Here are 40 in-person and fun outdoor events taking place in Canada this fall
Road, trail, bike and adventure races await
Although it is moving slowly, in-person events are happening and they are happening right across the country. Sure, many have some new rules, whether it is start times, congregating after races, masks, or vaccines. But they are happening. And that's a fantastic thing.
So, we thought we'd showcase as many as we can for our adventure and racing-loving community including a few featured events from some of our favourites.
The return to in-person running events is imminent. And it is hard to imagine a more gorgeous and fun race with which to celebrate than the Canmore Rocky Mountain Half Marathon, 10K and 5K.
This well-organized and family-friendly race is celebrating 25 years of racing along the Bow River with a full day of racing scheduled for Sept. 12.
“It feels great to be back in person this year! Last year was supposed to be our 25th-annual race, and having to postpone that celebration was obviously disappointing,” says race director Jamie Carrick. “We have certainly missed our runners, and this year is sure to be a blast as we mark a big anniversary for the race. We can't wait until race day on Sept. 12.”
New this year to celebrate the 25 annual event is a Kids Race, which will be free to enter.
The Half Marathon course is a combination of asphalt and high-quality gravel with several short climbs and winding paths and features a gradual incline and then decline of roughly 45m through the last half of the course.
The beautiful 10k course is appropriate for both beginners and expert runners/walkers. Beginning in the middle of historic Canmore the10km loop will bring runners through town and out along the Bow River, revealing stunning views of Ha Ling Peak and the Three Sisters.
“Canmore is a beautiful place! Everyone loves running in the mountains, and runners visit from far and wide to run our course along the Bow River, through downtown, and in the beautiful woodlands of the Bow Valley,” he says. “The 10K and 5K distances, in particular, are favourites as they are fast and flat, encouraging many runners to push for a personal best finish.”
This year will mark the 25th year of the Canmore Rocky Mountain Half Marathon. The race has grown significantly since the inaugural year of the event, but it has kept its community feel, and its charitable focus. This year the race will introduce a new charitable partner in the Embrace International Foundation, a Canmore-based non-profit that strives to help children living with disabilities thrive in a more just, loving, and accessible world.
Although Carrick says it’s been a challenging year-plus for everyone, including those who organize these races, he is predicting a strong bounceback.
“I think runners will come out in full force to participate in person once again,” he says. “As this will be an outdoor event, and with vaccination rates in Canada growing every day, we anticipate a quick return to our usual levels of participation. I think many people are starved for events and fun.”
If a race with stunning views, minimal elevation, great support, and fun, with an outstanding charity attached is what you are ready to tackle this September, be sure to register online.
High-quality road races are few and far between in Ontario this fall. Options south of the border are off the table, while most others are sold-out or have limited options. Enter the exciting and absolutely new event the Georgina Marathon and Half-Marathon.
This race, scheduled for Oct. 17 and located one hour north of Toronto, is new this year and is a well-organized and scenic half-marathon and marathon along the shores of Lake Simcoe. The race is a Boston Marathon qualifier, certified by Athletics Canada, and measured by Peter Pimm.
“Once we started moving into stage three (of Ontario’s pandemic reopening plan) we said, alright, let's kick this off again,” says Sandie Orlando, a co-founder of the event along with Cindy Lewis-Caballero. “And we just started to fast-track everything. It’s exciting.”
The first year will see both a half-marathon and marathon option, and the event can have as many as 1,000 runners. The course winds along a very flat lakeside drive with cottages on one side and the lake on the other. And, there are plenty of places along the route for spectators to come and cheer without having to congregate in one setting.
Both of the race organizers have athletic backgrounds especially as coaches in the multi-sport world. And the new event was inspired by the desire for more opportunities to race in person and give athletes something for which to train and strive.
“We thought, why don't we just see if we can put something together and see if we can make this happen,” Lewis-Caballero says. “So that's really the inspiration. We just wanted to give our athletes something to work towards as well as every other runner out there who has nothing and is getting a little tired of virtual stuff.”
The Georgina area is popular with cyclists and is nice and flat, which should present an opportunity for some great times for those hoping to qualify for Boston. For others, it is a fantastic first half-marathon experience, with a gorgeous and fast course.
Those who have taken up running this year, planning for a fall half-marathon right now will add some oomph to training plans. It’s all about setting goals and reaching them.
“We did a couple of small race simulation days up there to explore around a little more, and see what people thought about it. And you know, everybody just loves it,” Orlando says. “It's a really beautiful community. It’s quite small, but it's well suited to athletes going up and sharing the space.”
Of course, there will be COVID-19 measures in place, so it might not be a typical marathon experience, but it is something and it is something that will grow into, Orlando hopes, one of the premier races in the Greater Toronto Area.
“This year, it’s a little bit more intimate and a more grassroots experience,” Lewis-Caballero says. “But it's a race that we're planning to do each year, and grow to become one of the popular ones on the race scene going forward.”
For more information about the race head to the website.
The Summit 700 trail running event is an epic one-of-a-kind race up, down, and along the gorgeous Niagara Escarpment at the Blue Mountain resort in Ontario. And it’s back for the first time since the pandemic and slated for Sept. 25 and 26.
