Although it was a smaller field at the start line for the 2008 Comfortably Numb Trail Run, the conditions were perfect for the almost 100 athletes who did take part in the 25 km trail race.
While there is always a chance that a previous record can be beaten, as Vancouver’s Adam Campbell did in the 2007 race, it’s hard to imagine where a runner can find even a minute of extra time on the demanding course, much less nine minutes. Yet that’s exactly what Squamish’s Aaron Heidt achieved on Sunday, posting a new course record of one hour, 49 minutes and 50 seconds — almost nine minutes faster than Campbell’s record of a year ago.
Heidt had to average a kilometre every 4:23 from start to finish on a course that features more than 800 metres in climbing and a long, technical decent. More impressively, Heidt had never run, biked or hiked the trail before and wasn’t sure where it started.
“It was a super fun course, definitely the funnest course in the (Sea 2 Sky Trail Running) series, and it fit my fitness level really well,” he said. “It wasn’t too steep at all, and I could run the whole time without any hiking. It was wind-y enough it didn’t show any cardiovascular weakness, and technical enough to slow me down. The downhill was really fun as well.”
Heidt, who set a record in the Rubble Creek Classic last year, wasn’t planning on setting a record on Sunday but knew it was possible early in the run.
“Adam Campbell is an amazing hill runner, and when I heard there was 2,400 feet of climbing I thought the record was pretty strong and would be hard to break, but when I was on the course and saw how winding it was and how gradual the climbs I saw it was a record that was breakable,” he said. “I also know that Campbell is not as strong a technical runner as he is on the climbs, and the downhill definitely favoured me.”
Not knowing the route created a few difficulties, missing turns and coming up on bridges without a plan to get down, but he said running in Squamish has helped him to prepare for anything.
“I pretty much threw myself down them,” said Heidt. “A few times I missed corners, and had to slam on the brakes and turn around, and there was one section in the middle on exposed granite where you’d run for five minutes and find yourself a few feet away from the trail you just ran on, but it was really fun. It was almost better not to know where you were going.”