New Member Welcome

What have I gotten myself into?

Welcome to Club Fat Ass! While the name and event descriptions can be a bit intimidating, come out to any of our events and you will find a friendly, outgoing group of runners of varying experience, speed and endurance. You will find that since each event is run by a different club member, each event has a unique vibe. The emphasis is on camaraderie over competition, so hopefully, you'll come home having learned something and having made some new friends. 

How do I find and pick an event?

There are a number of tools on the Club Fat Ass website to help you keep up to date on upcoming events. The right-hand side of every page and the club newsletter both list upcoming events, the Event Calendar shows all planned events on a monthly calendar and the ActivePorker iPhone app provides iPhone access to the event calendar and race reports (no app for Android users, but the site is optimized for mobile)

Once you find an event that fits your schedule, event details can help you determine whether the event is suitable for you. The event page contains links to a number of sub-pages for each event. The following are the most helpful when evaluating an event: 

  • Event home: provides a description of the event
  • Course: detailed course directions, approximate distances at checkpoints, information on waterstops (and washrooms!). May also include maps and elevation profiles for the course.
  • FAQ: within each event FAQ, there is generally at least one question that deals with the level of difficulty for the event. Responses to this question may give you comparable road distances or emphasize those runs geared towards very experienced trail runners.
  • While Flash events may provide fewer details than scheduled club events, you will usually be able to determine the distance, type of event (loop, point-to-point or out-and back) from the flash event description. And you are always welcome to send a comment to the event host to discuss an event.
  • Results: Check out prior year results. A 25K event with finishing times in the 3-5 hr range is going to be much harder than one finished in the 2-3 hour range!


But won’t I get lost?

Without flagging or other temporary trail marking, it is easier to get lost at a Club Fat Ass event than other trail runs you might have been in.  Route finding is part of the challenge.  While you probably won't get a prize for being first, you may well get a prize for being the most off-course at a CFA event!

Of course, you don't want to get lost, so here are a few suggestions:

  1. Run with someone else.  Most CFA members would love nothing more than to pair up with you.  Don't be afraid to ask!  Just mention you'd like to share the run with someone at the start.  You're less likely to get lost in the first place, but if you do, you'll share the experience with some new friends!  
  2. Read the course description on the website.  Get an overview from the map, then review the detailed description.  This will give you an idea of how complicated the course is and help you identify key points along the way.
  3. Print out a copy of the course description.  The real reason they invented Ziploc bags was to give trail runners a handy container to put their PRINTED COURSE DESCRIPTION inside when they are running. 
    Most the Club Fat Ass events are on courses where you could easily get lost if you are not following the course description. Carrying the description in your handy-dandy, water-resistant, reusable Ziploc bag helps ensure you have access to legible course details for the duration of the run.  (Keep in mind, you’re not only protecting the description from rain – trail running is sweaty work!)
  4. Depending upon the runners participating in for any given race and your pace, you may find comparable runners to run the course with. (I have yet to have to run a course alone). Scheduled events allow you to see who else has registered from the event home page. If you know that you are going to be customizing the course or distance to suit your abilities or intentions for that day, you may wish to use the event comments to try and identify comparable runners with the same intentions in advance of the event.


Wow, the event start is pretty far away – any suggestions on getting there?

Club Fat Ass events are popping up all over North America, but the vast majority are still in the lower mainland of Vancouver, Canada. However, this entails starting locations from Squamish to Manning Park, with great day trips possible to Victoria, the Sunshine Coast and Washington State. Car-pooling to both local and distant events is encouraged! Not only is it good for the environment, but it gives you the opportunity to get to know your fellow club members.

If you are interested in trying to arrange car-pooling for an event, you are invited to post a comment on the event page or in the forums. While on the topic of transportation – keep in mind that most parks now have parking fees. You may want to have an assortment of loonies and toonies in your vehicle to avoid any surprises!


I don’t want to show up and not know anyone...

We are a very friendly group! But we all know the feeling of showing up somewhere without knowing anyone else and trying to fit in. To address this discomfort, we have implemented an Ambassador program. Under the Ambassador program, new members may choose to be contacted by a current club member after joining Club Fat Ass. The ambassador will help answer any questions you may have, help identify suitable upcoming runs and where possible, coordinate to run with you at your first club event. If you would like to get in touch with an Ambassador, please contact Marc Schmitz. For additional information check out the Ambassador program page.


I’m really new to trail running. What do I need to know?

Tough question! Ask a hundred people, get a hundred answers... some of the more common answers you may get are: 

  • Don’t be afraid to walk part of the course. Very few of us run the entire course during any event.
  • Come prepared for the weather and to support yourself for your chosen distance/time. Have appropriate clothing, water, food and any other supplies you expect to need with you. Aid stations are generally not provided at Fat Ass events.
  • Trail running is slower than road running. Any distance on trail will (almost definitely!) take longer than the same distance on the roads. Plan and pack with this in mind.
  • Leave NOTHING behind. Bring all of your garbage out with you. Better yet, pick up other people's trash and get bonus points in the club points competition !
  • You will need your course directions. Print them and bring them!
  • You may be caught needing a washroom where there isn’t one. If you can't hold it, be discreet, do your business at least 5 meters from the trail, bury anything solid at least 10 cm deep and don't use stinging nettle or poison ivy to clean up! 
  • Other club members are a great source of information. You’ll be surprised how much talking takes place on these runs! Trail Runner magazine has a Beginner Trail Runner section on their website. Check it out for helpful information!

What’s with picking up garbage?

At every event, you will see a parade of people showing handfuls and baggies full of garbage to the event host. No, these are not poorly selected gifts. We are so adamant that trail users leave nothing behind on the trails that collecting garbage found on the trail has been included into the Club Fat Ass points series. One point is awarded to each runner who finds and brings garbage off the trail during a scheduled event. (Although no garbage points awarded for flash events, collecting garbage during flash events is good for your karma.)


I have an event idea for an event...

Fantastic! The club is based on member-hosted events and we are always excited about new events to participate in. Event host information can be found on the Club Fat Ass website here (link). This link provides information on posting, documenting and planning your event. If you have any questions on hosting an event, you can use the Contact link on the site to ask any questions you may have.

As a bonus, all hosts of scheduled events get their Club Fat Ass membership fee waived the following year!


What gear do I need to participate in club events?

Every runner has their own idea of essential gear.  In this FAQ, we have only addressed those items that would be considered essential for safety.  Please check the list of ten essentials on the Club Fat Ass site here and at North Shore Rescue

  • Water - belt, bottle or vest as you prefer
  • Shoes (you won’t find many trail runners running barefoot)
  • Weather appropriate clothes
  • Food as appropriate for your selected event and anticipated time.
  • A whistle or other attention-getting device
  • Bear bell or bear spray as appropriate for your selected event
  • emergency foil blanket
  • a cell phone or FRS radio
  • flash light


I have another question...

Please send any questions or New Member content suggestions to Marc.

Welcome to the club!