Be Fearless Marathon

When my friends at Run Like a Girl said they were putting on a trail marathon, I must admit that I was expecting a “sweet” marathon aimed at drawing a broad selection of people, and making sure they had a fun day. Don’t get me wrong – that is a great goal, and I think there is room in the busy schedule of Squamish running for an easy trail marathon to help grow the sport – but it isn’t what gets my heart beating. Nonetheless, I signed up, and shifted my other runs around to make room for it.

Then I looked at the course. It seems the lovely young ladies had gone out of their way to find some of the toughest trails and string them together. Much of the course is pretty mellow, but there is enough entertainment for those who love more challenging terrain.

There were also half marathon and 11km distances, which shared much of their trails with the marathon… but I ran the full, so that’s what I’m writing about.

The day before I did a 20km hill session, so I woke with my legs quite drained. This was going to be a training run… but the weather was perfect, so I was just fine with spending more time out on the trails.

I arrived at Alice Lake in the morning, and chatted to friends on the way to the start line. I had mis-read the start time, and had half an hour less to warm up and digest my breakfast (normally I don’t have breakfast, but thought it would be a good day for experimentation.) There were about forty runners on the start line, three quarters girls. RLAG is in the process of rebranding to try and attract more guys, but it is early days – the races still have female-oriented names and the website has only photos of ladies. However, guys… we are welcome!

The start was called, and we headed out on the Four Lakes trail. The field split into two halves, and I took a leisurely pace at the back of the front half of the field… chatting and enjoying the view. My goals were all about pacing and enjoying the views.

After Fawn Lake, the route veered onto Bob McIntosh trail and then up the rollercoaster which is Manboobs the on to Dead End Loop. Although non-technical, this section brings some good, sustained climbing; it is easy to blow yourself up if you aren’t careful about pacing.

From here, the route cruised down through the Corners and in exquisitely misnamed Tracks from Hell and up onto the Entrails sector, before getting into the first real fun of the course – descending Entrails and cruising along Border Patrol. After the fun was over, the course became benign, cruising up Mashiter and the Northern Connector. Just as the novelty of forest service road was wearing thin, the race turned onto one of my favourite Squamish trails, despite its short length – Fred. I had been expecting to end up back on fire roads after the excellent Plum Smugglers and Word of Mouth was taken off the table by a land dispute, but the cunning ladies routed us onto Tinder, which led to Your Mom, and single track all the way to the mountain bikers parking lot.

The sidewalks and asphalt past Quest and up Perth were either, depending on your perspective, a blessed easy section, or a necessary evil to get back to blessed single track at Lumberjacks.

I could just about smell the finish line from here, but there was one last treat in store… from the old access road, we were sent up In and Out Burger and Room with a View – two of the most intense quad-burners in Squamish as you power-hike up steep single-track trenches and bare granite slabs. A group of mountain bikers were sessioning for their cameras on In and Out Burger, more than a bit surprised by our presence. I paused to chat with them at the top, they commented that of all trails, they were not expecting us to be sent up that trail…. And the it was “fucked up’ for the directors to send us up such a steep trail. I was loving life!! For extra value, we got to descend Penthouse Slab and Icy Hole of Death (another of my favourites!)

The course from here was non-technical but scenic – up Jacks and Fifty Shades to reach a final aid station at Edith Lake, then a fast and flowing 3km down to then around Alice Lake to a very scenic finish.

My congratulations to RLAG for another great event – I’m hoping to make this an annual event.

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