Gary Robbins, one of Canada’s favourite trail runners and a hopeful to become one of the few Barkley Marathons finishers, completed a 167K run over the weekend in 37 hours and 29 minutes. The effort, which he dubbed ‘The Big Chill’, included nearly 9,000m of elevation gain and ran around his home of Chilliwack, B.C.
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Nothing to it, but to do it. 10pm start time tonight for my 105 mile run in my backyard mountain range here in Chilliwack. Starting to get nervous, but mostly just crazy excited. My initial splits have me at 32.5 hours. There are multiple mountain passes where running just won't be possible, so I think anything under 32.5 would be a stretch at this point. I have a great team and am just really looking forward to spending a day and a half in some of the most beautiful terrain BC has to offer. In November of 2019 I saw one of Canada's top foot experts for a degenerative foot issue I'd been fighting through for 6 straight years, since the @hurthawaii 100 miler in 2014. My foot issue was causing a biomechanical breakdown that had lead to back to back to back stress fractures on my left side. Femur in 2018 + sacrum 2018/19 + iliac bone 2019. His assessment was brief & blunt, essentially saying I was old, there was nothing that could be done about it, and it was time to move on from ultra running. I sourced my own solution, through a combination of a dedicated hip & core strengthing program (thanks to @peak_endurance_wanaka) and figuring out that essentially taping my toes together was enough to help correct the foot splay that was the root cause of it all. My foot had expanded from its normal D width to a EE width and it was a constant fight to attempt to prevent my foot from grabbing at the ground with each foot strike for purchase, rather than just running with a natural stride. With all of that said, my run this weekend is a celebration of movement and continuing to be able to do what I love the most, plain and simple. My time is irrelevant and I'm gonna go ahead and enjoy every damn step of it from start to finish out there 🤘 📷 @jpelletier #TBC #TheBigChill #BC100
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This run was in celebration of his return to healthy running after two years of serious injury. Robbins shared ahead of his run, “In November of 2019 I saw one of Canada’s top foot experts for a degenerative foot issue I’d been fighting through for six straight years, since the Hurt Hawaii 100-miler in 2014. My foot issue was causing a biomechanical breakdown that had lead to back-to-back-to-back stress fractures on my left side – my femur in 2018, my sacrum 2018 and ’19, and my iliac bone in 2019. His assessment was brief and blunt, essentially saying I was old, there was nothing that could be done about it and it was time to move on from ultrarunning.”
Robbins certainly didn’t move on. He found that taping a couple of toes together helped; so did dedicating time to developing a hip and core routine that would keep him running smoothly and injury-free. Two years later, he celebrated with his 105-mile effort.
He estimated he’d finish in under 32 hours, and came in at 37:29. But he wrote that it wasn’t really about the time. “I have a great team and am just really looking forward to spending a day and a half in some of the most beautiful terrain B.C. has to offer.” It’s good that it wasn’t totally about the time, because due to some watch-charging issues, he’s not sure of the accuracy of his Strava file. According to the app, it stopped tracking his GPS location around Kilometre 130 – but he assures trail runners everywhere that he got the whole thing done.
Up next for Robbins is a long sleep, and then he’ll tackle the rest of his running season. Robbins is happy to be back on the trails and the community is glad to see him there as well.