Trail-running’s popularity has grown exponentially over the last few years, with new comps appearing yearly to meet demand. To help you plan your race season we have compiled a chronological list of some of the finest events in Ontario, Quebec and beyond:
Sulphur Springs Trail Run, Ontario – Saturday May 23
The Ontario Ultra Series’ Sulphur Springs is an early-season race to stretch your quadriceps after the long winter. The 20-km looped course provides plenty of different options so it’s an ideal family event that will accommodate runners of all levels. And it is spectator-friendly, with loads of viewpoints from which to cheer on friends and family during the course. Headquartered near Hamilton in the Dundas Valley, the race has raised more than $60,000 to help support the Dundas Valley Conservation Area.
The only Canadian leg of this US-based monster mountain-running series features the most pronounced elevation in Ontario. Runners will sweat through dramatic Niagara Escarpment ridges and valleys overlooking Georgian Bay. With near-constant elevation gains and losses, runners will be humbled and exhausted by the unique and heavily featured terrain. With eight races including a marathon and a 50-km, plus a Kids Run, the Endurance Challenge is quickly becoming Ontario’s baddest trail event.
Haliburton Forest Ultra, Ontario – Saturday Sept 12
Don’t let the name fool you; although the marquee event is the 100-mile trail race, the Haliburton Forest Ultra has something for everyone from a 12-km right up to a 50-miler. Run entirely in an enormous privately owned forest, this popular late-summer race has everything from twisting singletrack and smooth logging roads to steep, long climbs. Haliburton will be a race of attrition for most people because of the remote and rugged nature of the course. Finishing any of these races will be the crowning achievement of your season.
Ultra-Trail Harricana Du Canada, Quebec – Saturday Sept 19
In a relatively short time the organizers behind UTHC have created a world-beating series that looks and feels like the big ultra races of Europe. Racing point to point through the Charlevoix mountains above the St. Lawrence River will challenge even the most decorated of trail athletes. Easily the most challenging east of the Rockies, the 125-km event gains almost 4000 metres during its course through a largely untouched Quebec wilderness. You’ll have to make sure you don’t miss any hill days during your build-up for this amazing race.
5Peaks Trail Series – Various Locations & Dates
The 5Peaks series is the place to start if you’re curious about trail racing in the Greater Toronto Area. This six-race series showcases some of the best-kept trails in the Greenbelt. And 5Peaks is a well-oiled machine, with corresponding races in BC, Alberta, Sask, and Quebec. Races are often in conservation areas (including Rattlesnake Point and Heart Lake) and the race range is more conservative, with the main event in the 10–12km range. This is not to say they will be easy – often these short races have as much as 500 metres of climbing, so come prepared.