Man on a Mission: Devin Featherstone

In the Alberta trail and ultra running circuit the elite runners are often coy and shy to a fault about admitting they actually want to win a race. Devin Featherstone is the exception. The well-built firefighter from Calgary didn’t mince words when I chatted with him about his recent course record victory at the Lost Soul 100k in Lethbridge, Alberta in 11 hrs 9 minutes 12 seconds. “I wanted to finally win a race after a number of second place and top five finishes. I wanted to go out with the lead group and go for the win.” Featherstone stated. Featherstone was seeking redemption after two failed attempts at finishing the Lost Soul 100k, an approximately 50k looped course that winds its way through endless rolling hills (known locally as ‘coulees’) in the Oldman River valley. The race also has 50k and 100 mile distance races.

Featherstone said his strategy was to try to hang with perennial favourite Carl Pryce for as long as possible during the race. He was able to do that and more as he broke away from Pryce and lead female Alissa St. Laurent during the second half of the race (St. Laurent eclipsed the old female course record by approximately two hours!). Featherstone used his previous experiences on the course to his advantage as well as recruiting an experienced ultra runner crewman to ensure he stayed fueled and hydrated throughout the race. He said his crewman was also able to provide him updates on the other runners, which kept his mind firmly focused on going for the win. While chatting with Featherstone his intense focus broke only when I asked him about what the other lead runners thought when 100 miler winner Dave Proctor finished the first 50k lap in 5:21, usually a winning time for the 50k race. He chuckles and says Pryce turned to him and asked whether that guy (Proctor) knew he was in the 100 mile race (Proctor won in 21:26).

When asked about whether he ever contemplated beating Oleg Tabelev’s 2012 course record of 11:19, Featherstone says that prior to the race he felt sub-11 hours was possible, although he wouldn’t have mentioned that goal to anyone. During the race he said it was completely out of his mind until he came up over the final hill with about 200m to go and realized he was almost 10 minutes below the course record.

What’s next for Featherstone after his course record and mission of redemption at Lost Soul 100k? He boldly says that he and a partner will take on the course record the TransRockies Heli Run and then he’ll compete in the highly competitive Grizzly Ultra in Canmore, Alberta. Well, if one thing is certain, you won’t see Featherstone backing down against anyone in these and any future races.

Full results and further information about Lost Soul Ultra is available here:

~Author Jonathan Schmidt is the administrator and founder of Trail Running Canada. He recently got dusted by Featherstone at a Five Peaks race in Canmore, Alberta. 


Be a trail kid: Meet the East’s from the west

At the 5Peaks trail race in Sundre, Alberta I caught up with three young trail runners for a lesson in trail running and in life.

The first thought that came to mind when talking to these three kids, whose ages tallied together are still less than mine, was “if I knew then what I know now”. From their mentality, training, to their diet- these kids are doing it right. Immediately you know they come from a loving home and have an inseparable bond. Chances are, if you’ve been at a trail race in Central Alberta you’ve seen them around, but it would have to be before or after the race as they are fast!

Isabelle East is the oldest of the three at 11 years old going on 26 with her composed and patient manner. You would never have guessed that just before the interview she had run the hot and humid Enduro event- 11km with 1000 feet of elevation gain and loss.

This also goes for her little sister, Iris, who we had a hard time chasing down and keeping still for an interview! At six years old, Iris had just run about as many kilometers as she is old and is so little she said, to her, “the roots were like hurdles” during the race.

Between the two is their brother Ian, he sports a fast looking Mohawk but it is his running that is truly fast. At the age of 10 he is currently in the running to take the win as the overall point leader in the 5Peaks Central Alberta Sport division heading into the final race this September 14th.

During this interview I got a look back at my own childhood and was reminded of the important things in life:

Cal: So guys where are you going to school?

Isabelle: We are all home schooled.

Ian: Yeah, so we have more time to run!

Cal: Well I’m sure your teacher says otherwise! What sports, other than trail running, do you like to participate in?

Iris: I like bouncing on a trampoline and did you know that 10 minutes of trampoline is better than a one kilometer run?

Isabelle: I like volleyball, horse-riding, rugby, and gymnastics.

Cal: I did not know that about the trampoline and will have to try it sometime. Those are some well-rounded sports you like. How do you have enough energy to run these distances?

Ian: We are on the Paleo diet, so lots of vegetables and no grain, milk, or sugar.

Iris: Yeah, lots of vegetables [as she pushes out her belly] and the best part is the cake!

Isabelle: Paleo cake! The biggest thing about the diet is no sugar but we have recipes to avoid it and still taste really good.

Ian: One of our favorite meals is burgers, without the bun, and yam fries.

Cal: Wow, so you guys are eating really healthy and have a lot of variation to stay active. What are some tips you have for racing?

Ian: It’s important to warm up the body before the race with an easy jog. I also like to do some stretches when I first wake up if I feel anything that is tight.

Iris: I like this stretch [as her foot crosses to the other knee and she stretches her hip flexor] and I also like to run with my mom during the race.

Isabelle: It’s important to drink lots of water, and during the race I always try to smile and encourage others, it makes them feel better and it makes you feel better too.

Ian: Yeah, smiling releases chemicals in your brain!

Cal: Great tips- listen to your body, warm up, stay hydrated, and be positive! How about role models? Who do you look up to?

Isabelle/Iris: Our brother [as they give him a big hug and his face lights up]

Ian: Our favorite runner is Bernard Onsare, he won the Calgary Marathon the past two years, and he helps people.

Cal: It sounds like you guys help people too. Tell me about the “MitoCanada” shirts you have on?


Iris and fellow trail runner BFF Jasmine. Photo by Neil Zeller Photography courtesy of 5 Peaks.

Iris: We are on Team MitoCanada

Isabelle: We help with 5Peaks and other events. The founder (of MitoCanada) ,Blaine, has a son named Evan who has a disease called Mitochondrial disease. Everyone has mitochondria in their body but anyone can suddenly have them shut down and affect different parts of your body- some people only get it in their legs, or their arms, but Evan got it all over.

Ian: So they started MitoCanada to raise awareness and try to raise money for a cure. Evan was struck overnight, they had to take him to the hospital and he can’t talk anymore, or use his arms or legs, and couldn’t eat. We have met Evan three times.

Iris: Ian asked for money to be donated to the charity on his birthday. It’s a really good cause if you are looking for something to do. You can sign up for it. You can go online to and you can get a t-shirt like us.

Cal: Wow guys, good for you, that is amazing and such a good organization to be part of. Good luck with the rest of the season. Do you have anything else you would like to add?

Iris: Yeah, run hard and get off the road! That means you!

Isabelle recently placed 3rd in the women’s overall 10km “Run at the Ranch” and Ian led the 5km from start to finish taking the overall win! Iris ran with her mom, Rosemary, who likes to keep things fun and interesting for the kids- recently she adapted a card game to play while running short loops with the entire family, trading cards as they run into or pass each other to get the best hand.

~Author Calum Neff is The North Face Trail Ambassador for Alberta and member of the national mountain running team. He recently competed for Team Canada in Poland at the World Mountain Running Championships where the Canadian men placed 10th.


Trail Roundup Sept 8.13

There were lots of exciting races this past weekend, including Lost Soul Ultra in Lethbridge, AB; Haliburton Trail Races in Ontario, but none was more exhilarating than the 29th World Mountain Running Championships in Krynica-Zdrój, Poland.

 World Mountain Running Championships

The Canadian men were lead by savvy veteran Kris Swanson who took 36th overall after running a technically sound race from start to finish. Swanson was followed shortly by 2013 Canadian mountain running champion  David Le Porho.  Rounding out the team scoring for Canada was Jeff Gosselin and Mark Vollmer coming into the finishing shoot 68th and 69th respectively as well as strong finishes by our other two athletes Sean Chester and Calum Neff to help pull Team Canada past other countries in the team event.

In the end Canada found themselves in 10th overall, marking the first time ever since the events inception that a Canadian squad had a top 10 finish.

Not to be outdone, the Canadian women showed as much grit as our men’s squad. Lead by some great running by Megan Franks and Sarah Bergeron Larouche both placing in the top 50 and Melanie Nadeau (Bromont, QC) and Shannon Penway coming to the finish line one after the other in 56th and 57th, the women’s team took an impressive 12th overall in the team event.

