The Most Popular Summer Outdoor Races in Western Canada

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

calgary marathonWestern Canada hosts a massive number of road races, trail races, orienteering races and adventure races during the summer months. The favourites necessarily depend on the preferences of the individual runners - some just do not like running through mud or up mountains - but these are some of the most popular ones:

  • Runners often vote the Calgary Marathon as their very favourite road race in Alberta. It meanders through the city and ends with a pancake breakfast at Stampede Park. 

  • The Manitoba Marathon at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg runs through residential neighbourhoods around the city. Almost the whole route is flat and shaded, so while it is a long run, it is not an impossible endurance test.
  • Forbes ranks the BMO Vancouver Marathon as one of its top 10 race destinations, where you run through streets, park and alongside the beach. 

  • The Queen City Marathon in Regina lets runners run on a flat course around one of the largest urban parks in North America, and is always booked out well in advance.

  • Edmonton has three exceptionally popular races, as voted by Alberta's runners: the Canada Day Road Race, the Edmonton Marathon and the Canadian Derby Edmonton Marathon.

  • Other popular races around Alberta are the Melissa’s Road Race and the Banff Ekiden Relay in beautiful Banff, the Kananaskis 100 Mile Relay Race and Woody’s RV World Marathon in Red Deer.

  • The Canmore Challenge Trail Race serves as the Canadian Mountain Running Championships. One can either run 4K, 8K or 12K in some breathtaking scenery between majestic Rockies peaks.

  • The Grouse Grind Mountain Run of 2.9K up the Grouse Grind in North Vancouver, BC, is popular, but also difficult. The trail climbs 853 metres and is not called Mother Nature’s Stairmaster without justification.

  • The aptly named Canadian Death Race in Grande Cache, AB, stretches over 125K and elevation changes by 5,000 metres during the race. Distances between stations are long, and weather often plays a determining role in the runners' ability to complete it.

  • The five-race Gutbuster Trail Running Series on Vancouver Island includes different races at different skill levels. One of the most popular is the Colliery Dam half-marathon Race in Nanaimo, which takes runners through steep climbs, downward slopes, two creek crossings and a mud pit.

  • One of the most popular races in the 5 Peaks Trail Running Series is the Whistler, BC, event. Runners run either the 4.9K or 10.6K race. It is run at high elevation on trails that include steep slopes and even rocky bits where climbing skills are useful. 
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