8.13.2013

Squamish 50k: Pros & Cons

Last weekend I took a quick trip up to BC to run the Squamish 50 with Amber (it was her first Ultra and she did such a great job). I flew in on Thursday evening, spent Friday in Vancouver (more on that later) and drove up to Squamish on Friday evening (more on THAT later too!)

Friday was the packet pickup, then the race started at 9 on Saturday and was a point to point from Alice Lake to downtown Squamish. This was the first year they had a 50k and 23k distance. The other years they had only had a 50 miler. This year there were all three, each starting from a different place! There were many ups and many downs in this race, pun intended. So, without further ado, here they are!

PROS:

- The volunteers. They were awesome. I actually got to the start about an hour and a half early and sat and talked to one volunteer for a long time. Her daughter was running and we had a great time chatting and I even looked out for her daughter on the course, and then saw her and her daughter again at both the halfway point and the end! It's things like that which really make a great race!

- The scenery. What a great place to run! The race director did a great job making the route. It was a great mix of forest and fields, rocks and road, single track and fire road, with views to die for at every turn!

squamish 50
View from (almost) the top.
 
 - The challenge. If you want a challenge, this is a good race to try. Not only was there a lot of uphill, but there was an equally challenging amount of downhill (actually, there was a net downhill in this race).

- The race director. He was shaking hands, high-fiving and hugging everyone as they came across the finish line. That's why I love smaller races; everyone is just one big happy family.

- The fresh fruit. There was a lot of watermelon at this race and I loved it!

- The other runners. As always, it was great to run and chat with the other runners on the course and I made a lot of friends out there! It was great to see them at the finish and to celebrate our success together! 

CONS:

- The aid stations. This was Amber's first Ultra and before the race I was giggling about the amount of food she was going to carry with her. However, she had the right idea! Aside from the aforementioned watermelon, the aid stations were lacking. Some of them had potatoes, but no salt, and others only had candy. One even was rationing water! I know it's hard to get supplies to some of the more remote areas, but I really needed some real food! And salt! I don't really love the candy/chips options though, so this is a biased review. The other thing was that the drinks were not cold, and it got pretty hot at some points. I would have paid an extra $1 (or $5) to have ice in my drinking water!

- The packet pickup. Most people were really nice but it was a little disjointed. For instance, when I asked where I could park my car (there was a lot near the finish where you park and take the bus to the start but I was going to get a ride) they weren't sure and then they finally decided that I could park it at the same place as the people who were taking the bus. However, when I asked where it was, they told me to "Google it". When I said that I didn't have service in Canada, they told me to go find a place with WiFi. Um...thanks? A map would be nice.

- There also were no maps of the course at the expo. You could get one online but the 8 x 11 was pretty small. It would have been nice to have a double sized one for friends and family to have for spectating. However, on the flip side, when the map was blown up to a readable size, it was a mighty nice map!

- The post race food. This was probably hard to control, but with your race bib you got a post race meal. What this consisted of was a choice of meals from a bunch of local food trucks. However, the first place I went to was out of food. The next place I went to was a crepe place and it was out of most savory food. Then when I ordered one, he said that it was a $7 crepe, and our bib only got us $5 worth of food. What? My runner addled mind could not comprehend. Plus I didn't have any cash with me! Was I supposed to run with it so I could pay the difference for my post race food cost?

- Speaking of post race, there was a beer garden where you could get a beer with the drink ticket that you received at the packet pickup. Well, nobody ever told me about a drink ticket at the expo, nor did they give me one. I really could have used a cold beer! 

Have you ever been to BC? Have you ever run a race in a different country? What were your pros and cons? 

9 comments:

  1. What gorgeous scenery! You are becoming a pro at the ultras. Another one down already- so impressive!

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  2. I think this is a really good sum up of the race! Despite ALL the food I had with me I also felt the aid stations were lacking. I also really needed potatoes and didn't get those in me until the 32 km aid station. And cold water would have been super amazing on such a hot day!

    By the time I finished I didn't really have an appetite for anything and didn't have to spend too much time sitting around at the finish line but my mom filled me in on what happened with you trying to get post race food - that sucks!!

    Overall though it was a wonderful first ultra experience for me. The ultra/trail running community is just so darn incredible!

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  3. Those cons would have seriously pissed me off! Organization is very important.

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  4. I did a stair climb race ,90 floors up the Hancock building in Chicago. I vowed I would never do that race again because the clothing and personal item pick-up was an hour wait. I cheated and cut the line, I know, I'm bad LOL.

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  5. ack! no beer!!! course sounds awesome and scenery looks amazing...but maybe you should check out some Colorado races...hint - hint!

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  6. The other runners are always a pro with trail races. They really said google it? Thanks for the help!

    I've never run a race in a different country but would love to.

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  7. I think I probably could've gotten over some of the post-race mishaps, but the lacking aid stations? That's a big no-no. The last thing a race wants is bad press, because runners are dehydrated and fainting on the course. Seems like race organization 101 to me, but I'm just some little schmo who has run a race or two. =) Glad to hear it was a challenging and beautiful race - awesome!

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  8. Wow, the aid station thing would have bugged me. I couldn't believe it when Amber said they were rationing water in her post. That is just plain scary as itw as so hot that day. Thumbs down on that. But i am glad there were some great pros to offset some of the cons!

    I have been to BC several times. It is one of my favorite areas to visit. I love love love Vancouver, the area where Amber got married (sunshine coast), and Victoria was great as well. I am hoping to visit Amber in her neck of the woods (err, BC) next summer!

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