2014 Readers’ Choice Awards

The votes have been tallied (over 2,500 of them) and the winners have been chosen. Drumroll please!

The votes are in – more than 2,500 of them! The winners of our 10th annual Readers’ Choice Awards represent the best races, businesses, places and events as decided by you, our readers. Where applicable, Readers’ Choice Awards are presented in three geographic regions: Eastern Canada (Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada), Western Canada (Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories) and National. Awards in the National category represent events or organizations with at least one event/operation in both the Eastern Canada and Western Canada divisions. Winners in the National category are not eligible to win a regional award. Where there are no votes or a multi-way tie (with more than four winners), no winner is indicated. Congratulations to all of our 2014 award winners.

Best Adventure Race

Eastern Canada: Storm the Trent

Western Canada: The Swamp Donkey

Best Charity Training Program

Team in Training

Best Cross Country Ski Race / Event

Eastern Canada: Gatineau Loppet

Western Canada: Canadian Birkebeiner

Best Cross Country Ski Facility

Eastern Canada: Hardwood Ski and Bike

Western Canada: Canmore Nordic Centre

Best Cycling Club

Eastern Canada: Toronto Bicycling Network

Western Canada: United Riders of Crowsnest

Best Event T-Shirt

Eastern Canada: Ultra-Trail Harricana

Western Canada: Sinister 7

Best Health/Fitness Club

National: GoodLife Fitness

Eastern Canada: Buns of Steel Boot Camp

Western Canada: Aspire Fitness

Best Lap Swimming Pool

Eastern Canada: Regent Park Aquatic Centre

Western Canada: Kinsmen Sports Centre tied with Kitsilano Pool

Best Marathon

Eastern Canada: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Western Canada: BMO Vancouver Marathon

Best Masters Swim Club

Eastern Canada: Nepean Masters Swim Club

Western Canada: LifeSport Swim Masters

Best Mountain Biking Event/Race

Eastern Canada: 24 Hours of Summer Solstice

Western Canada: BC Bike Race

Best Mountain Biking Facility

Eastern Canada: Hardwood Ski and Bike

Western Canada: Canmore Nordic Centre

Best Obstacle / Mud Racing Event

National Series: Mud Hero

Eastern Canada: XMAN Montreal

Western Canada: Dirty Donkey Mud Run

Best Colour Run

National Series: Color Me Rad

Eastern Canada/Western Canada: No clear winner

Best Off-Road Triathlon

Eastern Canada: Mine Over Matter

Western Canada: Edmonton River Valley Offroad Triathlon

Best Orienteering Event/Race

Eastern Canada: Raid the Hammer

Western Canada: Manitoba Orienteering Association Jessica Lake

Best Outdoors Store:

National: Mountain Equipment Co-op

Eastern Canada: Bushtukah

Western Canada: Wilderness Supply

Best Personal Trainer

Eastern Canada: Jay Quarmby, Southern Cross Fitness

Western Canada: Kim Ogren, Kim’s Kickin’ Fit

Best Piece of Sports Gear or Apparel

Asics GEL-Cumulus Running Shoes

Best Place to Buy a Bike

Eastern Canada: Gears Bike Shop

Western Canada: Bikes and Beyond

Best Place to Buy Running Shoes

National: The Running Room

Eastern Canada: The Runners Shop

Western Canada: Fast Trax Run and Ski Shop

Best Place to Buy Tri Gear

Eastern Canada: Enduro Sport

Western Canada: Tri It Multisport

Best Place to Do a Spin Class

National: GoodLife Fitness

Eastern Canada: Quad Spinning

Western Canada: Tri It Multisport

Best Place to go with a Sports Injury

Eastern Canada: 361 Degree Chiropractic Sports & Wellness

Western Canada: Pan Am Clinic

Best Post-Race Party

National: Mud Hero

Eastern Canada: Muskoka River X

Western Canada: Electric Donkey Run

Best Race Kit

National: 5 Peaks Adventures - Trail Running Series

Eastern Canada: Muskoka River X

Western Canada: SeaWheeze Half Marathon

Best Road Cycling Race/Event

Eastern Canada: Wellspring Peloton Challenge

Western Canada: RBC GranFondo Whistler

Best Road Triathlon

Eastern Canada: Niagara Falls Barrelman

Western Canada: The Great White North Triathlon

Best Run Club

National: The Running Room

Eastern Canada: Tribe Fitness

Western Canada: Fast Trax Run and Ski Shop

Best Road Running Race (non-marathon)

