Guest Post: Fat Dog 100 Trail Race

Written by Heather Macdonald, Mountain Madness Trail Running

120 miles is not only a daunting distance for the racers but it’s a major undertaking for the race committee to make sure the route is ready for race day. So we divide it up into six imaginary legs and tackle it that way: 1) Cathedral, 2) Trapper, 3) Bonnevier, 4) Heather, 5) Skagit, and 6) Skyline. 

Click to enlarge trail map.

In conjunction with BC Parks, we set up a tentative schedule for May to August, prioritize our tasks and create our work calendar. Some of that work is done by our core group and some days include volunteer racers. Racers have a pre-requisite for the race and must contribute 4-8 hours each depending on the race option they have chosen; the longer the event, the more maintenance required.

 Here’s our schedule for 2012.

Date Leg # Trail
Sun May 27 5 Skagit Skagit from Sumallo Grove
Mon June 11 4 Heather Skagit Bluffs and Dewdney to Hwy 3
Sat June 30 4 Heather Hope Pass to Grainger Creek
Sat July 7 5 Skagit Skagit Centennial Trail
Wed July 11 5 Skagit Skagit Centennial Trail
Sun July 15 2 Trapper Calcite Aid station to Trapper Lake
Sat July 21 2 Trapper Easygoing Creek in two directions: to Trapper Lake, and to Centennial Trail down to Ashnola River Road.
Sun July 22 1 Cathedral Lakeview and Centennial
Sat July 28 5 Skagit3 Bonnevier Skagit Trail from Sumallo Grove.Bonnevier
Mon Aug 13 5 Skagit Shawatum: trail to Centennial
Tue Aug 14 6 Skyline Skyline: Despair Pass
Wed Aug 15 5 Skagit Skagit Centennial Trail
This photo of Centennial Trail was taken June 9, 2012. By August, this was cleared.
 As soon as the snow starts clearing at lower levels in May, we come out to Manning Park to check trail conditions in our designated areas and provide reconnaisance for BC Parks. The terrain and accessibility help dictate our priorities, for example access to Skagit Valley Centennial Trail is easy and it is a priority because it gets overgrown with bushes and grasses and gets laden with fallen trees.

Over the past two years, we have seen an increase in volunteers and hours committed.

In 2011, 35 people contributed 256 hours. In 2012, 44 people contributed 294 hours. Typical work includes brushing, pruning, rebuilding cairns, redefining the trail where overgrown, clearing fallen trees, shoring up retaining walls, replacing bridge planks, and improving sightlines.

Peter Watson shores up retaining wall.

One of my favourite work days was July 22 with 2 teams starting at the top at Cathedral Park and working down to Ashnola River Road. Dorothy and Charlotte went down the Centennial Trail side and Don Scott and I went down the Lakeview side. Don had never seen Lakeview and he had the advantage of seeing it from the most scenic location before it descends into the trees.

Lunch break while clearing Hope Pass Trail: Don Scott, Dave Webb and Rick Chance. These three men collectively surpassed all other volunteers for time spent on the trails.









 Somehow it doesn’t seem like work when we get to be on the trails and take in the fantastic views. And to hear what racers have to say about the route makes it all worthwhile.

“It is an incredible race in truly stunning country.”

“The scenery on this course is AMAZING!”

“The people, views and trails were spectacular. I had a blast! The finish area is possibly the best finish I’ve ever seen. Acres of grass to stretch out on with a great lake and BBQ to boot.”

Janet Macintosh prunes on Bonnevier at the lower end near Eastgate Road.
Don Scott (in orange coveralls) travelling down Lakeview Trail in Cathedral Provincial Park.

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