Campbell, Louttit battle it out in Squamish 50 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRIAN GOLDSTONE, ARC'TERYX - 50-50 Adam Campbell battled Jason Louttit for the lead of the Squamish 50 ultra, finishing the 50 mile course under eight hours.
  • Photo by Brian Goldstone, Arc'Teryx
  • 50-50 Adam Campbell battled Jason Louttit for the lead of the Squamish 50 ultra, finishing the 50 mile course under eight hours.

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.

"It was nice to have a really good battle and to be challenged that hard," he said. "Gary (Robbins) and Geoff (Langford) designed one of the hardest courses I've ever run. There was no rhythm to it, no flow to it, it was a very dance-y, technical course, very west coast. I've done races with more vertical, and this one had no major climbs, but it was unrelenting, you were always going up or down and twisting and turning, so you had to be focused the entire time, which makes it really hard. It doesn't suit my skillset that well to be honest, which is another reason I'm pleased with the way I ran."

As for the race selling out in its second year and plans to build a three-day festival around the race next year, Campbell — who lives in Vancouver and trains in Sea to Sky often — said it has all the ingredients of becoming a major event.

"Ultra running and trail running are at an all-time high in popularity, races everywhere are selling out," he said. "Gary is a great ambassador for the sport, and you know Geoff is involved as well that it's going to be well-run. For an ultra runner that's a big deal. You want to know the course is going to be well-marked, that there's going to be water at every aid station, and it's just a great place to run... It has all the right ingredients to become a major international race."

After Louttit there's a sizeable gap in the results, with Ed McCarthy placing third overall — and first in the 20 to 29 age category — in 8:38:52. McCarthy raced a 50-miler two weeks before and was running at a slower pace. As well, two runners Campbell expected to challenge — Squamish's Nick Elson and Mike Murphy — were injured while running and did not finish.

The women's race was also a battle, with Kristin Moehl finishing sixth overall in 9:37:13. Hot on her heels was Lisa Polizzi in 9:39:47, less than two minutes back. Kathy Mckay was the third woman in 10:25:23.

Eric Carter won the 50km race in 5:27:21, followed by Blaine Penny in 5:32:25. Third place went to a female racer, Catrin Jones, who finished in 5:51:52.

The third male was Alex Dunn in 5:53:18, while the second female runner (fifth overall) was Samantha Drove in 5:59:12, with Stacie Carrigan placing 10th overall in 6:28:00.

The 23km race was similar with two men in front and a female racer in third. Brad Schalles took the win in a blistering 1:51:25, followed by Simon Stewart in 2:04:22. Anne-Marie Madden was third in 2:08:13. Garth Campbell was the third male in 2:08:19, and Claire Morgan (seventh) and Nicole Ker (13th overall) were second and third for the women in 2:13:30 and 2:24:08.

Complete results are online at www.squamish50.com.

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