The Summit 700 is a 5K, 10K, or 21K on some of the finest trails one could find with 700 feet of ascents on the escarpment, rock hopping, creek crossing, and sublime forest running. And it’s conveniently located at the resort overflowing with amenities for post-race fun including restaurants and plenty of outdoor patios and an array of accommodations if participants want to make a weekend of it.
“Our venue is probably the most unique thing being at Blue Mountain because it's such a cool atmosphere in the village and the hill,” says Bob Miller, Summit 700’s race director. “It’s a really fun atmosphere, but then we're also on the Niagara Escarpment with those stunning views over Georgian Bay. Every time I'm up there looking out over the bay, it's like, geez, you don't get views like this almost anywhere in the world with this big escarpment over the big body of water.”
Miller is stoked to have the event back and got a taste of the excitement last weekend at a smaller event.
“Racers were super pumped to be back and all the organizers were super excited to be hosting them again,” he says. “It's almost surreal that we can finally do it again after all the uncertainty.”
There will be some changes. Everything happens outside under tents, staggered starts at Blue’s south base lodge, masking rules, and things like that. But it’s outdoors, it’s with the trail running community, and it’s all good on the stunning trails the resort has developed over the years.
“Blue has invested quite a bit in their trail network over the last like 10 years, and they’re really good,” Miller says. “There's like cool steps, you know, made out of rocks and stuff like that.”
The race has been growing in popularity quite rapidly since it began a few years back taking over from the North Face Endurance Challenge and has found a perfect niche in the local trail running scene. Summit 700 draws many participants from the surrounding area around Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, and Owen Sound as well as the majority who head up from the Greater Toronto Area on race day or for the weekend.
The race is capped at 750 participants this season due to COVID-19 regulations, and it is already on its way to selling out so do not delay.
For more information on the race or to register head to the Summit 700 website. See you out there.
One of Canada’s most exciting and popular adventure races is back in operation this year and would-be participants are already lining up to get a crack at the Mind Over Mountain Adventure Race (MOMAR) set for Sept. 25 in Cumberland, BC.
Race director, Bryan Tasaka, is happy to be back with a physical event in 2021, and by the response thus far, so is the adventure racing-loving public.
“We are thrilled that the MOMAR can go ahead for 2021,” he says. “It was disappointing that we had to cancel last year and we weren’t very optimistic that this year was going to happen either.”
Adventure racing got a bona fide shot in the arm when the Eco-Challenge returned a couple of years back, but with the pandemic, it was hard to solidify that new fan base. But, MOMAR is already nearing a sell-out, so something is clearly working.
“Based on the registration response, we do feel that everyone is eager to return to racing, and being that the MOMAR is held outdoors and participants are naturally spaced out, I think everyone will feel comfortable,” Tasaka says. “We have over 650 people signed up and we’ll cap the race when we hit 700.”
That doesn’t leave a lot of time for those looking to get in on the action in 2021, but this race is on a lot of adventure racer bucket lists.
The race has been around for 21 years, and this will be the 41st event. It all started in the Cowichan Valley with one race and 44 racers, Tasaka explains.
“I think we had more volunteers than racers,” he says. “So much has changed but the essence of the event — challenging race, unknown adventure, and killer after-party — has remained true to the first event. We’ve held races in Squamish, Sechelt, Ucluelet, Ladysmith, Shawnigan Lake, Burnaby, Lake Cowichan, and Duncan but the Cumberland venue can’t be beaten and that’s a big reason we’ve been there for 20 years in a row.”
Tasaka describes Cumberland as an adventure racer’s dream destination, which is filled with world-class singletrack, breath-taking terrain, all set in a cozy historic mining town.
The event features a 30-km sport course, which Tasaka says is very achievable for most (as long as you don’t get lost), and a 50-km enduro that will push the fittest athletes to their limits. The Enduro course features approximately 10K of paddling, 25K of mountain biking, and 15K of trekking. The Sport course is 30K with approximately 5K of paddling, 15K of mountain biking, and 10K of trekking.
“The MOMAR is a very unique experience that has adventure mixed with competitiveness on a challenging course. The event is really fun too and most teams are just out there to finish,” Tasaka says.
“Each stage of the race — mountain biking, trail running, orienteering, and paddling — could stand on its own as a race,” he adds. “Also our awards dinner and after-party are legendary for the buffet and the dance party.”
This year, Tasaka is working on a new map for the orienteering stage and the transition zones will also change. It’s part of the fun of organizing an adventure race that the route changes every year, and returning teams won’t know where they will be going until 90 minutes for the race.
“The unknown is a big part of the adventure so we always strive to keep it fresh,” he says.
For more information on the race or to register, go to Mindovermountain.com.
Sept. 1/19 Scotiabank Calgary Marathon
Join in the excitement with the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon race month — a hybrid event in 2021. Participants will be able to choose between an in-person event on Sept. 19 or run the virtual race experience any time between September 1 to 30. All participants can fundraise for any of our 80+ charities through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge.
Sept. 6, Island Lake Classic, Orangeville, ON
9th annual Island Lake Classic 10