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Fat Dog 120 Trail Race

11-Aug-2017 EC Manning Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

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6 REVIEWS
Trail Race Race Terrain
193KM / 120Miles
3 Days - 400 Runners

Alternate Distances: 113KM/70M 80KM/50M 64KM/40M

DIFFICULTY Race Difficulty Brutal  

Challenging trail ultra in British Columbia's beautiful Cascades Mountains, travelling through 3 provincial parks and one recreation area and within a 3-hour drive from Vancouver.

Of the 5 events (120, 70, 50, 40 mile and relay), the 120 mile is considered one of the top 9 toughest races by Outside Online magazine.

Terrain is technical and non-technical with most being scenic single track trail and very little forest service road and paved road.

Stunning scenery; bring a camera.

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Event Organiser
Heather Macdonald

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Beginner

Elevation: Very little change < 500 metres. Benign running terrain, not technical.

Suitable for: First ultra runners completing a marathon or doing regular long distance running in the last six months.

Intermediate

Elevation: Increase of up to 1000 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed at least one ultra distance race (or similar event) or are doing long distance running (>26 miles) regularly, with elevation shown.

Advanced

Elevation: Increase of up to 1500 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed several ultra distances or similar events, or are doing long distance running regularly, with elevation shown.

Expert

Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with some challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity or heat) and or technical terrain

Suitable for: Experienced runners who have completed at least regular ultra distances in last 12 months, or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races may be subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements.

Brutal

Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with very challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity, heat or at high altitude) and or technical terrain.

Suitable for: Very experienced long distance ultra runners (min 3 years’ experience) or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races is often subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Purchase of specialist kit is often recommended for these races.

Review Fat Dog 120 Trail Race

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burtonjohn

02:53 23-08-16

Beauitful yet brutal race through stunning scenery of British Columbia. Very remote and rugged. Breathtaking. Relatively long distances between aid with terrain that can take longer than expected to cover. Probably not for newbies. Great race for experienced veterans looking to be challenged. Did I mention, it's not easy :)

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mlinn

11:14 19-08-16

Incredible race - volunteers were awesome - good combination of climbs and declines - some good technical sections - views are incredible ! Not for beginners - definitely a tough race - stayed at Manning Eastgate Motel - new and clean accommodations - situated middle of race - weather was hot and dry (average 33 degrees Celsius) - need to be self sufficient - a true mountain ultra ! Highly recommend it

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Natcouture

06:58 23-08-15

Ran the 120mile event in 2015. Was the most brutal weather conditions I ever encountered during a race. Because of this the visibility wasn't great making it less scenic but it wasn't hard to tell that this would be a beautiful race. It is almost all singletrack not very technical but with 4 very big climbs each harder than the last. The descents were long but quite gently sloped making the race easier than i expected...but it was still very hard. Probably harder than UTMB which I did in 2013. What made this race exceptional was the organization and the volunteers. For a young event it is very well dialed and they have tremendous volunteers supporting the race in even the most remote segments. Anyone doing this race ahould know that the aid stations are far appart and that the course is ridiculously remote which means being self sufficent for long periods of time. Bring the night gear for the whole race! Don't skimp, it will cost you your race. I loved this race and would recommend to anyone looking for a tough 100+mile race.

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Aitch

04:17 20-08-15

I ran the 120 miler in 2015. We had thunder & lightning on exposed mountaintops, pouring rain and driving hail, freezing cold winds threatening to blow us off the ground and fog/clouds that kept visibility down to almost nothing at times. Quite simply, this was the most difficult, most satisfying event I have ever done. The course is as spectacular as it is vast and the race organizers are top notch. I saw a comment in one of the reviews from last year that said something about the staff at the restaurant the went to for breakfast being overwhelmed and unprepared, but this has been remedied. Fat Dog now has the full support of the town of Princeton (where most people spend the night before the race), the mayor even spoke at the pre-race briefing.
There is no doubt in my mind that I will be back for years to come either as a runner or volunteer. Believe me, I'm not one for platitudes, but Fat Dog changed my life.

