top of page

SQUAMISH 50 / 50 - The Pain

Ty Holton Photography

The Squamish 50/50 is a two-day race consisting of a 50 mile run on Saturday, and then a 50km run on Sunday. It is one of the most famous Trail Running ultras in Canada and usually has over 1000 runners competing between all of the distances. What makes this race special is definitly the two day stage race type atmosphere but it also just brings forth the best people in ultra running. The ones who strive for greatness, never giving up no matter the weather, no matter the pain. The Squamish 50 also attracts great people from across the lower mainland who belieive in the sort of drenched optimism of endurance sports. It is the playful sort that engages in the sort of activity that allows everyone to be themselves. Each with their own motivation and raison d'etre. Their own routine at the aid station, the playful exuberance or the serious determination. Ultrarunners are a breed. So wehat is to make of this this time pursueing goals? Well as the author of this blog post I will write a little about my experience, a little about my thoughts, and probably very little about the race itself, becuase well, you are getting into the mind of an ultramarathon runner. And isn't that what you have always hoped for? A window into the soul of why we do this shit, what we think about and what drives us to such insanity? While I am not the most successful in the sport, I would like to think that I have a bit of exerience and I would like to share this sort of morbid thoughts with you here in this post. I hope you enjoy.

What does it mean to truly live? (Don't worry this blog post isn't going to be some sort of bullshit, "Search for Meaning") Well, I guess living means something different to everyone at different points of their lives.

Speak to a kid growing up in rural Canada and they will most certainly be thinking of playing hockey for the rest of their lives. That is living. Any teenage boy, well sex probably crossed their minds a few hundred times before you even finish asking the question. That is living. Buying your first car, Taking it on the highway and cruising it far past the speed limit. That is living.

Falling in Love, Falling in Love. Falling in Love. That is living at its finest.

I'm sure if you asked a couple of newlyweds, likely they will talk about that day as being the happiest of their lives. New parents, would argue "living" is the day they brought their child home from the hospital.

Finishing an Ultra. That is living.

But are all these things "to truly live"? Chasing these little milestones in our lives. Who the hell knows. Is running an ultra a form of truly living? And what the hell does that even mean anyway. Sure living is all those feelings mentioned above, but these are all moments. Fleeting. Times in our lives that we feel this absolute power in the universe. The strength and the pain come together to bring us this temporary joy. Like a drug that leaves us looking for more. The numbing from the mundane provides a little window into the soul of what brings us happiness. Where do these Ultramarathon races fit into these moments in our lives? For one, maybe the few that finish these damn things are the only ones that know of this particular pain. That pain in our bodies, bones and limbs leaves us crying as each kilometre clicks off like a slow-moving clock. Whether you stop or push past it, it still hurts. Then there is that joy at the end of the trail that leaves runners feeling pretty damn good about themselves. "Hey, I did that!"

Are Ultrarunners special in this particular pain? Fuck no. We all have our vices.

When that hangover wears off the next day, the realization comes that just because you completed that run, doesn't change anything. You are still you. Chasing that next high.

I get the question "Why?" all of the time when it comes to running these long distances.

Truth is, I never know how to respond. Maybe it has to do with what I wrote about in the last blog post. Running away from something, maybe running toward something. Maybe it is for the reasons listed above, chasing that high.

Probably if I had to be honest. Running these long distances distracts me. For that feeling of accomplishing something, that high, really makes me forget about of all of the issues I keep bottled deep down inside.

What's also likely is that I will one day, I will look back at this blog post and think. "What a little emotional asshole."

But then again, maybe not, I have been chasing this feeling of "Living" for quite a while and it's unlikely that I will change that.

The Squamish 50/50 probably one of the first ultra marathons I had heard of. The first time it had crossed my mind was probably a similar thought that crossed most people. "That is fucked". And yes it sort of is. I mean I think so, This is where I tell you that I still have yet to complete this race. I dropped at the fourth aid station on Saturday. I felt terrible, mentally, physically every bone in my body did not feel like being here in the first place. Every muscle in my body did not feel prepared. Whether it was my legs or my brain, the muscle was not prepared for this sort of grueling endevor. Dark thoughts entered my brain, thoughts that felt very real and very cynical. Cynical to every feeling before and every feeling in the moment. Suddenly thoughts of my childhood kept popping up. Thoughts of my experiences, my reactions, running away. Running away from what? I am not sure but fucking hell, let's go and let's go quickly. This was the moment around 28 km into an 80km day that my mind had more important things to deal with than whatever this was meant to be. Whatever this race was meant to prove, whatever it was supposed to make me feel suddenly did not really matter. The Squamish 50/50 was not going to solve my problems. It was not going to cure this heart, and it was not going to make me feel worthy. So what the hell was the point.

So give up then.

Ok give up and forefeit even more. Give up and play to those insecurities in my head and let them validate these feelings. These thoughts in my head that tell me that I will never amount to anything no matter what I accomplish or give up on.

So here in lies the question. Does running ultras, this temporary high of finishing long races fill me with enough joy to be happy with myself? I guess the way I framed this question means that is a bit rhetorical.

My Squamish 50/50 ended at the fourth aid station. About 35 km into the first day. Not even halfway through the 50 miles required to finish the first half of the crazy stage race. It could be easy to blame this defeat on the 100 ml of rain that rained helfire upon us on Saturday but I think you and I both know, my defeat had nothing to do with outside forces. The defeat was within myself and myself alone. The solitary defeat. And that is ultrarunning, the sport is very much racing against yourself, running against no one but the mind and the will. Even as these races challenge the individual, they can also give you an appreciation for that person in front of you, and even more so behind you. Each person running for something, pushing their body and mind into places they never thought were possible.

I found beauty that day that I decided to quit. That beauty was cheering on and supporting friends that were running their own race. The friends that pushed themselves to their own extremes of their limit to see how far they could go. There is something to be said for pursuing this sport in the pursuit of others and it was in those moments where I finally found peace. Peace in myself and peace in the experience. The experince of Ultra.

4 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page