This weekend, on Saturday, August 17 and Sunday, August 18 is the eighth Squamish 50-mile, 50K, 50/50, and 23K races in Squamish, BC. The town is 45 minutes north of Vancouver, and known for some of the best trails in the country. Whether you’re racing, volunteering, cheering, or crewing, the event will undoubtedly live up to its claim as “an unforgettable mountain running experience in The Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada.”
So far, the weekend weather looks ideal. Saturday calls for a high of 22 degrees C with a low of 15 with 30 percent chance of precipitation. Sunday calls for a high of 24 degrees C and a low of 13 with a mix of sun and cloud. But mountain town weather is often unpredictable, so make sure you’re prepared for all kinds of weather.
The sold-out races are tough, but attract runners of all abilities. The 50-mile race provides five UTMB points upon finishing, as well as prize money for the top-three female and male runners.
Courtney Dauwalter won the 50-mile in 2018 after being chased by Canada’s Darbykai Standrick and Kathryn Drew, who took second and third. Dauwalter (8:22:15) and Dakota Jones (7:31:09) currently hold the 50-mile course records.
The 50-mile race gains 3,350 metres over 80K, with the biggest single climb ascending 760 metres. Runners must have a headlamp for the 5:30 a.m. start line on Saturday morning at Pavilion Park on Cleveland Ave. The cutoff is 10:30 p.m., giving runners 17 hours to make it back to the finish line at Pavilion Park.
In 2014, Ellie Greenwood (5:20:39) and Adam Campbell (4:55:08) set the 50K course records, and they have yet to be broken.
The 50K race may not have prize money, but it still provides two UTMB points and a Gary Robbins hug at the finish line. The tough and competitive point-to-point course gains 2,500 metres and descends 2,750 metres. It starts Sunday, August 18 at 6:15 a.m. at Black Bear Road at the entrance to Alice Lake Provincial Park. Runners have 11.5 hours to finish the race at Pavilion Park.
Since 2014, race directors Geoff Langford and Robbins decided to make a separate event for runners competing in both the 50-mile and the 50K distances. The 50/50 race covers 130K of gnarly trails over two days. Cutoffs remain the same for those racing both distances.
In 2018, local bullet Brendan Hunt set a new course record in the 23K distance, running in 1:43:49. Canadian legend Anne-Marie Madden still holds the record she set in 2017 in 1:55:33.
It may sound short in comparison to the other distances, but the 23K race can feel like a 50K. It is highly recommended that those racing the 23K distance be experienced trail runners. The race gains 1,000 metres, with 1,200 metres of elevation loss. It begins Sunday, August 18 at 8 a.m. at Quest University, finishing at Pavilion Park.
Rumour has it that four-year-old Reed Robbins is expected to make an appearance at the kid’s race this year. He has had a rough start to his race season after his DNS at the Buckin’ Hell race last month. Depending on age, athletes can run distances ranging from 500 to 1,500 metres. The kid’s run is Saturday, August 17 at 12 noon at the Pavilion Park finish line area.
Pacers and poles are not allowed for any of the distances, but if you’re crewing a loved one (or a complete stranger) this weekend, make sure you know where to be and when. Without reading the rules for your athlete, you may risk them being disqualified. Crews are allowed at aid stations 1, 2, 5, and 7.
How to watch
If you’re not in Squamish this weekend, tune into the Squamish 50 Instagram feed, Twitter, and the race’s live streaming here. You can also follow Canadian Trail Running’s Twitter feed (@CanTrailRunnning) for updates during the race.