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TrailEffect

05:46 20-04-15

I’ve completed the 120 miler twice, in 2013 and 2014. My partner completed the 70 miler in 2014 as did my father - the two of them ran with me for parts of it the previous year. My sister and mother were also inspired to complete the 30 miler in 2014.
I’ve written extensively about this race on our blog traileffect.com so I'll keep this review fairly short and to the point.
Positives:
Unbelievable course; almost all single track through remote wilderness with phenomenal views!
Great volunteers; they hike in all the supplies for the remote aid stations! The accessible aid stations have some fantastic food! I quite enjoyed the bacon, eggs, hash browns and a smoothie at mile 100.
Negatives/Other things to consider before signing up:
This is a remote and hilly course! Aid stations are often ~10 miles apart along strenuous terrain so really you need to have your ducks in a row before leaving an AS.
The final 20 miles of the race is potentially the most difficult, especially if you're not expecting it! From mile 100 to 120 there is one of the four large climbs, followed by several false peaks. I heard many racers complain about these last year. Also, to make things more fun, there really isn't access to this part of the course - it's shorter to go to the finish than it is to hike out.
Due to the starting time, many racers for the 120 finish in the dark on Saturday night/Sunday morning!


Also, thanks Dave for the mention and the positive feedback regarding my cheat sheet!

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dave_small

10:19 19-04-15

Dave Small, Victoria, BC - Fat Dog Review 120 Miler ~ August 15, 2014

The day before the race everyone met at the Manning Park Lodge. After getting organized and the race briefing, the journey to the start line began. Not exactly straight forwards for some of us. First, we had to take our cars to the overflow parking lot about 8 km away and then wait to take a bus back to the lodge. It started raining at this point. Next, the bus left with those of us staying the night in Princeton and Keremeos. It was nice to meet and chat with other runners, mostly from the States. Arrived at the Sandman Hotel about an hour later and settled in: dinner, light prep, early to sleep. Up at 6am to fine tune hydration pack and other prep. Breakfast at 7 was interesting because the restaurant filled with runners and no one had told them about our event. They were overwhelmed but I thought they handled it very well. Some racers also helped out by pouring coffee. Bus leaves at 7:45 for Keremeos to pick up some racers while others make a pit stop. Back on the road again at 9:00 and one more brief stop for some more racers on the way. We make it to the start line by about 9:30 or so and hike down to the bridge for the start. The bridge seemed a little shaky. I wonder if all 135 people made it onto the bridge for the start? Small bridge, lots of people. Anyway, bear banger start at 10 and power hike uphill for the first little while.

Very relaxed at the start and happy to be amongst so many good runners. Truth to be told I wanted to run Cascade Crest this year but when I found at that some local running friends were signing up it became clear Fat Dog was the right choice. Besides, bragging rights for 120 miles just sounds better than 100. Matt, Dave, Lori, Brian, Chris, Allen, Gary, all helped to confirm my choice. In addition, volunteers Sylvia, Fergus, Randy, & Sarah, and meeting many new faces and runners added to the excitement of the event.

During the climb up Red Mountain I ran with a fellow Death Racer for a while and we reminisced over the ups and downs of that 125k race. Weather was overcast, and with a huge amount of luck the temperature was maybe in the mid-twenty’s and it didn’t rain at all during Fat Dog. A steady climb with some running bits was the first section, and it took some time for me to sink into a groove. I started to feel really good about 8 hours in heading downhill into Calcite. But for now, when I arrived at the first aid station (Cathedral), I was bonking slightly so it was a good time for an S-Cap, coke, and snacks.

Up in the alpine for some nice views. Running across scree slope where there was not much of a trail was challenging and did not help with finding my groove, but it was very scenic and pretty (ooh, aww). Okay, onward. Again, met more runners along the way. Funny how two-thirds of the runners in the race were from the States and end I up running with ones mostly from Vancouver. Great bunch of runners, very strong with lots of experience. Later in the race I did end up running with a girl from Colorado for about an hour or so, who ended up being the first woman to cross the finish line. Also, I eventually picked up on another runner’s cues that he was not in the mood to chat much. Into Ashnola aid station where Randy Duncan filled my bladder with water and got me on my way with a warning of more climbing ahead.

Caught up to Chris Cochrane after my first drop bag aid station at Trapper and enjoyed running with him for a bit. He finished around 47 hours last year and was determined to do better this year (he did: 38 something). He had the best cheat sheet. Dave Melanson also joined us briefly at this time, which was right at Trapper Lake. There was some nice meadows with boggy areas and fairly good running; a little a bit of technical. I think I was started to feel pretty good now and somewhat in my groove. Cruising by Flattop Mountain and descending into Calcite I was about at the eight hour mark and in full flight. Fresh Bannock at Calcite was heavenly. Chat up with the ladies then on my way again. 10k to Paysayten River crossing.

Met up with Jordan (first woman finisher) and Tim (Vancouver) on the way to the river. Took only a few minutes to cross the rushing river using the rope, but it sure felt good on the legs and I could have easily stayed in there for a while. Alas, after some ginger ale and snacks we put on our safety vests and headed to the highway for the run up to Bonnevier aid station (66k from the start). Change shoes, shirt, get some water, and start another climb while eating a Hernandez Classico burrito. Good times, good food. Sun is starting to go down, and after about an hour it was dark.