We should all be very proud of the way the Canadians ran and from all of us here at Trail Running Canada thank you representing our country with such grace and humor, it really did look like a great time! For more information about the race, the athletes and the great organization that pulls it all together, head over to

Lost Soul Ultra, Lethbridge, AB

Another exciting race on tap over the weekend was the every popular Lost Soul Ultra. Dave Protcor’s first 100 miler turned out to be quite memorable. Dave was on course record time for most of the day, but with about 10 miles to go his pace slowed a bit over the last sections and missed the CR by around 30 min, finishing in 21:26. Not bad for a first try at a 100 miler.

 Also running her first official 100 mile race was Canadian expatriate Bernadette Benson. Benson said she ran her first Ultra at the 50km Lost Soul in 2007, since then she’s gone on to lots of trail running success, including representing Canada and Australia internationally, which included running 216km during the World Championships 24 hr race. When asked her why she chose Lost Soul as her first 100 mile race she said it came down to the fact that it is really well organized and a ‘coming home’ or sorts, since it was the place of her first ultra in 2007 while she was living in Calgary. After taking the women’s overall title in 23:21 she said the race went quite well for her, except towards the end she had troubles running the downhills because of her blisters in her left foot.  The 100km race found two new course record as winner were Devin Featherstone blazed to a time of 11:09 and the female champion Alissa St laurent (Cdn Death Race winner) came in second overall and two hours ahead of the previous women’s 100k course record, completing the course in 11:49.  50km male champion was Adam Kahtava in 5:08 and female champion was Arynne Tran with a time of 6:13. Congratulations to all the athletes that completed this amazing race. For full results and more information on the race go to

Haliburton Forest Trail Runs

One other race that captured the twittersphere on Saturday was the 20th Annual Haliburton Forest Trail Runs. This year’s 100 mile race featured last year’s champion John McAlister and 2011 runner up and 2013 Sulpher Springs 100 mile Champion Dale Draaistra. The race up front did not disappoint with both runners having to push each other hard early and keeping a tight reign on each other while trying to maintain composure on a tough course. After the halfway point McAlister was forced to stop due to medical reasons and Dale continued on to take the win in 18:36. This is also the 4th fastest time in course history!hali1
Well on her way to become a household name in the running community is Laura Perry. After dominating the women’s race, Laura secured her second straight victory at an Ontario premier 100 mile race and continues to prove that Crossfitters can race!  Typical of her strong personality, she stated in her blog that during the end stages of the race she thought
“Run when you can, and use it! I tried to push wherever I could, I gave it 120% at this point.  I was emotional, but kept telling myself “you have worked so hard for this, don’t let anyone take it away”.  Corey and Pat were amazing, they kept me moving, kept me positive and helped me to believe in myself”

Very impressive indeed. Also on the slate for the day was the 50 mile race and the 50 km. The 50 mile race featured some fast and stubborn athletes alike and would be a race of attrition for some while leaving others hungry for more. We are still currently waiting for official results from the Haliburton forest for the 50 mile and 50 km races but when they are up they will be posted on the Ontario Ultra Series website at . A very outstanding weekend of racing, congratulations to everyone that raced!

There was an amazing trail race in almost every province this weekend. The North Face Harricana with four distances up to 65km took place in Quebec ( while the Mount Robson Marathon and half-marathon took place in some of British Columbia’s most beautiful scenery (

~Keith Iskiw is a trail and ultra runner from Kingston, Ontario. Find his blog at

Trail Roundup Sept 1.13

UTMB in France 

This was a significant weekend for the trail and ultra communities around the world. For much of the weekend the ultra running world had its eyes focused on the The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc or UTMB ( as it is commonly known. UTMB is a series of 4 races, finishing with the grandest of all, the 166km UTMB. It’s often dubbed as the most competitive 100 miler (or 160km) race in the world, with most of the world’s elite ultra runners tailoring their calendar and training for this one specific race. Elite Canadian ultra runner Gary Robbins also had his sights on UTMB, training specifically this past year for UTMB. Gary goal was to improve on his 53rd place finish in 2012, which came on the heals of recovering from two devastating injuries. Notable North Amercian elites included Anton Krupicka (’13 speedgoat 2nd), Timothy Olson (’12, ’13 western states champ), and Mike Foote in the men’s race and Rory Bosio in the women’s race.

The race began with it’s usual pomp and fair, which includes a big send off from Chamonix from thousands of spectators. However from the start Robbins ran into some trouble. His body didn’t feel quite right and after only 20km of the 166km course Gary had to shut it down. Unconfirmed twitter reports first mentioned something about feeling cold; however Gary later stated it was a stomach bug likely related to food poisoining. A true disappointment for Gary no doubt. However, after battling two injuries in previous years, Gary’s 2013 has not been without some enormous success, including 4th place at Ultra Trail Mount Fuji and wins at HURT 100 (new CR), Knee Knacker 50k and Diez Vista 50k. Congratulations on a tremendous year Gary!

The race was not unfortunate for all runners as both course records went down, with Xavier Thevenard (France) fighting off American Krupicka for most of the second half before he dropped due to injury and Rory Bosio (USA) handily beating out Nuria Picas for an epic victory and new course record by a large margin. There was some great coverage by, which is summarized here:

Meet Your Maker 50 Miler 

This year’s Meet Your Maker 50 Miler was billed as one of the most competitive fields for a 50 miler in Canada. Elite males included Adam Campbell (’13 Cdn Ultra Runner of the Year), Aaron Heidt (’13 TNF Cdn Death Race winner), Jason Loutitt (’12 HURT 100 winner), and Jeremy Clegg (whistler 50 winner). Elite females included Nadyia Fry (TransRockies 6 solo winner) and Abi Moore (’13 Sinister winner).

Yet despite the big Canadian names of ultra running toeing the line an unexpected winner emerged, Jakub Sumbera ( Many people haven’t been following Jakub’s progress, yet for those who know Jakub it likely wasn’t a huge surprise. From our understanding he lives in Invermere, BC running for Crazy Soles with teammate Nadyia Fry who has definitely made a huge mark on the ultra scene the past few years. Meanwhile Jakub has been picking his spots, winning some local trail races by serious margins (5 Peaks, Heiko’s, Nipika, etc.) and perhaps waiting for the big chance to break out. Well, today was his day. Jakub took the early lead in the race ahead of the big names and then never let go, even despite a valiant charge by Adam Campbell late in the race. Given the number of elite male ultra runners Jakub beat out, this is likely the most unexpected victory of the year in Canadian ultra running. In the women’s race Nadyia Fry is determined to not let anyone beat her in any race this year, pulling out another victory to add to her growing collection in 2013. Fry won the Calgary road marathon, then went down to Colorado and took on a strong group of American runners to win the TransRockies Run6 solo.

A big congratulations to all finishers and thanks to our support team for live-tweeting the race @trailrunningCan. Photo above: Fry (left) Sumbera (right).



Heiko’s Hellish Half – A Newbie’s Experience

This is first race I have ever done solo, and the second trail run I have ever participated in. The only other one was one leg of a trail relay. My cousin has cajoled me into this sport, and I am glad. The truth is that we “invented” it when we were 15, or at least thought we did, as we ran foolheartedly up and down trails and mountains. We ran down mountains with huge packs, falling and rebounding like teenagers can, and this race reminded me of those days, specifically because of the final descent, which folks had dutifully reminded me to save some energy for, thankfully.

The race day was gorgeous, just enough cloud cover to keep us cool, and the people at the checkpoints on the ridge tops were quite cold it seemed, there was gusting wind off and on, and I think the runners appreciated it. I sure did. The scenery was unbelievable, mountain spires towering overhead, beautiful waterfalls, and a huge variety of terrain.

Start of Heiko's

Start of Heiko’s

The race began after a 45 minute drive up a treacherous mountain road. The group of us racers were chatting excitedly while listening to music on the bus. There were 46 racers who finished, in times ranging from 2.5 hours to 6 hours plus.

We got started right at 8am, I ran with the lead pack of runners, quickly realizing I wouldn’t keep up, I backed off and settled into a pace that seemed my own, and started to get into the zone. This being my first long distance mountain run, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The first ascent was quite steep, so I went slowly. There were beautiful waterfalls, ladders and lush rainforest sections. It was a great and intense introduction. Once we were over the first ascent, we were into a gorgeous meadow that was relatively flat, but still the uphill battle continued. It was less steep but there was no rest for the weary. The scenery continued to be amazing through Bisaro Canyon, where there was a cave that had been visited so often, the trail seemed to beckon us in, the runners who were nearby also thought the trail went inside or through, but we saw the pink flags taking us the other way.

