Fat Ass events are an ultrarunning tradition. The tradition dates back to 1978 in California when Joe Oakes needed to come up with a 50-mile qualifying time for the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run.
The only local distance event Joe could find was the 50 mile Christmas Relays which required a team of 7, so he entered himself in each of the 7 legs and attracted 10 teams to accompany his solo attempt. Organizing the relay was a chore, so the next year (1979) Joe simply invited anyone who wanted to run an informal 50-miler to join him. He called it the Fat Ass 50.
The concept of low-key, no-frills, low or no-cost events struck a chord with experienced, self-sufficient runners. The name Fat Ass has stuck for this type of event and numerous Fat Ass events have sprung up around the world.
Inspired by Joe Oakes, another Western States 100-mile participant, Ean Jackson, hosted the first Fat Ass 50 kilometer run in Canada on New Year’s day in 1993. Jackson’s aim was to create an annual hangover cure for his ultrarunning friends… something that could be totally managed via the Internet, leaving him free to run with his friends rather than fret about the details of event management. Since 1993, the Vancouver Fat Ass 50 has grown steadily in popularity and notoriety.
The concept of providing detailed written course directions to each participant rather than marking the course markings was an early innovation. So was providing special recognition to those who helped fellow runners, picked up trash or otherwise did good deeds during the event. A few years later fellow ultrarunner, Sibylle Tinsel, organized a free night run. Other friends soon wanted to add their own running events.
The challenge of linking athletes with enthusiastic hosts of fun, low-key, free events became the genesis for Club Fat Ass. Club Fat Ass was founded in Vancouver, Canada in 2003. The Club welcomed it’s 1,000th member in March 2015 and doubled that by November 2018. You’ll recognize a fellow Club member by the distinctive t-shirt they are wearing!
Since 2003, the Club has hosted over 500 trail running, road running, cycling, snowshoeing, back-country skiing, mountain climbing, peak-bagging events, and related events.