Written By Jasper Johnson
Jasper is a new member of the Ultra X team. A keen middle distance runner who is looking to up the distance to an ultra marathon, Jasper enjoys writing about all things running.
Canada has some of the most extreme and awe inspiring topography in the world. This makes it one of the prime locations for some of the best ultrarunning in the world, attracting top athletes and adventurers.
Though still perhaps not known for the sport, ultra running in Canada is on the up and in this article we’ve selected the best ultra marathons in Canada for you (an Ultra X event is hopefully coming soon… 😉).
Canadian Death Race
Grande Cache, Alberta
30 July 2021
Scary name, right! This Alberta ultra marathon in the Rocky Mountains is worth checking out.
Competitors come to the Canadian Rockies in July every year to take on this fearsome race. Starting and ending on a 4,200ft high plateau, runners are taken through highly varied terrain, that includes three mountain summits, a major river crossing at the spectacular Hell’s Gate canyon at the confluence of the Smoky and Sulphur Rivers, and a total of 17,000ft of elevation over a 125km course.
Simply finishing is considered prize enough for most competitors.
Run For The Toad
Pinehurst Lake, Ontario
Perhaps not the most inspiring or intimidating name for a race but it is good fun! The Toad is a vibrant, dynamic trail race that takes place throughout Tent City, offering a great Toronto ultrarunning option.
Runners are taken along a 12.5km loop with as many laps as is needed to complete your race with options of a 12.5km up to 50km. Each lap starts and finishes at the campsite so you will never be far from an aid station.
The Toad is not just a trail race, it is one of the great Canadian community events. It brings huge numbers of spectators and families, making it the best family-friendly race around. There is an exciting, fun atmosphere at camp with an expo and a well-earned post-race dinner.
Squamish, British Columbria
14 August 2021
Set in the dense forests of the Canadian west coast, runners get to explore the rural countryside as they run through forest trails in this Squamish 50 ultramarathon.
As runners complete the first six miles they may be fooled into thinking this is a going to be a flat race but this couldn’t be further from the truth! Runners will find 11,000ft of elevation crammed into the remaining 44 miles of terrain with a particularly mean 2,500ft climb bang in the middle.
This is an extremely difficult course made harder by the technical terrain. Throw in the fact that most of the elevation is in the second half of the race and you have yourself a nice day of suffering. Thankfully, the organisers make every effort to distract you from this with a stunning course offering incredible scenery at practically every turn.
La Malbaaie, Quebec
10 September 2021
“RUN LIKE A WOLF AND FREE YOUR WILD” is the catch phrase for this race. Set in the wild back country of Canada’s extreme countryside, this is a truly authentic trail running experience. Presented by The North Face, this Quebec ultra marathon is an international calibre trail running event attended by the largest pool of elite runners in Quebec and known across the world as one of the best ultramarathons in Canada.
The route, which takes place in a UNESCO biosphere reserve, is densely packed with the best raw nature and wildlife Canada has to offer. A race well worth checking out.
Haliburton Forest Trail Race
Haliburton Forest, Ontario
11 September 2021
Haliburton Forest is a special place. Located on the western tip Algonquin Provincial Park, this is the best place for trail running in the region. Runners experience some of the wildest topography in the state making this a great option for Ontario based runners.
Competitors are treated to a bagpiper sending the runners off, as if it were the start of a battle. This is actually highly appropriate as with rolling hills and 80% of the course on single-track and technical terrain it is a battle of sorts…
If you don’t feel like running it you can join the army of volunteers who loyally man aid stations. This creates a welcoming atmosphere that is fun for all levels of competitor. Definitely worth trying if you’re in the area.
Brookvale Trail Ultra Series
Brookvale, Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island is a beautiful place to visit in the summer. And what better way to start a holiday than by hitting a trail race and getting your Brookvale ultramarathon badges? The Brookvale Trail Ultra takes place in Provincial Park along a 25km looped course.
Most of the course is single-track with a sizeable portion set on Nordic ski trails, making for a unique ultra running experience.
What we love about this one is the fantastic small town feel so important to good ultras. You are guaranteed to get to know lots of people over the course of the race. It might not be the biggest or best-known ultra marathon in Canada, but as one competitor puts it: “the Brookvale Ultra is definitely a challenging course and is the friendliest little ultra that I’ve run.”
All competitors are given an oak seedling on the finish line while the winners get a handmade oak cutting board. What more could you want?!
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