Heiko's Trail

Heiko’s Trail

The flagging, it should be noted, was great, and having never been on the trail, I only wandered one time, and it was only a few feet past where I should have gone. The organizers should be commended for this. The flags were small, and simple, but clearly laid out and very helpful. After Bisaro Canyon, we hiked to Three Sisters Pass, which was the first of three passes, and came with an epic shale trail. I was gratified to get there and took a little break in preparation for some decent descent. After this little rest and a gel, I ran down towards fairy meadows which is appropriately named. It would be easy to see any of the Lord Of The Rings scenes filmed here, or Narnia, or any beautiful fantasy film. It is easily one of the most beautiful places I have been to, and I am a native of BC who has spent my life doing various mountain related activities, despite this being my first foray into the trail running scene.

The second pass we came to was also quite exciting, I think because it seemed like such a milestone, I felt like I could do it, now that I had come this far. And again the downhill section that followed was such a nice break from the constant uphill climbing, my legs were beginning to notice. The checkpoints were also better stocked than advertised, which was encouraging. I had enough with me for the whole race, but I was glad there was a bit of water in case we needed it. During the middle section, I kept on coming around different corners and looking up at steep rocky pitches thinking ‘where on earth do we go from here?’ which was kind of fun, and then the path would go on these really unexpected routes, through the trees, on the edge of the cliff, it was great. When I finally got to the top of Mt Fernie, it almost surprised me, but there he was, the last checkpoint guy, eating a can of beans and calling me in the radio, perched atop the three foot wide ridge

Epic scenery along Heiko's

Epic scenery along Heiko’s

overlooking the Elk Valley. I took a short break, asked how long it should take me to get down, he said 40-60 minutes is average, and then texted my wife and told her I would be more than an hour 🙂

But this, this is the fun part. If I like trail running, it’s for the downhill part. I already could feel slight blisters forming on my heels, but I also knew if I was going to pass anyone, this was the time and place, so I went. I went hard. In the last descent, we drop a full 1000 metres of elevation over a mere 3KM. I loved it. My knees didn’t, but as long as I kept bouncing down the mountain it was ok. When I tried to stop, that was the hard part. The second hard part was that after spending all of my energy on this downhill grind which really was excellent and fun, I still had about 1.5 km of nearly flat ground to run on, and my gas tank was pretty empty. But

View from Mt. Fernie

View from Mt. Fernie

I finished, and I loved it. I finished with a guy I had passed, who caught up to me on this flat ending, and we chatted a bit about how beaten we were, and it was great. My cousin always tells me that one of the great things about trail running is the cameraderie, and it’s true. Now I feel a bond with anyone who has done anything like this, because you can’t understand by reading an article or looking at pictures, you have to taste and see what it’s like. Eat the dirt, breathe the dust, smell the waterfall and feel the crushing descent in your legs and then when it’s all over, know that you will have to do it again.

~David Pasivirta lives in Fernie, BC. He is slowly admitting that he’s a trail runner. More photos are available here:

Heidt’s Recap of 2013 Death Race Victory

I like to plan. I’m a planner by profession. A list maker. A lover of Excel spreadsheets. When I prepare for an ‘A’ race, I develop a detailed training plan. I track everything. I try out many different shoes and fuels to find the items that work for me. I memorize the course, the aid station locations, the food available and I provide my crew (wife, 5-year old son, and 2-year old daughter) with detailed directions on where to be, when to be there, what to bring, how to lay it out and what cues to give me. I know what parts of the course I am going to attack and which sections I will hold back on.

So when my wife, Lisa, asked me the night before the race how much climbing the race had and I replied “probably about 12,000ft – you can usually count on 1,000ft for every 10km” she was shocked – “You don’t know???” “No” was my reply, “I didn’t check. But I think the two major climbs are about 5,000 ft. a piece and the rest of the course is flat so I doubt it is over 12,000ft.” (It’s actually 17,000 ft.). Lisa’s expression indicated that she was not confident that I was ready. If I was being honest, neither was I.

Back in April I broke my right knee. As far as breaks go it was pretty tame. A vertical fracture of the patella. Stable. Clean. No surgery required. But it was not part of the plan. The injury fall occurred on the very run in which I was congratulating myself on being in such great early season shape. The break resulted in a week of painful hobbling, a May of road cycling, and a June of finding my running legs again. July is what remained for training. For me, psychologically, the only way to deal with the injury was to put all racing plans aside and to just try and regain fitness. When I did mention the possibility of still racing – to friends, family, or my physiotherapist, who I was seeing weekly – eyebrows were raised.

As a result, I had not committed in my mind to racing the Canadian Death Race until the week before. The night before, I still didn’t feel very committed. I actually thought seriously about not starting.

But the wonderful thing about running and racing is how simple it is and how, after some time at it, your body and mind know the routine. As soon as the gun went off, I was racing. I wasn’t thinking about my knee. I wasn’t thinking about my lack of preparation or lack of confidence. I was just racing.

I break my ultra-racing results into two categories: (1) “managing” races and (2) “racing” races. Managing races are the norm. These are the races where your quads start going on you early and you need to baby them to the finish line. The races where your stomach isn’t accepting the fuel you’re providing it and you’re trying desperately to figure out how to get calories. The races where the heat is causing full body shut down or the altitude is giving you a crushing headache. In managing races the predominant thoughts are about managing your body to get to the finish line. I like these races. I enjoy the challenge and the problem solving. I learn a lot about how my body works and what my physiological weaknesses are. I even manage to gain the occasional podium in these races. But I certainly don’t love them. They are not why I run ultras.

heidt02-webI run ultras because I love the feeling of racing: Of my mind asking more of my body and my body responding, the feeling of strength despite the feeling of fatigue. I love when the determination of achieving a goal pushes pain and fatigue to the very back of my mind – present, but not dominant. Racing races are where the predominant thoughts are about racing: splits, speed, competitors, and course records. For me, these races might happen once a year. Maybe. But they are a powerful sensation and once a year is enough to come back for more. Race after race.

For the Canadian Death Race, all indicators pointed to a managing race: lack of logistical preparation, short training block, unconditioned quads, etc. etc. etc.

When I’m asked what leads to a racing race – What conditions? What preparation? What training? My answer is always that if I knew I would do it every time. Of course, it is slightly simpler than this: good conditions, lots of preparation, and a large base of race specific training all increase the likelihood of a racing race. The real science is in figuring out the intricacies of these components. Or so I thought.

To be fair, the conditions at this year’s Canadian Death Race were pretty great for me. It started relatively cool and clouded over. The course was wet but puddles that could swallow a horse or small car are apparently standard for this race. As it started to heat up I was descending off of leg 2, Grande Mountain, and as if on cue the thunder clouds started to roll in as I started leg 3. Apparently, there was a crazy storm on top of Flood and Grande Mountain. The 95% of racers that were still on these mountains were hiding under bushes as hail pelted them mercilessly from above. The insanely steep “trails” to get off the mountain were turned into mud luges. For me it was a pleasant summer shower along a beautifully wooded valley trail, and by the time I started climbing Mount Hamel – the crux of the course – the sun had come back out and the mountain weather was very pleasant. So, I was lucky on the weather front.

In terms of race preparation and fitness – things were definitely more questionable. Yet, despite this, as the race progressed and I continued to ask more of my body it diligently responded. This course has some gnarly sections – they call it the “Course from Hell” for a reason. Leg 2 has some of the steepest ascents and descents I have ever seen in a race. Leg 4 has one of the longest ascents and definitely the most jarring descent I’ve ever ran. Leg 5 is one of the most unrelenting finishes I’ve ever experienced. It is all overgrown and it is all wet. The course also has lots of flat non-technical running that requires real focus to cover quickly and efficiently. Despite this my body didn’t break down during the entire race and was willing to climb harder and push the descents faster, and I managed to clock 5min/km on all of the flat sections of the course. In the end, I crossed the finish line in 12 hours and 30 minutes. More impressive, I could still walk the next day and within 2 days, I was hiking in the Rockies with my family. None of the indicators pointed toward this.

I’m not really sure why the Canadian Death Race ended up being a racing race and it definitely makes me less certain about how to prepare myself in the future for my next race. I can guarantee, however, that it will keep me coming back for more. Race after race.

Aaron Heidt won the 125km 2013 The North Face Canadian Death Race in 12:30, only 15 minutes off Rickey Gates’ 2011 course record.

