Location: Squamish, BC ♦ Distance: 23km ♦ Elevation: 1000m
This race marked my third and fastest time covering this awesome course. The Squamish 23km is just one of the many events held over the weekend. Other options include the 50 miler, 50 km, or both in what is called the 50/50.
I was extremely excited about this event, partially to race the 23km course and also hopefully catch a glimpse of the inspiring Anna Frost who was there to run the 50km! During the race I’m pretty sure I thought a few times about channeling the inner-Anna Frost, or more so I spent it in awe that she would be running across the same trails not too far behind (despite running a race more than twice the distance).
The course is both fun and challenging with 1000m of elevation gain. To start off it is a fairly grueling climb and in a 23km race this climb demands a little speed, or I at least ran hills that in my previous times on this course I had hiked. Once I reached the spot I dreaded most, the open forestry area, also known as the valley of death… it actually went by really fast, likely because I was running harder than in training runs. It was funny how the part I was most worried about running through came and went so quickly.
This course features a seriously long and awesome technical descent, roughly 3kms worth. Needless to say I had a huge grin and spent this whole section feeling like a gazelle, but likely looking more like a frantic billy goat, either way I was happy.
The rest of the course ebbs and flows with trail and a little open forestry type road. Then comes the final climb, that seems slightly endless as it reaches the scenic viewpoint of Mt. Phlegm (a suiting name for this point in the race). I remember one of the encouraging volunteers yelling “great job, get on going” and the man near me saying “this is our getting going!” I agreed breathlessly, but finally the summit was reached and then it was smooth sailing to the finish line. Through the smoke bluffs and into downtown Squamish where each racer was greeted by Gary & Reed Robbins (maybe depending on your timing, but Reed was part of my finish line-crew and hug).
I was very happy to have finished 26th overall, 6th for women, and 2nd in my age category!
The post race celebration here for the 50km and 23km runners (or 50/50s!) was phenomenal. There was great food, amazing people, and truly inspiring racers coming in from both courses. And yes, I got to watch Anna Frost crush the 50km and say the wise words of her post-race plans to have all the wine and all the chocolate.