This past weekend marked the 11th anniversary of the STORMY ultra.  I believe that the history of this run goes something like this:

11 years ago, Paul Cubbon decided to design a running route on the same course as the famous and very popular Test of Metal Mountain Bike route in Squamish.  STORMY stands for the Squamish Test Of Running Metal Yeah!

The start line of the unofficial STORMY #11
The start line of the unofficial STORMY #11

For a few years, it was a 67 km route, then it became a 64 km route and most recently it was a 50 mile loop which could be completed as a 50 miler, a 100 miler or a 6-person relay.  Wendy Montgomery was the RD for 6 years and decided to pass off those responsibilities after the 2010 10th year edition.  Sadly, the flame went out with the passing of this torch and the STORMY race was cancelled in 2011.

But the love of those awesome Squamish trails lives on in the hearts of previous years’ runners, volunteers and the ever-committed RD.  So a last-minute email was sent out just a week in advance and, if you were lucky enough to be in the loop, you were invited to the 11th annual running of STORMY.  B and I were in that exclusive loop and jumped in on the opportunity to participate, even though it meant cancelling out on other plans.  In all, 5 of us toed the line early on Saturday morning.  Imre, Jennika, Wendy, B and I posed for a starting line photo, taken by long-time volunteer and race MC Enzo – who showed up just to take photos and support us before he headed out for his GranFondo training ride.

Wendy chose to take us on the old 64 km route and Imre, who has run in the race (almost?) every year made sure that we all followed the route correctly.  We cruised along, chatting, exchanging Stormy stories and refilling our water at the public taps of Perth Road and Alice Lake.  We all celebrated as we passed both the Edith Lake turn-off and the University Loop turn-off, since those two sections were only added to the course when the 50 miler came in 2008.

The sweet powerline trail of Rob's and Cliff's Corners
The sweet powerline trail of Rob’s and Cliff’s Corners

When we arrived at the location of the Powerhouse aid station, Wendy disappeared into the woods and returned with stashed water and a cooler full of the best kind of aid station treats .  We gobbled down handfuls of salt and vinegar chips, cokes and cookies.

Stashed aid station at the Powerhouse bridge
Stashed aid station at the Powerhouse bridge

Once we were recharged, we headed out for the hike up Nine Mile Hill and eventually down the ever-thrilling Ring Creek Rip and Powerhouse Plunge trails, returning us to the same hidden aid station a few hours later.  During this section, we came across 6 runners who were running that 22 km loop over and over and over again. The “Gerbils”, as these loopers are affectionately known, must not feel comfortable exploring the hundreds of miles of exciting trails right in the same neighbourhood! There is no accounting for taste.  Our running group became smaller at this point.  Imre and Jennika decided to cut the day short at the top of Nine Mile, as her knee was bothering her on the downhills.  Now we were down to three.

The last part of the course runs through Crumpet Woods and eventually through the Smoke Bluffs of The Chief.  Although those last few climbs are not big, my legs were thoroughly tired and I was counting down the kilometres just as I had done when running the 50 miler in 2009.

Climbers at Smoke Bluffs
Climbers at Smoke Bluffs

We arrived at the Brennan Rec Center after 8.5 hours on the trails.  Both GPSs read just under 60 km for the day.  Imre came to wish us well at the finish, we quickly changed and headed to the ol’ Howe Sound Brewery for a well-deserved pint and some lunch(?).  The Baldwin and Cooper has never tasted so good!

It is so difficult to see a great race disappear off the local race schedule, especially when Wendy has sunk her heart (and her savings!) into this one for years.  We are all hopeful that Stormy will return next year, but regardless of the race’s future, we know that we will hit those fabulous Squamish trails annually to celebrate it.  What does it take to put on a race?  We decided that it takes an email address list, a bag of chips and some die-hard friends.  To me, the day was far easier than manning an all-nighter aid station at Edith Lake!

Stormy '11 - finished!
Stormy ’11 – finished!

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Along A Path

general lover-of-life, including ultra-running, teaching, enjoying craft brews, being outdoors and living simply

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