After directing 45 races, Gary Robbins decided to see what all the fuss was about, and toed the line at his own Buckin’ Hell 30K race yesterday. The event offers 30K, 50K, two-person 50K relay, and a kids’ 1K race options. The 30K gains 1,700 metres, while the 50K gains almost 2,500 metres of elevation on the notorious North Vancouver trail system. After battling a sacral stress fracture since December 2018, Robbins was itching to race, and scratched hard, breaking the 30K course record by just over a minute.
“Gary blames me!” Linda Barton-Robbins jokes, explaining how it all unfolded. While Robbins was preparing for the race in town, Barton-Robbins suggested over the phone that he run their WAM 25K race in September. After some marital miscommunication, Robbins interpreted that as a go-ahead to race Buckin’ Hell 30K. By the time Barton-Robbins realized what her husband was going to do, it was too late.
“It was pretty special for Gary to run one of his own races as his first race post-injury. He’s always wanted to line up at one of his races, but this was his first chance,” says Barton-Robbins. Considering the 30K is mostly uphill, Robbins thought it was a good race for his hip–putting months of cycling and cross training to the test.
“I’ve pulled all the course markings, so you all have to follow me,” Robbins announced just a few minutes before the start. With his #666 bib, Robbins took the lead through the first aid station, came through in second at the next aid station, and went back into first through the final aid station and onto the finish. There, he collapsed covered in sweat and full of severe cramping. Robbins suffering at one of his own races may have been somewhat therapeutic for other finishers to witness.
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A sweet old lady asked Mom what event was happening today and Mom told her, "Buckin Hell." "F**kin Hell," I corrected her. Neither Mom nor the lady heard me because they both asked, "What??" So I repeated myself. Then Mom said, "No! Buckin Hell, with a 'B'!" I turned to the lady and said, "It's called F**kin Hell." Quickly Mom explained that it's named after the Old Buck trail and the lady said, "Oh" and laughed and Mom seemed embarrassed. I was going to run the Buckin Heck kids' race, but at the very last second said I wasn't ready and I sat down instead. I did some coloring and then went to look for crabs with our friend Dianna and played on the playground (it was not my favorite playground because it's definitely for bigger kids). Dad had surprised everyone by racing one of his own races for the first time. I was there for him at the finish line. He tried to give me a hug, but he was all wet. I gave him his medal which was a thrill for both of us. Shortly after, I said to Mom, "I'm ready to race now." So three hours after the actual kids' race, Mom and I ran my own race. I won and took Dad's medal as my own. I played and played after that. Looked for crabs again with Kate. Fell in the water. Changed my shirt. Played with Kaffy. Gave her, Mom and Angela a show back at the beach. I climbed up and down a rock in the water. "Ladies and gentlemen! This show will be so awesome!" That was the show. They loved it. I had to change my shirt again. I played more. Collected shells. Then told Mom I wanted to go home. Congratulations to all the runners out there today! 🏅
Robbins forgot electrolytes, which likely contributed to the cramping. At the last aid station, he frantically attempted to fix the situation, filling his bottle with cola, Heed, and then water. With a side of pickles, he raced to the finish with a bizarre concoction of liquids. It wasn’t Robbins’ first day on the trails of course, but “He was basically a ‘noob’ again,” explains Barton-Robbins.
Reed Robbins decided to DNS the official 1K kids race, but the event was still an overall success. Josh Vander Wiele and Guy Polden were just three minutes behind Robbins, in three hours flat. Andrea Lee, Danielle O’Neill, and Katherine Short took the women’s podium, all racing far under four hours.
In the 50K, 18-year old Alexandre Campbell also broke the course record, with streams of emotions at the finish line. Glenn Jasechko and Graeme Wilson took second and third in the men’s race. Catrin Jones won her first race back post-Comrades Marathon. Amber Johnson and Maude Cyr took second and third in the women’s race. Unfortunately, local hero Julie Rudd missed the cutoff on the long technical downhill from Mount Seymour.