Andy Reed – Leadville 100 Preview

TRC caught up with Andy Reed of Canmore, AB (’13 Fernie Ultra 80k winner) via email before he tackles the Leadville 100 miler on Saturday. Here’s some of his thoughts. 

We have been down in Leadville for a week. My wife just finished the Transrockies Run3, so this has been good prep being down here at altitude. I’ve done some reconnassance on the course so it’s been valuable being here. Hiked up Hope Pass on Wednesday – amazing trail and good to see what is in store!

The week before I climbed Grand Teton twice in 2 days so a couple of days just below 14,000ft was great for acclimatization. The whole family camped out at 10,500ft on the moraines below the Grand, so that was also great.

I slept at close to 4000m for 3 weeks prior to heading down here in the Hypoxico tent.Does it work? Hard to know but in the past I have performed poorly at altitude whilst climbing, and the one other time I used a tent, before the Leadville MTB race a few years back, I had zero issues. The tent certainly has a negative effect initially on feelings of wellbeing. I felt sluggish, dehydrated and generally lacked much “oomph” for the first week or so, but fortunately I was tapering, so I wasn’t too concerned about poor training.

TRC: Any particular goal going into Leadville 100?

Always hard to know, especially as I haven’t done this run before, but my lofty goal is a sub-20 hour finish. Failing this, I  just want to get round, but as your readers will know, in a 100mile foot race, a lot can happen. Weather, nutrition and hydration, altitude and injury could all have a big impact.

TRC: shows you’ve only run 1 other 100 miler, any particular reason for choosing Leadville?

I did the MTB race a few years back – the one that Lance won (!!) – and the atmosphere and organization was stellar. It’s obviously one of the big 100s to complete in North America, and attracts some big names. It’s great to toe the line with guys like Jurek, Sandes, Clark and Sharman. In addition there’s a lot of history here, the town is a great place to hang out, and the trails that I’ve seen are fantastic.

TRC: What do you anticipate will be the hardest parts of the course, given the terrain and course surface is so diverse?

A lot of people aren’t looking forward to the double on Hope Pass, but for me I think the climb up onto the Colorado trail right after Hope inward will be hard. As well, the trail along Turquoise Lake coming at mile 87, in the dark, could be awkward given that it’s somewhat technical single track.

TRC: You won the Fernie Ultra 50 miler and set a new FKT on Canmore’s 4 Peaks – you must have a fair amount of confidence going into Leadville, any chance of trying to stay with some of the guys at the front (minus maybe Sandes and Jurek)?

There’s a big difference between the 50 miler in Fernie, the Canmore 4 peaks and a 100 miler at 10,000ft plus. Obviously I’m feeling like my race prep has been good, but I am under no illusion that this is a very different beast!

Hanging with the front guys? My experienced pacer Wade Jarvis tells me there will be a fast lead pack of about 25 guys. He also tells me half of these will drop! I will stick with this group if the pace is right, but it’s clearly important to run your own race. No point in blowing up the quads in a surge of adrenaline in the first quarter of the race!

Thanks again Jonathan!

Good luck Andy! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. ~JS

Editor’s note: Andy Reed successfully completed the 2013 Leadville 100 in 21 hrs and 30 minutes for 24th place in a very stacked field of runners. Congratulations Andy!

New Editors for Trail Running Canada eMag



July 30, 2013

Greetings Trail Running Canada readers and followers!

Gary Robbins and his partner Linda Barton will be taking over the chief Editor / Publisher duties of Trail Running Canada’s digital magazine (eMag). They will provide new leadership and energy at this time of rapid growth in the sport in Canada. Gary and Linda will work to ensure the continued growth of the eMag as well as the long-term growth of Trail Running Canada as your primary online source for trail running in Canada.

Gary and Linda are both very qualified trail runners, having completed over 100 ultras and marathons between the two of them and have a rich passion for the Canadian trail running community. In addition, Gary’s international experience as an elite ultra runner will be a definite asset to growing and developing the eMag and profiling Canadian trail running nationally and internationally.

You can look forward to the next Trail Running Canada eMag in Fall ’13.

Trail Running Canada is also launching a new Facebook page ( The Facebook group will be gradually transitioned to the new Facebook page. This will enable readers to get instant, updated information without having to wait to join a group page.

You may not know you can also follow us on Twitter @trailrunningCan. Gary and Linda will be spearheading initiatives to live tweet many of Canada’s biggest trail races. With their leadership we successfully live tweeted from the KneeKnacker 50k race and will be live-tweeting from The North Face Canadian Death Race Aug 2-4, so follow hashtag #TNFCDR or @trailrunningCan for updates.


Jonathan Schmidt

Trail Running Canada Administrator / Founder


First Ever Fernie Ultra a Success

The first ever Wild Mountain Fernie Ultra Solo and Relay 80k by TransRockies Events is now in the books. It took place on Saturday June 29th in Fernie, B.C. featuring approximately 56 solo runners and 13 teams. Fernie, B.C. is typically known as a Mecca for mountain bike enthusiasts, yet until the Fernie Ultra there wasn’t a marquee ultra trail race in the town. TransRockies saw the potential to use the wide network of incredible single-track trails to create this new 80km relay or solo ultra race. The race is broken into 6 legs, with the first 3 being west of the highway around Island Lake Lodge and legs 4,5 and 6 on the east side of the highway with a finish line downtown Fernie. The majority of the race was single-track with some double-track and logging roads mixed-in to ensure adequate connections to the single-track network.

The race began from Fernie Alpine Resort with a frantic pace as many solo runners kept pace with the lead relay teams. Then after a bit of jostling for position upfront, as many as 12 of the lead runners missed a turn and went approximately 4km off-course. Seeking to make up missed time a number of solo runners put the hammer down to make up the time, unfortunately this and a tougher than expected course,  contributed to a number of DNFs later in the race. Considering all the wet weather lately, the day was sunny and hot. Afternoon temperatures crept up near 30 C and also took a toll on many runners.

The open men’s race upfront was dominated by Fernie local Mike Moore and Canmore’s Andy Reed. Fighting from behind the whole race, Reed said he managed to pass Moore in the final 1500m of the race with the finish line almost within sight. Moore came in only 37 seconds behind Reed. The two finishing in 9:20:08 ana 9:20:45 respectively. Speaking with Reed after the race, he said the course was “Very very tough. Definitely tougher than Iron Legs (an 80k trail race in Kananaskis, AB).” Reed mentioned he was ramping up for the Leadville 100 miler in a few weeks. A great tune-up indeed. Another local Bob Maudie completed the grueling course in third place only 24 minutes later.

In the women’s race two locals battled it out upfront with Terry Paterson toping Lucy Eykamp by 39 minutes in a very quick time of 10:22:51. Calgarian Sheila Nykwist took third place in 12:32:27.

In the team events Strides Running Store  Bow Valley Harriers took the open men’s category, with the Trail Running Canada team coming in second followed by Cochrane’s Rec Runners with a biking problem. Open Women’s category was won by Fernie’s Valley Vixen’s followed by another local team Happy Feet and then the North Idaho Running Club. Open mixed category was won by the Hodge-Podgers followed by Muffin Tops and Crazy Soles.

Congratulations to all finishers, especially Martin Parnell of Cochrane who finished with less than 10 minutes to spare! Parnell is raising money for Right-to-Play through his TransRockies Quest 888, learn more here:

Overall, the first ever Wild Mountain Fernie Ultra was a success. Organizers mentioned they were surprised with how tough the course was as witnessed by the lead runners being approximately an hour later than they expected at the finish line. The only noticable complaint was course-flagging; however organizers said they were aware of the issue and will correct the issue for future races. With beautiful scenery, amazing trails, top competition, good organization and solo and relay options this race definitely has staying power in the Rocky Mountain trail and ultra scene. The 50 miler (80km) distance is a favourite for many ultra runners and this race should have even more uptake in the future. Full results are available here:







Canadian Mountain Running Championships 2013 Recap

What are the characteristics of a successful trail running event ?

  • A solid organization (generous volunteers, race director, sponsors, etc)

  • A lot of energized and smiling folks

  • A good ambience

  • A fun and challenging course

  • Welcoming facilities

  • Enjoyment for everybody (kids, beginners, experts)

Bring all this together and you have the 2013 edition of the XTrail Asics held at Mont Sutton, Quebec. This year was the fifth edition of the series. Yes, the XTrail Asics is a series of 2 races, one at Mont Sutton and the other one at Mont Orford, Quebec, on October 19th.