Eastern Canada: Around the Bay Road Race

Western Canada: Winnipeg 10 & 10

Best Ski Hill

Eastern Canada: Blue Mountain Resort

Western Canada: Whistler Blackcomb

Best Snowshoe Race / Event

Eastern Canada: Don’t Get Lost Snowshoe Raid

Western Canada: The Yeti – Snowshoe Racing Series

Best Sports Drink


Best Sport Nutrition Food

GORP Clean Energy Bar

Best SUP Race

Eastern Canada: Eastern Canada SUP Championships  

Western Canada: Kalamalka Classic

Best Trail/Ultra Run

National: 5 Peaks Trail Running Series

Eastern Canada: UTHC Harricana

Western Canada: Sinister 7 Ultra

Best Winter Race:

Eastern Canada: Pentathlon des Neiges

Western Canada: Ice Donkey

Best Indoor Climbing Gym

Eastern Canada: Climber’s Rock Indoor Climbing Gym

Western Canada: Vertically Inclined

Best Urban Race

National: City Chase

Eastern Canada: No clear winner

Western Canada: Pain in the ASSiniboine

Best Sports Photography Company

Kelly Morton Photography

Best Outdoor Festival

Eastern Canada: Montreal International Jazz Fest

Western Canada: Fire & Water Music Festival



Race Reviews

Race reports from running races, triathlons, duathlons, adventure races, obstacles runs, bike races and more!


Age and Mentorship in Ultrarunning

By: Ian MacNairn  

Ultrarunning is still a fairly obscure sport populated predominantly by the endurance world’s outliers. That said, ultrarunning popularity has been and continues to expand phenomenally. It has been historically pursued and dominated by Master athletes. In fact, even a few years ago, one would struggle to find a large number of athletes under the age of 30 in most ultramarathons. Even in 2013, approximately 54% of ultrarunning participants in North America were in the Master (40+ years old) class. Another 33% were 30-39 years old.

In the past few years there has been growth in younger demographics with many more athletes in their 20s and early 30s competing in ultras of all types and distances. There are even teenage runners participating in and placing quite high in competitive fields. Ford Smith, 17, of Austin, TX has been ripping it up from 26 to 100 mile events. Andrew Miller, 18, of Corvallis, OR is another who has been diligently crafting his ultra resume since he first entered his teen years. And then there are the even more surreal adolescent ultra phenoms such as Colby Wentlandt, 13 –the youngest to complete a 100 mile event at age 12, or Tajh, 10, and Teagan, 8, Redden, brother and sister who crush 50K trail runs as part of their everyday family adventuring!

A crop of the young guns are coming to ultrarunning from relatively recently completed collegiate track and cross-country careers. Others transitioned from elite (and successful) road-running into the world of mountain, ultra and trail-running. Then there are the mountain climbing and ski machines that have easily found their running legs. Not only is the expanding magnetism of ultrarunning attracting younger athletes, but this new blood infused into the sport is fast. On both the men’s and women’s fronts, these folk are winning regional, national and even international events with increasingly deeply competitive fields.

While races are won on the day, young runners, as a group, have not yet begun to break down many course records (CR) that stand on iconic and classic routes both domestically and internationally. The bars have been set, sometimes decades ago, by those veteran runners that spent much time in the sport, experimenting with and learning the myriad of nuances that culminate in exceptional ultra performances.

Naturally, the landscape of ultrarunning changes. The demographic shifts and expands and an increasing number of stakeholders result in an expanding universe. New runners bring raw speed and, possibly, great talent into the ultra gene pool. However, the nature of ultrarunning is far more expansive than physicality or some sense of imbued aptitude. Ultrarunning, while situated first and foremost in the individual, is built on community and no small part of that is the process of mentorship. Following in the footsteps of veterans and CR holders, the new generation of ultrarunners has begun to reap the benefits of mighty mentors.

Under Hal Koerner’s tutelage, the Rogue Valley Runners shop in Ashland, Oregon doubles as a training stable for a slew of very fast young ultrarunners. Kilian Jornet, possibly the greatest endurance athlete of his generation, has continually pursued legendary mentors the likes of Bruno Brunod, Stéphane Brosse and Pablo Vigil. Dominic Grossman, of Los Angeles, has drawn from his relationship with local legend Jorge Pacheco in leading to his own ultrarunning prowess in Southern California. Grossman describes: “Jorge taught me the standard of competitive ultrarunning: train hard, believe in yourself, listen to your body, and don’t give up. The details will work out if you’re consistent and keep at it. Four years later, I’m a much better runner for his guidance.”

This inclusion of mentorship and the greater supportive community in young athletes’ experience will help in leading them to greater feats than seen in the sport to date. Furthermore, this care can aid athletes in developing sustainable practices while simultaneously benefiting the sport by ensuring the passing on of the tightknit fellowship in shared suffering from which ultrarunning first emerged.