The second running of the Arc'Teryx Squamish 50 ultra run and relay sold out quickly this year, with 150 people signing up for the 50-mile (80km) race, and hundreds more for the 50km race and 23km race.
The 50-mile course featured 85 per cent singletrack and almost 4,000 metres of climbing, with almost all of the climbing after the first six miles (10km) of race course.
Two of the top trail runners in the region, professional ultra runner Adam Campbell and local mountain runner Jason Louttit, the reigning Squamish 50 champion, squared off. Campbell, who has battled an ankle sprain since the winter, got the best of Louttit in the end, finishing the race in seven hours, 37 minutes and 23 seconds. Louttit wasn't far back, coming in at 7:40:09.
Campbell said the race was a great battle, coming down to the last eight kilometres.
"Jason took off with a 36-minute 10km pace, which is ridiculous for a 50 miler — that' s very, very fast," said Campbell. "I have a ton of respect for Jason. When he's on he's on, and you can't let him get too big a gap on you so I had to run a little quicker the first 10km than I normally would. I have the Canadian record for a 50-miler, and it's not even that (36 minute) pace."
Campbell said the three-minute gap stuck around for the next 15 to 20km, but at aid stations he figured out that he was gaining a little on Louttit, and over the next five kilometres he bridged up about two minutes.
"(Louttit) was having a bit of a problem on the downhills, I think he had a bit of an ankle issue going on and wasn't as fast, so at about 35km he only had about a minute on me," said Campbell. However, the race hit the longest climb of the day at that point and it was another 10km before Campbell could finally bridge up to Louttit. The two runner's exchanged leads for a while until Louttit opened up another huge gap on Campbell, again pulling ahead by around three minutes.
"I actually had a pretty huge low point from kilometre 60 to 65, and he opened up another three minute lead on me," said Campbell. "I actually thought I was done at that point. I had no idea if anybody was pulling up behind us, and at that point I was just trying to consolidate second place. When you get into those low points you can't really worry about pushing against other people, you have to take care of your personal needs and figure out what you need to do to keep moving forward as efficiently as you can."
Whatever he did worked, and at about the 65km mark, Campbell started to feel better. He closed the gap from three-and-a-half minutes to two-and-a-half minutes between the next two aid stations, and at the final aid station at the 70km mark he was in sight of Louttit.
"As soon as I can see somebody, I get some energy from that and I caught him," said Campbell. "He looked like he was struggling a bit, so I pushed as hard as I could to get out of sight. I knew Jason would race hard to catch up as long as he could see me."
For Campbell, who has been sidelined for most of the season after injuring his ankle in February, and caught the flu before the only 50-mile he's entered this year, it was a big deal to be competitive again — especially on a course that's as tough and technical as the Squamish 50, and after such a close battle.
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