So after my warm up and feeling good period, by midnight I had my first rough stretch. It was a fairly constant climb through the night and the food I brought was not doing it for me anymore. My saviour I guess was salt-n-vinegar chips and Ener-C electrolyte drink until I could reach the Heather aid station where they put me back together with quesadilla, broth, ginger ale, space blanket, and best of all — a chair. Tough climb, distance, night, fog, wind, and cold, all combined for a rough challenge to the top of Three Brothers Mountain. A couple of times I just sat on the side of the trail and caught my breath. Body was doing well and the intense pain I felt later in my legs and quads had not arrived yet.

Nicomen Lake looked like a big black hole in the middle of the night, then all of a sudden I was at the aid station (half way point in the race). One runner was wrapped up in space blankets due to a fall. I also slipped several times through the boggy technical bits on the way to Nicomen, but managed to catch myself just in time. A short stop, I didn’t even sit down. Had some chips and electrolyte and on my way. The next section was fairly easy running so I picked it up a notch and flew. There were many old, extremely slippery bridges along this stretch so I walked across them. Stopped at one point to put a bandaid on a blister that opened up. Tried to keep up with some new acquaintances from Seattle, Brandon and his pacer Nick. By dawn I accomplished this and ran with them to my third drop bag at Cayuse flats.

Once again: new shoes, shirt, socks, quesadilla, and broth. Also, a little bug spray and brushing my teeth at a creek went along way for rejuvenation purposes. After a pit-stop in the bushes I realized I forgot to refill my water, but that did not matter since Cascades aid station was only 8k away. However, another good climb was involved which I forgot about. Met up with Sylvia, Fergus, and Sarah at Cascades, where they refilled my water and provided me with duck tape for my quad muscle that was beginning to throb during all the downhills. A nice hello and goodbye to them and on my way to Sumallo with my safety vest.

Dude at the highway said it was 2k to Sumallo, but it was actually 3.8k, and felt like 10k on the road. Regardless, I’m starting to feel it. I was approaching 24 hours of running at Sumallo. Tired, but able to keep a steady rhythm along the relatively easy trail beside the Skagit River. 17k until Shawatum aid station, and 32k until final drop bag at Skyline. Someone woke up some mosquitos.

In and out of Shawatum aid station after a few minutes of just sitting in a chair and having a few snacks. Many of us are leap frogging each other during this part of the race, and then we all seemed to have a bit of a reunion at the aid stations. Only 48k to the finish, and a little over 24 hours in I acknowledge that we can walk the rest of the way and still finish in time. 15k to Skyline aid station, and other than some mosquitos and significant quad pain, a rather enjoyable run. The sun even decided to show its face at this point amongst the trees.

Smoothies at Skyline ais station, I had three of them. Amazing volunteers eager to please, loved it and needed it. Last time for new shoes, socks, and shirt before the finish. Brandon, who I ran with earlier on with a pacer had a new pacer but dumped him at Skyline in order to finish on his own. Joon wanted to get in more running so I agreed to have a pacer. He was my first pacer ever in a race, and it turned out that he really helped me to keep my head on straight. Honest, I wasn’t abusive at all to him. I think my worst comment going up Skyline was, “This course is evil.”

Best for last: one hell of a climb. The sun was now out in full and we were heating up on the open parts of the trail. But that didn’t matter really, and it only made the view from the top of Skyline that more intense. We then arrived at an aid station that I didn’t expect, Camp Mowich. Throughout the day I had been developing a sore throat, so some chicken noodle soup broth was yet another life saver. Onward and upward to the last aid station.

Sky Junction aid station: 13 km to go to the finish and somewhere around 32 hours on the course. Glad that Joon took more than one picture because in the other ones I was not smiling. Once again fantastic volunteers eager to help. I asked if I would finish before 36 hours and they said, “Oh totally.” That made my day and I was eager to leave. However, my trusty pacer asked if I had any water. I had none left. Oops, good call. Then we were back to some really steep climbs and heavy breathing (for me) until the top.

I could still run downhill but it was excruciatingly painful. The way it worked for me is it took about 10 to 20 feet to work up my nerve to start the jog, and then when I got going it was easier and I could go for a few minutes or so before taking another short walk break. It was pretty much this way for me all the way to the finish. Maybe a bit longer sometimes, because for some reason as I neared the finish line the pain became less and less. Such a mental game, jeez.

Anyway, after 120 miles and 28,485 feet of climbing I was done at 34:01. Thanks again to all the volunteers and to Heather MacDonald and her crew for organizing such a great race.

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