Running Across Vancouver's North Shore Twice in One Day - VANCOUVER 100K
The Baden Powell Trail traverses Vancouver's North Shore mountains from east to west, at which point runners of the Vancouver 100 turn around and head all the way back to Deep Cove where they started. The Vancouver 100 is considered to be one of the most difficult 100k routes around due to its technical trails and more than 5,500 meters of elevation gain. This would be a training run for me and a bit of a tune-up in preparation for my goal 100-mile race in 10 weeks time.
So it's about 4:30. I was up at 3:45 this morning and we're just making our way over to Deep Cove on the North Shore to get started at five o'clock. I'm fortunate that Audree has offered to get up with me and drop me off there at the start and she's also going to be crewing me throughout the day so i'm really looking forward to having support for my run that would be much harder otherwise. It almost feels like a race.
So many people. Everybody awkwardly standing away from each other. So we're just making our way down to the water here in Deep Cove so we can touch the water and claim a water bag of Black Mountain which we'll be reaching in about six hours. Alright, hopefully back here in what 16, 17 hours? Something like that. Now we touch the hydrant.
Okay, see ya see you guys out there. And now we're just starting with a quick out and back on the road here, one of two road sections in the entire course. And that's because the course is just shy of 50k.
So to get our 100k, we have to do an extra two at the start. Okay, turn around. Almost there. Good morning.
I'm here in Deep Cove. The boys, Jeff and Jeff, just started their Van 100. It's about a quarter after five here Saturday morning and I'll be crewing all day.
Got lots of good stuff, cooler full of beverages, snacks, first aid all sorts of good things, and change of clothes and stuff for Jeff because it's supposed to rain later. So yeah, should be fun, follow along. Starting at the ocean in Deep Cove, we'll traverse below Seymour Mountain. Mount Fromme, and Grouse Mountain. We'll then pass through Cypress Mountain Resort where we'll summit Black Mountain before dropping down from Eagle Bluffs to the highway and trailhead at Nelson Canyon.
From there we'll retrace our steps all the way back to Deep Cove. So the Baden Powell normally goes out to a place called Quarry Rock which is actually quite a beautiful view over Deep Cove. It also happens to be one of our most popular trails. So that was closed down for COVID. So we actually had to detour a little bit, take a different trail and now we're back on the Baden Powell. The Baden Powell was named after Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouts which I was a part of growing up.
The trail was built in 1971 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of B.C.'s entry into Canada as a Province. The project was initiated by the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides and much of the initial construction work was actually done by the kids.
So green. It rained last night. We're expecting some showers probably mid-morning and then showers throughout the evening. But one positive is that everything is just super green, everything's just popping. About two and a half hours in. The temperature is perfect.
If it stays like this all day we'll be happy. So some of these trails where you see crushed gravel or boardwalk, those are maintained by the city, by the district. And then the rest of it is maintained by the mountain bike association - The North Shore Mountain Bike Association - and they do a great job of keeping the trails, you know, flowy, kind of natural single track, but building them in a way that's sustainable in terms of drainage and erosion.
So we'll be seeing a lot of that too here. Pretty moody light today. So we're just passing below Fromme here and at this point the Baden Powell really does act as a major artery for a lot of the other trails, a lot of the mountain bike trails around here, so it's quite well maintained. It's flowy, really fun single track, and we spend a lot of time here because, as I said, it's sort of the gateway to the rest of the trail system around Fromme.
Hey there. This next section of trail is arguably one of the more difficult parts, mentally anyway, at least on the way back. We're just traversing below Grouse and it's quite steep.
There's a lot of creeks and drainages. It creates a lot of erosion and the trails are quite technical but it also kind of feels like you're going uphill both ways. It's not so bad on the way out but much more difficult on the way back. So it helps to have a pacer, and fortunately I think my friend Matt is gonna be joining me so he's gonna be on fresh legs and he'll be able to keep me moving.
The Vancouver 100 is organized by Club Fat Ass. Fat Ass races are super low key and only loosely organized events. They are completely self-supported and more like adventure runs than competitive races with no flagging, aid stations, timing, or official start time.
The concept of a Fat Ass race started back in 1978 in California when a runner named Joe Oakes needed to come up with a 50 mile qualifying time for the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. The next year, he held the event again calling it the Recover from the Holiday Fat Ass 50. Back then, ultras were relatively few and far between, especially around the holidays, so this is a way to give his ultra running friends a chance to burn off some of those holiday calories. Thus the name 'Fat Ass'. The name stuck and numerous Fat Ass clubs have sprung up around the world since. Here in Vancouver, the tradition was picked up by Ean Jackson who hosted the first Fat Ass 50k run in Canada on New Year's day in 1993.
