The small-town Squamish 50 trail race had a rock star finisher from nearby Washington on Aug. 21.
Ben Gibbard, the lead singer and founder of the American alternative rock band Death Cab for Cutie, traded in his microphone for a pair of trail shoes and raced 23K.
The front man for the indie rock band took up running in 2008 and ran his first marathon in 2011. These days, Gibbard can often be seen on the U.S. trail running scene, and more rarely, on the Canadian scene. The 40-year-old finished the 23K portion of the Squamish 50 weekend in 3:22:39.
The rock star used the Squamish, B.C. race as a tuneup for the following weekend as he completed his first-ever 100-miler in Easton, Wash. Gibbard, with the guidance of Canadian trail runner Gary Robbins, the Squamish 50 race director, finished the Cascade Crest in 25:18:28.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; you’re my favorite ultrarunner, Gary,” Gibbard said of his friend after the Cascade Crest. “You inspire the hell outta me and I’m so grateful for your guidance and company out there yesterday.”
At the Aug. 21 race, Robbins gave Gibbard a hug as he crossed the finish line. Gibbard did the race alongside his partner Rachel Demy (bib 171) and fellow trail runner Gretchen Walla. He finished in 109th out of 237 participants and averaged 8:48 per kilometre.
Squamish 50 is one of British Columbia’s toughest trail races and takes place about halfway between Whistler and Vancouver. Squamish is five hours north of Gibbard’s hometown of Bremerton, Wash.
Apologies for all the running photos right now but it’s summer and running is best enjoyed with sunshine. #tbt to a few weeks ago, at the most fun race I’ve ever run. 12 minutes slower than last year but I finished injury-free and with two of my favorite people. Running with friends is a nice distraction from the pain. Thanks for the photo, @brianmccurdyphotography. // Squamish, BC #trailrunning #sq50 #britishcolumbia
According to UltraSignup.com, Gibbard has run five trail races in 2016, four of which were in the Pacific Northwest. In 2015, he completed the 50-miler at Squamish 50. According to Trail Runner Magazine, Gibbard was overweight from a habit of drinking on tour before he took up running.
Gibbard began Death Cab for Cutie as a solo project based in Bellingham, Wash. and the group released its first album together in 1998. The band has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards including Best Rock Song and Best Alternative Album. Death Cab for Cutie’s most recent album was released in 2015 and is entitled Kintsugi. Gibbard, in addition to being lead vocals, plays piano and guitar.
The turnaround from ultrarunning to touring is a short one as Gibbard and the two other members of the band are slated to play seven shows in September. The last of the seven will be in Toronto on Sept. 18.