To celebrate this fifth year, the XTrail Asics was chosen to host the Canadian Mountain Running Championships. It was the first time that the competition was held in the eastern part of Canada.


21 K
The first race of the day to start was the 21K. The favourite to win the race was, of course, Viktor Alexis, who has won the race all four times he’s entered the race. He did, indeed, win the race in a time of 2 hours 6 minutes. 3 minutes and 24 seconds before Benoit Simard from Prévost, Quebec.

On the women side, Annie Brongel won with a time of 2 hours and 46 minutes followed by Nathalie Gérard 2 hours 48 minutes.

10 K (Canadian Mountain Running Championships)
All eyes were on this race with big names coming into it : David Le Porho, Alister Gardner, Jeff Gosselin, Calum Neff from Alberta and Kristopher Swanson from BC.

Before the race, Alister Gardner told me he would bet on David Le Porho for the win and he was right. David, after a quick start, pushed hard on the first big climb to make sure he was first in the single-track section. His strategy worked fine and he finished with a time of 1 hour 1 minute and 49 seconds. Despite the hot weather, he improved his time from 2012 by 6 minutes.

The other qualified racers for the 29th World Mountain Running Championships are Jeff Gosselin (1:03:22) from Quebec, Kristopher Swanson (1:04:09) from BC, Calum Neff (1:06:00) from Alberta and Alister Gardner (1:06:27) from Quebec.

On the women side, the race was close. Finishing in 1 hour 18 minutes and 32 seconds was Meggan Franck, followed by Sarah Bergeron-Larouche (1:19:52) and Shannon Penway in the third (1:20:26).

10 K (not the Canadian Championship)
There was also another 10 K competition but not counting for the Canadian Championship. Since many registered for that race, as many as 3 waves of runners were launched.

Men winners were: Alexandre Sauvageau (1:13:27), Luc Turcotte (1:20:33) and Mathieu Plante (1:21:45).
Women winners were: Joelle Hudon (1:25:19), Julie Rioux (1:28:26) and Isabelle Lambert (1:32:41).

6.5 K
Finally, there was also 3 waves of runners for the 6.5 K race.

Men winners were: Antoine Hébert (31:55), Mathieu Girard (33:39) and Jérome Comptois-Urbain (34:31).
Women winners were: Vanessa Antkiw (38:59), Delphine Duvernay (40:53) and Claudia Poulin (41:54).

Note that this race was also in conjunction with the Canadian Junior Championship. Mathieu Ladouceur won the race (32:02) followed by Julien Lamoureux (33:16) and Christopher Gagné (34:54).

1 K (for kids from 4 to 12 years old)
Winners: all kids who participated!

I didn’t even race on that day but I had a lot of fun meeting old and new friends. XTrails are now a classic here in Quebec and I hope it will continue for a long time.  Events like those have an impact on the community and people far beyond competition and time.

Thanks XTrail Asics!

21 k

10 k (Canadian Mountain Running Championships)

10 K (Second Wave)

10 K (Third Wave)

the-north-face-logo-sq By/Par Maxime Lagacé, The North Face Trail Running Ambassador 2013 for Quebec & East

Interview with David Le Porho

Photo left: David with XTrail Asics race director Nicolas Taillefer. Photo right: David in the lead.

By/Par Maxime Lagacé, The North Face Trail Running Ambassador 2013 for Quebec & East

David Le Porho is a name most people in the running and trail running community from Quebec have heard before. For those who haven’t, here’s a couple of quick facts about him. In 2007 he traveled the world to run a marathon on each continent; he was the World Snowshoe Champion in 2011 and 2012; he has a marathon PR around 2:25; in 2012 he participated in the World Running Championships in Italy and lately; and most recently he won the 2013 Canadian Mountain Running Championships held in Mont Sutton Quebec.

This list of accomplishments could go on forever. However, what’s truly great and significant about David, in my opinion, is his freshness, smile and generosity. (And I think most people who know him would agree).

Despite his busy schedule of work/family/training (note that he’s actually training for a PR at marathon distance next June and he told me he’s been logging 180k/week recently), he had the kindness to answer of couple of questions about his life, training and goals. Note that I translated the interview from French. L’entrevue en français suit.

What were your first contacts in trail running ?

In 2009, after a good progression ‘performance wise’ on the road, I wanted to diversify my training and sport challenges. I profited from the trail running development in Quebec in order to develop an interest in this discipline. I stuck to daily training on the trails and I pushed myself on the XTrail Sutton 21K race for my first discovery run. The experience was incredible, I felt “free” and light, without the continual pressure of the timer.

For the short story, I arrived in first position, surprised myself, and the race director wasn’t even waiting at the finish line (yes, he beat even the race director). I asked myself if I really finished or not.

You immigrated to Quebec in 2004, what pushed you to this change ?

For multiple personal reasons, but I can say sport wise it has been the turning point. Before 2004, I was running regularly but not competitively. I’m not sure I would have invested myself in this discipline that much if I hadn’t immigrated to Quebec. There are multiple factors that intersected (other sportsmen, the training environment, the level of competition, the atmosphere at local races, etc.) and that gave me the motivation to become a dedicated trail runner.

 Do you think your plastic engineering education helps you for your running performances or it’s more your running training that helps you in your job ?

Whatever the professional activity practiced, a structured schedule is, in my case, the key to success. It helps me focus on my daily activities (diverse constraints and/or activities) and to practice them effectively.

Do you believe more in quality training (intervals, tempo) or quantity ? Can you give us an overview of a typical week training ?

Over the years, my approach changed. For the last 4 years, I practiced regular training with little quality and a volume near 90K/week. Today, quality became an essential part of my training plan whatever the target race distance. My weeks are generally around 120 to 160K with 2 intervals sessions (short and/or long) and one tempo session when I don’t have a competition. For longer competitions, I integrate long sessions on 2 to 3 consecutive days (40 to 50K/day).

 Do you have a word or a key phrase for tough moments during a race ?

“Let’s go I hold until the next station”

 In 2012, you arrived 83th at the World Mountain Running Championships in Italy. What did you learn with this experience?

Never trust Italian cooks 🙂 Jokes aside, the team experience was very rewarding. The organization of the championships was perfect and we were able to appreciate the atmosphere with a truly international connotation.
Sport and competition wise, a majority of Canadian and all American runners got sick a few days after the weekend of competition. It seems a bacteria was at the origin of all this (food poisoning).

On my side, I found myself without energy on race day and right from the beginning, I felt that it would be painful. I finished it for the team but I thought about abandoning a few times. That’s also part of the team experience!

 Will you be at the Canadian Mountain Running Championships in Mont Sutton ? If yes, what are your goals ?

Yes, I will participate with the goal of being selected again on the national team (a place in the top 5) who will participate at the NACAC in July and at the World Championships in September.

Also in 2012, you had a solid performance (5th) at the UROC 100k with runners like Max King, Sage Canaday, Ian Sharman. Do you think you’ll return this year ? If yes, will you change your preparation ?

No I will not return this year, I will focus on new races.

What are your goals for 2013 ?

I targeted 2 main goals:

Realize a big PR at the marathon distance at the end of the first part of the season (end of June in Duluth, Minnesota : grandma’s marathon)

Participate for the first time in a Ultra-Trail European (very well known) and finish on the podium (mid-October in Millau, France). Les Templiers (72K)

 Do you have a favorite runner ? Which one ?

I regularly follow the American runner Geoff Roes, almost same age, and which has a beautiful sport journey being an amateur-elite athlete!

If you could choose two trail running races anywhere in the world, which one would you choose and why ?

The choice if difficult, there are a lot and new ones each year!

The UTMF (in Japan) and the Transvulcania (Canaries Islands).

Do you have other dreams (related to running or not) ?

Yes, a lot, but more travel-hiking dreams…which are for now in preparation.

For those who want to know more about David, here’s a couple of good links:

Entrevue en FRANÇAIS/FRENCH Interview

 Quels ont été vos premiers contacts avec la course en sentier ?

En 2009, après avoir connu une belle progression au niveau de mes performances sur la route, je voulais diversifier mes entraînements et défis sportifs. J’ai profité du réel développement de la course en sentier au Québec pour m’intéresser à cette discipline. Je me suis tenu à un entrainement hebdomadaire sur les sentiers et je me suis lancé sur le 21K du X-Trail de Sutton pour ma première course de découverte. L’expérience a été incroyable, je me suis senti “allégé”, sans la pression continuelle du chrono.