Since then the club has hosted hundreds of events including the Vancouver 100 which has been a tradition since 2005. So we're just passing by the base of the Grouse Grind which is arguably the most popular trail in North Vancouver. So we'll be popping out at Grouse Mountain parking lot here and then we're going to hit Nancy Green Way which is a nice stretch of pavement down to Cleveland Dam. Nice chance to stretch out the legs, on the way down anyway, and of course on the way back we're going to climb back up. But this is definitely our longest stretch of pavement on the entire route today so we will take advantage of it. Wow look at this, it's a party! It's about 8:45 now, I'm expecting Jeff and Jeff any minute hopefully.
We've seen a few runners already coming through, some friends, so it's quite fun. Okay, so Ijust left Cleveland Dam. It's about the quarter mark.
We're 27 km in, exactly four hours on feet. We spent about five minutes there. I had some watermelon, some Pringles, some lemonade. I refilled my run food and my water.
And my mom and her partner Glen were out which is cool because my mom's actually never seen me run an ultra before. So that was kind of fun. I'm usually traveling for races, and who knows when I'll be running in Vancouver again next.
So I'm back running with Jeff here. We're just starting the big climb up to Hollyburn. We'll be running through Cypress, making our way up to Black Mountain and then down to Nelson Canyon. This area behind me is called Brothers Creek and there's some really cool artifacts in there. I think it used to be an old cedar mill and so there's a lot of old machinery and at one point this would have been all old growth forest. I think there's still a few big trees hidden back in there if you know where to look.
Nice work. Awesome, keep it up. How you feeling? Good, yea. No it's good, it's good. With a little bit of rain, yeah.
Nice temperature. Everything is soft, might be a little too soft up here ahead. How do you think that snow is going to be up ahead, what's your prediction? Well, I've been driving Renee, she's been doing it in pieces all week so i have the beta and it's good in the cross country section, like packed down, runnable and glissadable on the way back. But that section between Hollyburn and Cypress, wet snow bridges, post holing, the usual fun stuff.
Yeah, all part of the fun. Okay, so we've reached the Cypress cross country ski area which is pretty much where we expected to see snow and we have officially hit the snow. We finally made it through that first section of snow. We're on to another sort of technical section here, but pretty quickly we'll be out in the parking lot at Cypress Mountain Resort. But this kind of rooty and rocky stuff here is pretty typical of North Shore trails.
This is what makes runners like Gary Robbins so good when it comes to races like Hurt, the Hurt 100 in Hawaii. You can pretty much train for anything here as far as technical trails go. You obviously have big mountains as well so you can get your climbing in. The only thing we don't really have is altitude.
It's hard to acclimate for races like Hardrock. That really puts you at a disadvantage and the last time I was in Colorado I was down there to film Gary Robbins and Jared Campbell as they did the Nolan's 14. I flew in the night before and the very next morning I was up trying to chase them up a 14er with a big camera and uh let me tell you that was a that was a rude awakening. This is the 35 km mark and I'm waiting in the car because it's quite cold.
It's only six degrees up here right now. Nice work. The Jeff's are here. The Jeffs are here. A little bit early. Oh yeah? Look at that stuff.
Hard to beat watermelon and sushi. Tracking. So we just left our second pseudo-aid station here at Cypress Mountain. This is kind of reminiscent of racing in the Alps actually, running through a ski hill like this. And we're definitely going to encounter a bit more snow here. Well it didn't take long before we hit the snow again.
Okay so we've reached the summit of Black Mountain and it's starting to hail pretty hard. So no views but oh well. Well the sun's coming out as I approach Eagle Bluffs here.
I might actually have a nice view of the city. Oh yeah, look at that. That was the full-on garage sale to save the camera. These lenses scratch so easily.
It's funny because you can hear the highway down there, you can hear the cars rushing by, taunting you, and it sounds like it's so close and yet it's so far. I've still got a good, oh i don't know, 800 meters to drop here, and it all looks like this. I am now at Nelson Creek near Horseshoe Bay here in West Van at the halfway point of the Van 100.
There's lots of activity here, a few crews, people setting up snacks, all sorts of good stuff, so it's been fun to watch people coming in. Hi, I had like this awesome setup over there with the rocks and everything and then it just started raining. Okay, I'll see you back at Cypress.
