off Mount Garibaldi, the dominant peak in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
Starting on Alice Lake beach we will skirt the parking area before heading off to the Four Lakes Trail system. You will first run past Stump Lake and then Fawn Lake before popping out onto the Bob Macintosh Trail. Turning left we head towards Dead End Loop, stay left on Dead End Loop to tackle your first sizeable climb up Made In The Shade to gain Ed’s Bypass. Drop back down to Rob’s Corners and enjoy the winding flowy slight downhill grade.
Your first aid station will be located in between Rob’s and Cliff’s Corners. As a 50 km runner you’ll be turning left onto the Northside Connector. Staying right at the split in the FSR proceed approximately 1 km further until you can pick up a trail on your left named Plastic Scheisse. This trail is located just a few hundred meters after you cross over a prominent water flow in the FSR.
Welcome to your favourite part of the day! Plastic Scheisse climbs to Galactic Scheisse and tops out at over 3300 feet. Given that your starting line is approximately 600 feet and you’ve only gained a minimal total amount up until this point in time you should ensure you’ve grabbed ample supplies from your last aid station. The trail climbs at a steady grade that is indeed runnable by those challenging near the front. The total gain is over 2500 feet and it plays out over approximately 4 km of continued ascent. The great part about this climb, besides the challenge, is that it presents the most stunning views of the entire course, so it’s well worth your efforts! Multiple clear views are presented to break up your slog.
Nearing the top there are a few minor water crossings…NOW WITH BRAND NEW BRIDGES ACROSS THEM! Given that it’ll be August you may end up going for a quick dip to cool back down. There is a slight reprieve once you top out but shortly thereafter you are thrust into an equivalent descent. Trails you’ll run include Upper Powersmart, IMBA Smart, Fred, and Word Of Mouth. The trails will start off as average technical and proceed into greater technicality as your legs begin to bare more fatigue. You’re welcome!
As you exit Fred you’ll arrive at your second aid station of the day. Given that this is relatively close to Quest University this aid station will only be stocked with water, coke and gel.
Once you exit Word Of Mouth you’ll be at the approximate half way point of Quest University. A full aid station, full facilities and your drop bag awaits.
Once you depart Quest it’s back to the climbing again. This time via Garibaldi, to The Climb Trail. Early in The Climb Trail you’ll pass a beautiful little waterfall and about a mile further along you’ll start to get some more open views back down valley towards Quest and across to The Tantalus Mountain Range. You are climbing on singletrack until crossing over The Northside Connector before linking up with the newly completed Upper Climb Trail. Climbing, climbing, climbing you’ll top out as you find A.M. or the non politically correct name of Angry Midget. A.M. is a wonderful fall line running trail and though you’re legs might be screaming you’ll likely be doing the same out loud as you enjoy every step!
At the bottom of A.M. cut left onto Ring Creek and follow it for a few hundred meters until you can cross over the Garibaldi FSR. You will access another aid station here. Once across the gravel road you’ll drop back onto singletrack. This will wind you down to a river crossing while using the ‘Darwin’s Bridge’. A short but steep climb awaits you on the other side and you’ll be taking your first right onto STP. From here to the finish you’ll be following the same course as every other distance.
You get to drop down STP, climb back up on Bonsai, drop back down on Somewhere Over There, and then hit your final aid station of the day at the entrance to The Far Side. Turn onto Fartherside and then S&M Connector. Enjoy this open slightly graded descent but don’t worry, you’re not done with your climbing just yet!
Crossing under the powerlines you take a left onto Endo but only briefly before you turn right onto Seven Stitches as you slowly climb up to Pipe Trail. From Pipe Trail you are closing in on your final climb of the day, up Mountain Of Phlegm. Don’t fuss over the name though, we’ve saved the best views for last! From the top of Mountain Of Phlegm, which is a short but steep climb, it’s ‘almost’ all downhill to your finish line.
Take Summer’s Eve into The Smoke Bluffs, blaze past the rock climbers and boulderers until you end up in the parking lot down below. It’s time to get those legs to turn over on some flat stuff finally, and you’re only a few kilometres from celebrating your achievement in our beer gardens!
Along the water, through Rose’s Garden, under the highway and down to Pavilion Park where you can finally lay down and call it a day!
In case you’ve made it this far and haven’t deduced this just yet… it’s NOT an easy course, but if you train hard you’ll be one of those receiving a finisher’s medal in August. Now stop reading this and get out there and RUN!
Image by Brian McCurdy Photography