 Pour la petite anecdote, je suis arrivé en première position, à ma grande surprise d’ailleurs, et l’organisation ne m’attendait pas à l’arrivée… je me suis demandé si j’avais bien terminé 🙂

 Vous immigrer au Québec en 2004, qu’est-ce qui vous a poussé vers ce changement ?

Plusieurs raisons personnelles mais je peux dire qu’au niveau sportif, ça aura été le tournant. Avant 2004, je pratiquais la course à pied de façon régulière mais non compétitive. Je ne suis pas sûr que je me serais autant investi dans cette discipline si je n’étais pas venu m’installer au Québec. Il y a plusieurs facteurs qui se sont recoupés (les sportifs rencontrés, l’environnement d’entrainement, le niveau de compétition, l’ambiance des courses locales, etc.) et qui m’ont donné la motivation pour devenir un coureur assidu.

 Croyez-vous que votre formation d’ingénieur en plasturgie vous aide pour vos performances de courses ou c’est plutôt votre entrainement à la course qui vous aide dans votre métier ?

Peu importe l’activité professionnelle pratiquée, un emploi du temps structuré est, dans mon cas, la clef du succès. Il permet de garder le focus sur ses activités quotidiennes (diverses contraintes et/ou loisirs) et de les pratiquer efficacement. Je pense que j’aurais de la difficulté à garder une bonne rigueur à l’entrainement sans avoir une activité professionnelle à temps plein.

 Croyez-vous plus à l’entrainement de qualité (intervalles, tempo) ou de quantité ? Pouvez-vous nous donner un aperçu d’une semaine typique d’entrainement ?

Avec les années, mon approche a changé. Il y a encore 4 ans, je pratiquais un entrainement certes régulier mais avec peu de qualité et un volume proche de 90K/semaine.

Aujourd’hui, la qualité est devenue essentielle dans mon plan d’entrainement et ce peu importe la distance visée en compétition.

Mes semaines comprennent généralement un volume de 120 à 160K avec 2 séances d’intervalles (courts et/ou longs) et une sortie tempo quand je n’ai pas de compétition. Pour les compétitions de longue distance, j’intègre des longues sorties sur 2 à 3 jours consécutifs (40 à 50K/jour).

 Avez-vous un mot ou une phrase clé pour les moments difficiles d’une course ?

« Let’s go je tiens au moins jusqu’au prochain ravitaillement »

 En 2012, vous êtes arrivé 83 ième au Championnats Mondiaux de course en Montagne en Italy. Qu’avez-vous appris lors de cette expérience ?

Ne jamais faire confiance aux cuisiniers italiens :-). Blagues à part, l’expérience d’équipe a été très enrichissante. L’organisation de ces championnats était parfaite et nous avons tous pu profiter d’une ambiance avec une vraie connotation internationale.

Pour revenir sur le côté sportif et sur la compétition, la majeure partie de l’équipe canadienne ainsi que toute l’équipe américaine sont tombées malades qq jours après la fin de semaine de compétition. Il semblerait qu’une bactérie soit à l’origine de cela (intoxication alimentaire…).

 Pour ma part, je me suis retrouvé sans énergie le jour de la course et dés le départ j’ai senti que la course allait être pénible. Je l’ai terminée pour l’équipe mais j’ai songé à abandonner à plusieurs reprises. C’est aussi cela l’expérience d’équipe !

Serez-vous des prochains Championnats Canadien de course en montagne au Mont Sutton ? Si oui, quels sont vos objectifs ?

Oui, je vais y participer dans le but de me sélectionner à nouveau sur le team national (une place dans les 5 premiers) qui participera au NACAC (en juillet) et aux championnats du monde (en septembre).

 Toujours en 2012, vous avez offert une performance solide (5 ième) au UROC 100k avec des coureurs tel Max King, Sage Canaday, Ian Sharman. Croyez-vous y retourner cette année ? Si oui, changerez-vous votre préparation ?

Non je n’y retournerai pas cette année, je vais privilégier de nouvelles courses.

 Quel est ou quels sont vos objectifs pour 2013 ?

Je me suis fixé 2 gros objectifs :

Réaliser un gros PB sur marathon à la fin de la première partie de saison (fin juin à Duluth [Minnesota] : grandma’s marathon)

Participer pour la première fois à un ultra-trail européen (très connu) et réaliser un podium (mi-octobre à Millau [France] : Les Templiers (72K))

 Avez-vous un coureur préféré ? Lequel ou laquelle ?

Je suis régulièrement le coureur américain Goeff Roes, âgé presque comme moi, et qui a un beau parcours sportif d’athlète amateur-élite !

 Si vous pouviez choisir deux courses en sentier n’importe où dans le monde, lesquelles choissiriez-vous et pourquoi ?

Le choix est difficile, il y en a beaucoup et de nouvelles chaque année !

L’UTMF (au Japon)  et la Transvulcania (aux Canaries).

Avez-vous d’autres rêves (reliés à la course ou pas) ?

Oui, beaucoup, mais plus des rêves de voyage-randonnée… qui sont pour l’instant en préparation.

Pour ceux qui voudrait en savoir plus sur David, voici quelques liens intéressants

the-north-face-logo-sq By/Par Maxime Lagacé, The North Face Trail Running Ambassador 2013 for Quebec & East



May has flown by us here at Trail Running Canada so here is a brief collection of just a few of the races and stellar performances that Canadians put down.

The first weekend in the month of May saw a large group of Canadians head down to New York to contest the always popular The North Face Endurance Challenge. Consisting of 50 mile, 50 km and even ½ marathon distances, this race had something to offer everyone.
The 50 mile race was deep with talent. Jeff Gosselin of Quebec put a serious push on many of the contenders. After leading for parts of the race, his pace and the challenging course took its toll and Gosselin struggled a bit in the final miles of the race. Even with the challenges, Gosselin held on for 3rd place overall in an impressive time of 7:43.

Here is what Gosselin had to say about his race “I knew that leading for a while was a temporary thing despite the fact that I felt light and focused during that time. People told me it was a technical course and boy, I discovered it wasn’t false talk. I can say that I confirmed what I had heard about the good people in trail running. That goes with the fact that I had an awesome first experience at ultras and I met great people.” 

Rachel Paquette of Victoriaville, Quebec continued her strong season from last year to capture 3rd overall in the women division of the 50 mile race in a time of 9:59.16. After bursting on the scene Paquette continues to wow the competition as she rises to the occasion every race to challenge for the lead where ever she goes. This was a bit of a coming out party for the Quebec trail running community as the leader boards were littered the PQ . The 50 mile race had four Quebec racers in the top eight alone.
Congratulations to all that took on this event. To see all the results head over to the TNF Enurance Challenge website.

Next up was the Sulpher Springs Trail Races. Consisting of multiple distances on a loop course, many Ontario trail runners use this race as their spring goal race to start off their summer race season. To say that there are some runners in top form already would be an understatement. OUSER Series Coordinator Catherine Harding filled us in on the exciting action of the weekend.

“Sulphur Springs Trail Run, race number two in the Ontario Ultra and Trail Series, took place this past weekend in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area in Ancaster. Even though there had been a lot of rain earlier in the week, the trail was in great shape come race day to host the 1200 runners across the 10km, 25km, 50km, 50 and 100 mile race distances. With temperatures in the teens by mid-day, there were many smiling faces at the start line, as runners knew they had perfect weather for a day on the trails. Race Director Joe Hewitt will tell you that the course is easy, until you have to run it several times in a row. Sulphur is a 20km loop on very runnable single and double track through some of the most scenic trail around, with hills that undulate and seem to get bigger and longer with each pass. The weekend was a great success with an incredible 9 of 11 course records being broken (full results can be found on the OUS website).”

100 Mile – Dale Draaistra 15:37:24 Brantford, Laura Perry 18:57:59 Orleans
50 Mile – Michael Daigeaun 6:07:00 Philadelphia
50K – Adam Hill 3:45:39 Orillia
25K – Cleve Thorson 1:32:20 Guelph, Christina Clark 1:52:39 Guelph
10K – Nick Allen 36:51 Fergus, Julia Wesley-James 43:25 Dundas
100M Relay – Don’t Get Lost 1 11:24:43 Dundas

Congratulations to everyone who came out to support another OUS/OTS race and to Joe and his team on another amazing year! Next up is the Kingston 6 hour.

In the world of fastest known times (FKT), Canadian ex-pat Rob Krar took on the challenge of running the Grand Canyon’s rim to rim to rim and in the process set a new FKT. For those that are unfamiliar with the route it is a 46 mile run with over 11,000 feet of elevation gain from the South Rim to the North Rim, and back. His time of 6:21.47 is pretty impressive and he detailed the whole thing over at so follow the link and read about this amazing feat.