Have fun. So that was a fairly quick stop at Nelson Canyon. I had some sushi, some chips, pickles and, oh you had sushi too oh there you go yeah. Now we're going to climb back up. Thanks guys. Lots of friends out here today.
So nelson canyon is the start of another event a local favorite race called the Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run - Knee Knacker for short. It's a 30 mile race, so about 47, 48k that follows the Baden Powell from Nelson Canyon back to Deep Cove. So basically exactly what we're doing now. And it's considered one of the toughest 30 milers around and, well, you can probably see why. Just one more time over the North Shore, just have to do the whole thing over again.
Yeah, casual. I that not the most beautiful stretch of trail you've ever seen? What are you up to today, what craziness? Apparently I'm doing five repeat of the Knee Knacker course, 250 kilometers. 250 kilometers? And what kilometer are you at now? Roughly i am finishing 200 at Nelson Canyon and then head back.
Amazing, amazing, such an inspiration. Thank you. Okay, see you guys. Sammy's a beast, hey? He's amazing. Hey, you made it quick, barely over two hours.
I'm having a good time. That climb was pretty exhausting, but the downhill was fun. So we're at Cypress Mountain downhill area for the second time. I'm gonna eat a little bit of that wrap there maybe, yeah. I'd love some lemonade.
Feeling good, having fun. We had some views on Eagle Bluffs which is nice. Saw a bunch of friendly faces. Alright guys, thanks. Okay we'll see you at the dam again. Okay have fun guys, looking good, see you down at the Dam.
We'll race you there. See you at the dam. Alright, so we just hit the 12 hour mark. I'm feeling pretty fatigued, you know, as expected. My legs are a little tired but overall I feel pretty good.
I think I've stayed on top of my nutrition pretty well, my hydration. I think I'm pacing myself pretty well and I don't see finishing this thing being a problem at this point. Look who we have here, it's my good buddy Adam Harris. You'll know him from a lot of my fastpacking films. He started much later than me and he's on a blazing pace today, looking in fine form. How you feeling Adam? Good man, good.
A little slower than expected but I think I'll probably still go sub 15. Amazing. Something like that. Amazing.
Adam's got his wife Jill supporting him today. Yeah and my mom. Oh and your mom? Awesome. Yeah.
Although he's running mostly solo. Do you have a pacer at all? No. Okay, nice. Well go get her, don't let me hold you back. Alright man, good to see you.
Have fun. Adam's a talented runner and he's in really good shape this season. He's been working hard training for his upcoming race as well. I am back at Cleveland Dam for the second time today. I'm expecting Jeff here around six o'clock.
I'm drinking coffee because the 4 a.m start is starting to get to me but the good news is it's kind of sunny finally. So might be a nice evening for the remaining 25k and Jeff is gonna pick up pacer Matt. Gotta get that on film. Oh nice bloody knee. Oh yeah.
You don't seem too hurt though. No it was just like I fell and I was in shock and then I like hit my chin in the mud and I kind of got up I was like, oh god did I just eat mud? Well done you guys. Looking good. Good shuffle.
Well i'll change my socks. Do you guys think you're you're ready to hustle back or is this a pain train? My plan was to run Nancy Green, we'll see how that goes. I was like, there's no limit to what I can bring, there's no flying with a drop bag. Alright, Jeff's got his mouth full, I love it.
Alright okay have a great time. Oh boy. Go Jeff, you got this. Did you make that? Yeah I do a thing called pieoneering. He's a baker. Hi, looking good you guys, looking good, well done.
Paparazzi chasing you. You're moving so well this time Matt. It feels so good! And you don't have 80k in your legs.
Mcdonald's fries? You're moving really well, keep it up. It's about 8:45 pm. It's a beautiful evening. Jackie and I, I think we're gonna have a beer while we wait for the guys.
We're estimating they're going to be done by 10 p.m roughly. Jeff will be a little bit shy of his 16 hour goal, that'll put him closer to 17 hours, but still a really good time. You did it! 17 on the dot, look at that. Seventeen on the dot.
Thanks for your help today babe. Hi matt. Hi. You did it.
Oh yeah, didn't do much. What did Adam do? He literally just got here. So what was this time, 15 and a half? 15 hours and 5 minutes.
Awesome, awesome, that's a great time. Yeah you crushed it this last bit. Nice work.
You made it. That is hard. That feels harder than previously. Harder than you remember? Oh yeah. Funny how that happens.