7 new trail running races for 2019
Great adventures from the Fraser Valley to the Bay of Fundy
The cult of trail running is growing quickly across Canada as more and more runners are discovering the pleasures of soft-stepping through the trees and powering up and down root-infested hills in search of athletic nirvana. For those on the lookout for the next big trail adventure, here are a few new trail races and a unique trail ultra to check out this season.
Fraser Valley Trail Series, June 8 and July 27
Bear Mountain and Manning Park, British Columbia
New this year, the Fraser Valley Trail Series (pictured above) takes dirt merchants south of Vancouver to an area that is frequented far less than other nearby areas. As such, the races present a fine opportunity for runners to discover a gorgeous new running territory. The two races in the FVTR’s inaugural season will be held in parks near Mission at Bear Mountain (8K, 12K and21K) and Lightning Lake at Manning Park (10K and 21K).
The Sunburn Solstice Trail Race, June 22
Marydale Park, Mount Hope, Ontario
New from the fine folks at Happy Trails Racing, the Sunburn Solstice Trail Race is based on a 3-4k trail loop. Given that this race is the Solstice, the longest day of the year, runners have the opportunity to race the full day, to the tune of 15 hours and 23 minutes. Runners start at 5:39 am and finish at sundown if they can make it. But there are also a half, quarter and eighth solstice options available with the shortest being one hour and 55 minutes. This event is family friendly and Happy Trails encourages both walkers and runners to take part. “Our focus for the race is that it will be well-supported, have great swag, and most of all will have a laid-back festival feel to it,” says co-founder Jeff Rowthorn.
Spartan Trail, June 30
Owl’s Head, Quebec
The obstacle-course racing giant gets into the trail running game with the new Spartan Trail series. There are a dozen or so events south of the border, and a Canadian edition scheduled for the end of June. Spartan Trail offers both a 10K and a 21K in either an elite or age-group category. Owl’s Head is a resort area overlooking Lake Memphremagog and located in the beautiful Eastern Townships of Quebec.
Mad Trapper, June 22-24
In this new trail ultra, participants run laps on a 6.71K trail loop instead of one large course. In the style of Lazarus Lake’s Big Backyard Ultra, the Mad Trapper (pictured above) continues until there is one runner remaining and if they complete the last lap they are declared the winner. Everyone else gets a DNF. It’s going to be radical. The trails are on private land in the Gatineau Hills north of Ottawa.
Trail Fix, Sept. 9
Trail Fix is a 110K point-to-point trail run relay for teams of four, featuring 10 distinct stages designed to suit a wide range of runner types. Unlike many other relay events, the vast majority, some 90 per cent, of the course is on the trail and off the roads. Teams are free to divvy up the route however they please but can expect an average breakdown of anywhere from 22 to 33 kilometres per runner. The race ends at Albion Hills conservation area and the Caledon location is just an hour outside of town. The course includes some of the most diverse trail running terrain in Southern Ontario.
Race the Cape, Oct. 12
Cape Chignecto Provincial Park, Nova Scotia
This East Coast gem is under new management as Eric C’Arcy and the Crazy Cat Adventures team moves in to carry on the Race the Cape tradition. The event features a beautiful course along the Bay of Fundy (pictured above) with plenty of technical and climbing to satisfy most trail runners. The 12K, 24K and 48K routes out of Millbrook Canyon include an 800-metre climb at an average of 16 to 20 per cent grade. The loop may also include water crossings depending on the weather leading up to race day.
Hardwood Trail Running Series, May 25
The fine folks of Hardwood Ski & Bike have revamped the annual trail running series to a trim six events, and each race will also raise funds for a unique local charity such as the Barrie OSPCA and the Season's Center for Grieving Children. Hardwood is ideally situated on the unique Oro Moraine and provides a gorgeous backdrop and plush soil perfect for trail runners. The series kicks off May 25 and allows for participants to sign up for each event and accumulate points towards an overall championship. Most races have 5K or 10K options as well as a shorter race for kids with the September event going big with a 7K and a 21K.