Last but not least, the Canadian Mountain Running Championships were held last weekend. For the first time ever the race was being contested in Quebec and the race did not disappoint. Already one of the most popular trail races in the country. The Xtrail Asics Mont Sutton was the perfect venue to host this year. A challenging course on an extremely hot day provided all with an exciting and fast paced race that showcased the depth of talent in Canada (and Quebec!) in the mountain running scene. With spots on the National team on the line the race was fast and relentless as the front runners pushed each other to the limit in the early stages as positions changed repeatedly throughout the race. In a time of 1:01 The Canadian National Championship was won by David Le Porho. Rounding out the top five that will represent Canada in Poland for the World Mountain Running Championship was Jeff Gooselin (2nd), Kristopher Swanson (3rd), Calum Neff (4th) and Alister Gardner (5th).

The women’s race saw first-time mountain running competitor Meggan Franks win her first Canadian Mountain Running title. Franks who is better known for her road racing abilities, won the race in a time of 1:18:32 ahead of Sarah Bergeron-Larouche (2nd) and 2012 national team member Shannon Penway (3rd). Congratulations to all the competitors that supported this amazing event and to race director Nicolas Taillefer and his volunteers for working so hard to make this event a success. For full results follow this link.

~Keith Iskiw is a trail and ultra runner from Kingston, Ontario. Find his blog at

Trail Roundup April 27.13

Gary Robbins has really come into his own as of late and put the international scene on noticed that he will be challenging for podium positions all season long. Robbins recent race success in North American spilled over into international success at hugely competitive Ultra Trail Mt. Fuji in Japan. The 161 km race follows trails that encircle the namesake mount challenges the athletes with 9000 meters of climbing and is no doubt one of the most beautiful courses in the world.

Robbins lined up against a huge contingent of international talent. Yoshikazu Hara, Julien Chorie, Sebastien Chaigneau, Brendan Davies just to name a few! Over the course of the day Robbins would stay with the lead pack, but eventually was overtaken by Chaigneau in the late stages of the race and settled into fourth place holding it right through till the end finishing in a time of 20 hours and 20 min. The race was truly difficult and Robbins had remarked that the course required a full skill set in order to compete within the top 10. Congratulations to everyone who challenged the course and we look forward to hearing more about Gary’s adventures abroad when he returns.

A little closer to home the Ontario Ultra Series got underway this weekend with the Pick Your Poison Trail Races held at The Heights of Horseshoe Ski Resort near Orilla Ontario. The day started a bit overcast for the races, which included a 12.5km, 25km and a 50km. It did little to dampen the spirits of the runners how were ready to tackle the burly course marked out by race director Adam Hill. It did not disappoint! Climbing approximately 360 meters per 12.5km loop, the runners were treated to all types of terrain and trail giving everyone an exceptional challenge to start the racing season.

The 12.5km race was won by Jeffrey Paul in a time of 55.47. Female winner Jennifer Faraone blazed the course in a time of 58.04 at taking third overall in the process. The 25km event turned out to be a track race in disguise with Mike Tickner edging out Alister Munro for the win in a time of 1:49. Alister chased the 5 times Ontario Trail Series champion and finished only 2.23 back.

The women’s race was just as exciting with the top three all coming in within seconds of each other! Chantal Warriner just barely crossed the finish line first in a time of 2.07.12 just 7 seconds ahead of second place finisher Andrea Zezelic. Leslie Mcarthur rounded out the podium in a time of 2.08.16. The 50km really challenged the runners with almost 1500 meters of climbing and it was easy to tell that the race would take its toll on the runners. With this being an early season race many were happy to get out on the trails and enjoy the challenging course. This would not be the case for winner Jeremy Walsh who took the lead early and pushed the pace right to the end in a time of 4.09. Sean Roper, who in recent years has been running more ultras to supplement his extensive adventure racing resume showed some early season form rolling over the course in a time of 4.20. Gino Dicarlo rounded out the podium in a time of 4.31. Lisa Van Wolde captured the women’s title in a time of 5.00 almost 9 minutes ahead of second place finisher Jennifer Larocque. Carley Kenwell placed third overall in the women’s category with a time of 5.23. Congratulations to all the runners that came out to the race.

Upcoming Events:

Next in the Ontario Ultra Series is the Sulpher Springs Trail Runs which will be held on May 25, 2013 for further information about the race follow this LINK

Buckin’ Hell, the next race in the new Coast Mountain Trail Series is fast approaching. Held on May 18th, 2013 this race has a cool format and challenging courses so don’t miss out. Please follow this LINK for further information about the race and the series.

~Keith Iskiw is a trail and ultra runner from Kingston, Ontario. Find his blog at

Trail Roundup April 6.13

Gary Robbins is an unstoppable beast right now. After toiling much of last season with injury Gary has found much of the form from previous years and then some.

With a load of talented Canadians pushing the pace early at the Diez Vista 50km, Robbins pulled ahead and really poured it on towards the latter half of the race, taking the win and setting a new course record in a time of 4:06. Colin Miller and Dave Cleveland, both talented racers in their own right, could do little to keep up with the torrid pace that Robbins put down and took 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

The female race was a bit closer with Suzanne Evans edging out Lisa Polizzi by a mere 6 min in a time of 5:04 over the challenging 50 km course. The North Face Ambassador Stacey Cleveland rounded out the podium taking 3rd overall in a time of 5:12.

While the elites hammered the trails at Diez, others were taking to the trail for the first time with the Run the North Shore crew. The 6th annual My First Trail Race is a 5km and 10km race held at the beautiful Lower Seymour Conversation Reserve in North Vancouver. The 10km overall was a race of the sexes with the males just barely taking the overall win. Joel Payers’ 44:37 was only 21 seconds faster than the women’s overall winner Shannon Penway. The race was close right through the top 10 races with 5+ minutes between 1st and 10th.

The 5km race was won overall by Patrick Jones in a time of 21:21. Female race winner Mikaila Brown won in a time of 25:45 and also place third overall. If this race is any indication of the pool of runners coming up in the ranks of our trail community its going to be an exciting season of racing this year!

Congratulations to all who raced this weekend.

News of Interest:

The second race of the Coast Mountain Trail Series had to be cancelled. The next race in the series is now the Buckin’ Hell Race being held at Mount Seymour on May 18th. This is what was posted on the CMTS Facebook page about the cancellation:

Unfortunate news; unforeseen and unpreventable circumstances have led to the postponement of next weekend’s Survival Of The Fittest trail race in Squamish. All registered runners should have received an email from us. We are working diligently to lock down an alternate date and apologize for this inconvenience. Your patience and understanding is appreciated. We’ll update our social media pages once we can clarify our next move. Again we greatly apologize for this and are working diligently towards an immediate solution. 

For further information about the race series and the next race in the series the Buckin’ Hell please follow this LINK

Reminder that the deadline for the first race in the Ontario Ultra Series is fast approaching. The Pick Your Poison Trail Races is a great race and a awesome chance to test your spring fitness and get your hands on some honey and the best logoed shirt in the series. For further information about registration of the race in general please follow this LINK

~Keith Iskiw is a trail and ultra runner from Kingston, Ontario. Find his blog at

Dirty Feet Fun for All

By Stacey Cleveland

The North Face Dirty Feet trail half marathon in Kamloops, BC may not be your fastest race, but it could be one of the prettiest. Weaving its way through the low-lying sagebrush and tall grasses typical of the BC Interior, the course is a well-marked maze of buff single- and double-track trails with a roller coaster like feel to it.

While the climbs are punishing, the rewards for making it to the top are plentiful. Expansive views of the city’s north shore and long, “cruise-y” descents that will make you want to raise your hands above your head and yell “weee…” all the way down. (Shrieking and arm flailing may also be a result of hitting the slippery downhill sections with a bit too much speed.)

In addition to the half marathon, runners also have the option to do 10 km or 5 km. For the second consecutive year, all distances were sold out. Not bad for an event only in its third year. Part of the reason for the series’ popularity could be the fact that the organizers, Phil and Grace Hiom, are accomplished – and still active – racers themselves and know what runners (and volunteers) require to have a good time.

The North Face Dirty Feet Trail Series is designed to provide a fun, safe environment for people to run on trails,” says Phil. “We strive to provide a fun but challenging course that is well marked however the race experience does not stop there.”

