The Vancouver New Years Day Fat Ass 50 is an ultrarunning tradition. The objectives of this event are to sweep away the cobwebs of the previous evening's excess, work off a few of those holiday calories, and to start the new year with a fun run in the company of like-minded individuals.

The tradition dates back to 1978 in California. Ultramarathon runner Joe Oakes needed to come up with a 50-mile qualifying time for the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run. There were no organized distance runs in his area, and even fewer runners who could run the 50-mile distance with him.  Joe put together a 7-person relay event and attracted 10 teams to accompany his solo attempt. Organizing the relay was a chore, so the next year Joe just invited anyone who wanted to run an informal 50-miler to join him. The idea caught on, and today Fat Ass runs of varying distances are held around the world.

Vancouver's first Fat Ass 50 was put on in 1994 by Ean Jackson, a veteran of the Western States 100-mile run.  There were no GPS devices back then, so the distance was more like 50 miles than 50K, and there were a few complaints toward the end of the run. Since Jackson was out of the country in 1995, Greg Horner took over the reins for a few years and upped the standards by providing a measured 50K, free beer and a hot tub at the finish. The event has bounced back and forth between a handful to 100 participants over the years. In 2003, the event became affiliated with Club Fat Ass.

The current route was established in 1999.  With minor modifications, the course remained the same until 2007, when a devastating wind storm made the interior trails of Stanley Park impassable.  Since then, the run has started on the Stanley Park trails and finished along the Stanley Park seawall. 

While the Vancouver Fat Ass 50 is not a race, many top national and international runners have participated over the years.


Records and Results

100K  (ran the 50K course twice on the same day)

  • Double-Dipper                   - Tim "I Love the Pain" Wiens, 10:48 - 2010

50K Course

  • Fastest female 50K time   - Ellie Greenwood (3:59) - 2013
  • Fastest male 50K time      - Nathan Barratt (3:35) - 2013
  • Longest swim                   - Sammy "Numb Nuts" Lotfi-Pour (0:22:29) - 2012

For the benefit of those who like to keep score, the finish times and distances provided by the participants are maintained on this website. It is assumed everyone runs the same course, but that's not always true, as some runners get lost and run farther.  Please refer to the results page for participant names, their times and photos in each year the event has been held.


The Differences

This event follows the guidelines provided by Club Fat Ass for safe and successful, informal endurance sports "parties": 

  • It is free for Club members
  • It is hosted by a Club member
  • Anyone is welcome to join the Club and run whatever distance they are comfortable with
  • It is informal. Guests should come prepared for the weather and the terrain and not expect aid or course marking. They should expect to follow detailed written course instructions
  • It is environmentally friendly. We aim to leave our route in better shape than it was before we passed through by picking up trash we find
  • It is as much about the camaraderie as the competition.

Guests at the event download directions based on natural and physical landmarks. As with orienteering, those who aren't familiar with the course will pause frequently to consult the written directions, giving a slight competitive advantage to those who have trained on it. Course directions are available year 'round on the course page of this website and we encourage everyone to enjoy the route as often as they please throughout the year.

Detailed questions and clarifications specific to this event are provided in the Vancouver New Years Day Fat Ass 50 FAQ or contact the Event Host for specific questions.


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