North America's longest and oldest ski tour keeps tradition alive with exciting virtual edition

Canadian Ski Marathon runs Feb. 6 to March 7

The Canadian Ski Marathon (CMS) has been a cherished part of the winter sports calendar since it debuted 54 years ago. This year, the event has gone virtual and offers a great program for all.

“Our vCSM will be a month-long opportunity for skiers of all ages to continue living the Canadian Ski Marathon legend! We have an event that focuses on participation year over year and on “just being out there for nature’s winter,” says Frederic Menard, event director of the CSM. “Since our usual CSM is not a race, it was easy for us to embtour the same ideals and define a virtual event where participants will be encouraged to ski as much as they want from Feb. 6 to March 7.”

Cross-country skiing has become quite popular this year, and participating in an organized virtual event such as the Canadian Ski Marathon is an excellent way to set goals for those new to the sport, and for experienced skiers to keep engaged with the community and motivated to get out there. 

“Cross-country skiing can easily be practiced while social distancing,” says Menard. “We want people to feel connected to each other while they participate in something they love that this pandemic has not taken away from them. In that light what will be unique is that we will work hard to give people a sense of connection over the month-long adventure.”

The virtual CSM has adapted its categories so participants have challenging goals that are attainable wherever they are located. The Tourer skiers need to ski at least 15km during the event period, while those registered in the Half-Marathon category must ski 45km in one day, while the Coureur des Bois participants must ski two 50km days. 

Participants can register on the CSM website, and then print off tour bibs at home. Once the virtual tour is complete, competitors can send information back to the CSM email to have their performances recorded so that they receive a medal. Also, completion of the virtual event does count on the permanent record for those striving for gold, silver or bronze bars, permanent and pink bibs.

Medals will be mailed to participants following completion and for Coureur des Bois participants when GPS data and photos are received. 

“This shorter distance is intended for them to more easily cope with logistics wherever they ski from, be it Quebec City, Alberta, Vermont, Ontario, without having support from checkpoints to provide food and water,” Menard explains. 

Menard says the CMS is a special group of participants and he is hoping to make sure that they keep connected during the virtual event. 

“CSM skiers are a wonderful community and some have experiences going back decades which they enjoy sharing with others,” he says. “The CSM will make greater use of social media than typical to share photos and digital maps to show all participants where others are skiing and how they are having simple fun skiing in different venues. People will learn about different ski trails in their regions near and far as we share information amongst a variety of ski clubs on designated CSM-training trails.”

The CSM has a Facebook page, an Instagram account and a website and skiers can connect via these pages. There is also an enthusiastic team of CSM Ambassadors who are promoting the virtual event with their communities ski clubs and friends. 

“They are providing a lot of live information to the community and are letting us know about information gaps and questions from skiers,” Menard says. “Experienced skiers from the Board of Directors will also be providing advice and information live online in the coming weeks.”

The CSM was created by Donald Macleod back in 1967 on the occasion of Canada’s 100th anniversary. And although it was founded by a ski racer who was on the 1964 Canadian cross-country ski team, the CSM has always been a tour intended for skiers of all abilities. 

“The initial route was 120 miles from Montreal to Ottawa but this quickly became a 100-mile route from Lachute to Ottawa, then to Gatineau and now to Buckingham,” Menard explains. “In recent years we have added a northern option where we start the event just south of Mont Tremblant. The route is always 100 miles.”

The tour has had its challenges over the past half-century mostly related to weather and conditions including the infamous 1988 ice storm, but thanks to an incredible team of volunteers, it has always persevered. Now, the pandemic is something completely different but one that the CSM will once again get ahead of because events such as this are just what we need right now to keep active and grounded. Menard says the CSM is ready and hopes that you are too. 

“We need you to come and we need you to invite friends. Commit early so you will train and have the motivation to ski,” he says. “This will do all of us good, to be outside and to ski. The CSM has been around for 54 years, we all want this event to continue for another 54 years of adventure and friendships, we need your support. Already we have near 300 skiers registered, we want another 300!”

For full virtual event information go to the CSM website. We will see you out there!



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