Introducing the all new Squamish 50 – A Q&A with Race Co-Director Gary Robbins

Trainharder recently interviewed Race C0-Director Gary Robbins about the all new Squamish 50, the latest incarnation of the classic Stormy Trail Race.

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TH – Why was Stormy cancelled last year?

GR – Unfortunately Stormy was cancelled last year due to a timing issue in the handing over of the race from one director to another.

TH – Why were you and Geoff interested in resurrecting this race and what started the whole thing?

GR – Resurrecting a 50mile race in Squamish was the culmination of a long standing vision that I had for recreating an updated version of a trail ultra. Back when the race shifted from 64km to 50miles I was one of the biggest local proponents of the idea.

TH – Can you talk about some of the highlights of the new course and why you think it will be a hit with runners?

GR – People trail run, and travel to trail races, to experience the beauty of that specific area. I personally felt that previous running races in Squamish failed to capitalize on what I consider to be our founding principle. As such we’ve moved the start of the event to The Squamish Spit, right on the Pacific Ocean. Quite simply, this is the premiere panoramic 360 degree vantage point in all of town, and that’s just the very beginning.

The first 10km will have people running at sea level while staring at the sunrise over the surrounding peaks. Mount Garibaldi, BC’s best know volcano at almost 9000 feet, will be the focal point for much of this stretch, often with completely unobstructed views.

From here we throw people into the guts of the course, first ascending DeBeck’s Hill via singletrack. Again views of The Goat Range and Sky Pilot are presented on the run/slog up to almost 1500 feet. A ‘race directors special’ steep technical descent follows as we keep runners on singletrack and run them past some of our favorite lakes in the area.

Our largest climb of the race comes following our half way detour around the Quest University lands. Again stellar views across The Tantalus Range are down Howe Sound are paramount. Runners will top out at over 2100 feet on our largest climb, and we’re certain they’ll be cursing us for all the right reasons. We have thrown in some of the absolute nicest and most fun singletrack trails of the entire race immediately following this high point, so people will surely feel aptly rewarded for their efforts.

More west coast rainforest singletrack awaits over the final portions of our course which include local staples like Powerhouse Plunge and Father Side.

We decided to finish The Squamish50 in the heart of downtown Squamish, again adding to the local flair and atmosphere that surrounds this outdoor haven. The most iconic peak in Western Canada, The Squamish Chief towers overhead in congratulations to all who make the finish line.

TH – What’s the rationale for changing the distance to 50 miles and removing the 100 miler?

GR – We did not change the distance to 50miles, as that had been in place for numerous years. The foiled plans for a 2011 Stormy also involved the removal of the 100mile distance. We would love to build this event back up to a 50 and 100mile race but feel we need to establish the 50 as a premiere event to successfully bridge that gap. The largest attendance the 100 ever saw was around 30 runners and currently we don’t believe that added stress and strain to our volunteers is warranted.

The 21km distance however, is new, and covers the final portions of our new 50mile course.

TH – What do you say to runners who love running up Nine Mile Hill but now won’t get the opportunity?

GR – Geoff and I are trying to present the best terrain Squamish has to offer. I know there are many who may not initially agree with our decision to remove Nine Mile Hill, but as one Squamish local who recently reviewed our course said “people are going to be begging for you to bring back nine mile”. What he meant by this was that the race is not easier because we removed that climb, it is in all likelihood more difficult as we’ve managed to up the ascent and descent numbers to almost 10,000 feet.

Having said this we are here to provide a race course that people will want to make a part of their annual calendar. If feedback dictated a preference towards the return of Nine Mile we would certainly entertain that idea going forward. Our aim is to simply provide the absolute best race experience possible, from start to finish.

TH – Any pre or post-race activities planned?

Currently we are looking to arrange a social gathering of dinner with a complimentary beverage the night before the race, and will offer a fully catered BBQ finish line experience. Once the sun sets we will facilitate after hours celebratory drinks for all interested and still awake.

Editor’s Note – the inaugural Squamish 50 takes place August 11th. For more information visit www.squamish50.com.

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