With a grassroots, community-centric feel to their events, participants know they’ll be looked after with well-stocked aid stations, enthusiastic volunteers, delicious post-race grub (the homemade banana bread alone is worth the entry fee) and a mountain of draw prizes from very generous sponsors.

The Kamloops event is the first trail race in the The North Face Dirty Feet Series, which includes snowshoe fun runs, mountain bike endurance races, mountain running and, new this year, ultramarathon trail running. All races take place in BC’s Thompson-Okanagan region.

For more information about The North Face Dirty Feet Series, check out their website or find them on Facebook.

Photo caption: Aaron Heidt (#229) of Vernon, BC was the overall winner in 1:24. The North Face Trail Ambassador for BC Stacey Cleveland (#238) of Penticton, BC won the women’s race in 1:41.

Trail Roundup March 30.13

Lately, there has been a lot of hype made of the Barkley Marathons. A recent article in the New York Times about the Barkley has much of the endurance community a-buzz. Given the race’s unique history; only 12 racers have even finished the race, no woman has finished the race, and according to official records no Canadian has either – one would have to be pretty confident standing at the starting line of this race!

Even with an attrition rate like that, a few hardy souls from Ontario went down to try their luck at the race that eats their own. It gave them all they could handle and then some. Catherine Harding and Jeff Ashizawa challenged the 100 mile race in the backcountry of Tennessee and both came away with an experience of a lifetime. Catherine shared a few of her thoughts with Trail Running Canada:

The Barkley truly is a race filled with misinformation and I’d have it no other way. I have dreamed of “running” the Barkley for 5 years. Oddly it is one of the 1st ultra trail races I had ever heard of. Considering it is one of the most elusive races, this to me was a sign that it was meant for me. From the get-go you have to really want it. There is leg work to be done. One wants to apply and then dreads hitting the send button. Then waits anxiously to hear something … anything! When I found out my fate had been sealed I decided to keep quiet about it…and still don’t say much about my process or what it’s all about. I guess you could say I’m a purist in that sense. The Barkley and it’s history are things I am protective of, even long before I had the opportunity to try it for myself. How exactly DO you train for something only 14 people (and no woman) have ever finished in a 25 year race history? On land you aren’t allowed to train on because it lies outside of permissible park boundaries or comes too close to a U.S. Federal prison. On a course that has NO aid, isn’t marked, no definite start time, unpredictable weather, and with a cast of characters you don’t know until you arrive in camp on the prescribed weekend. You talk to others, you read, you look at pictures…but are any of them accurate? My strategy was to get time on my feet and learn how to climb hills. I didn’t run long distances like I would for a “normal” 100 miler. I also didn’t really take my navigation skills to new heights. I figured I’d be ok with knowing how to set my compass and study the map I’d received a few weeks after getting word that I was “in”. Now that I’ve experienced the Barkley I can say that everything I thought was true was not necessarily so…or was it?

Both Jeff and Catherine were unsuccessful at completing the full course, but will no doubt be back to challenge this remarkable race and never hear Taps played for them again!

Upcoming Race Reminders:

The TREK Series (Trail Races of the East Kootenays) will soon to be under way and registration is now open for the six race series. The Series showcases the best that the East Kootenays has to offer so don’t miss out! For more information on the series and the races please follow this LINK

The Ontario Ultra Series is set to get underway with the Pick Your Poison Trail Races less than a month away.  This notoriously hard race is a great way to gauge your spring fitness. With four different race distances there is no reason to miss out on what is surely becoming a spring classic.  For further information about the race and registration follow this LINK.

~Keith Iskiw is a trail and ultra runner from Kingston, Ontario. Find his blog at

Trail Roundup March 23.13

This weekend was kicked off by the first ever trail race in the Coast Mountain Trail Series. The inaugural Cap Crusher trail races, which are composed of 8 km and 13 km distances. The races gave participants all they could handle and then some. Billed as “the hardest 8km in the country”, its hard to think that some people felt that 8km wasn’t enough! It was very exciting to hear all the positive feedback around the new series and the races did not disappoint. The 8km race was won by Karl Woll in a time of 40 min. Female champion Chesa Absit-Moois took second overall, with a stellar time of 44 min. Both showed great speed and determination over a very challenging course. Well done to all that took on the Cap Crusher 8 km.

Cap Crusher Trail Race

For those that thought that 8km was not enough, the race directors added a 13km race into the mix and the race was jammed at the front of the pack.

On the mens side, Mike Murphy edged out 2nd & 3rd place finishers Adam Campbell and Jonathan Heinz in a time of 59 min. Murphy took the win while leading for most of the race. To give you an idea of how close it was, Murphy beat third place by only two minutes!

Not to be outdone, the women’s race featured an even closer finish at the end with Meredith Cole edging out Darnelle Moore and Chole Gendron for the win. Moore and Gendron appear to have tied for second place only 1 minute back from Cole. I was told this was a very finish to witness. Well done ladies!

Race Directors Gary Robbins and Geoff Langford should be very proud of this first race in the series. Trail Running Canada managed to get a hold of Gary Robbins and this is what he had to say about the event:2013-CMTS-Cap-Crusher-TR-2

“Geoff Langford and I hosted the very first race in The Coast Mountain Trail Series on Saturday March 23rd and given our rather late launch we could not have been more impressed with our turnout. We certainly benefited from a beautiful spring day and runner feedback has been resoundingly positive. Comments have ranged from ‘a new local classic’ to ‘I just can’t put my finger on it but the vibe was amazing’. What more can a RD [race director] ask for than that!? Personally, the highlight of the day for me was seeing a 71 year old grandmother cross the finish line with her two grand daughters in tow, oh yeah, and it was her first ever trail race!”

Congratulations Gary and Geoff for a job well done! The next race in the series is the Survival of the Fittest on April 13, 2013. A 13K loop packs in plenty of highlights, elevation and classic Squamish trails. To register for the event please follow this LINK.

Held on Sunday March 24th, the sold out, The North Face Dirty Feet Trail went off with much fanfare and excitement. The first installment of the popular race series held in beautiful Kamloops, BC and numerous race distances to choose from, everyone was sure to have a chance to hit the trails and enjoy a solid challenge.

In the 5km race the male champion, Jon Shepard took the win in a time of 22:11. Female champion Kathleen Wright scorched the course putting up a blistering 22:00. In the 10km race Andrew Savage took the win in a time of 41:10 and Karla Stevens held off a strong effort from Elise Desjardine to take the win for the females in a time of 53:17. The 21km race was easily won by both Aaron Heidt and Stacey Cleveland (our The North Face Trail Ambassador for BC) both winning their races by over 10 minutes. Excellent early season form for these two tough racers. To find out more about the The North Face Dirty Feet 2013 Trail Running & Ultra Series
please follow this LINK.

Congratulations to all that raced this weekend!

~Keith Iskiw is a trail and ultra runner from Kingston, Ontario. Find his blog at

Trail Roundup March 16.13

All eyes this weekend were on the Chuckanut 50km trail race. With this being the first race of the year with a deep field of North America’s finest endurance athletes it was sure to be a good gauge of where the elites are in the build up to the summer racing season.

It did not disappoint.

David Laney, Max King and Maxwell Ferguson all came in under 3:50 to take the podium positions. Canadian Ed McCarthy’s 3:55 was good enough for 6th overall in a very stacked field. Gary Robbins finished 11th overall in a time of 4:02.

The female race was very impressive with a new course record (CR) by Jodee Adams-Moore in a blistering time of 4:01.22. Mel Bos seems intent on solidifying herself as one of Canada’s top female ultra runners, finishing 6th and posting a 11min personal best (PB) on the course. With the likes of international female stars Alicia Shay, Devon Yanko and Cassie Scallon all toeing the line, Mel showed she has the speed to compete at the highest level. Canadian trail running is looking great for 2013. Congratulations to all who raced.

The Coast Mountain Trail Series is about to get underway this coming weekend with what is being billed as The Toughest 8 km Trail Race In Canada! The Cap Crusher which takes in the spectacular trails in and around Capilano Canyon, with 1600+ feet of ascent and descent is sure to be a challenging event. The first in the four race series gets underway on Saturday March 23rd and you can choose to run either the 8km or the newly added 13 km race. For further information on the races in the Coast Mountain Trail Series follow this LINK.

Another reminder that for the first time ever the Canadian Mountain Running Championships are being held in Quebec. The Mont Sutton Championship race needs support from all racers in the east, as well as the west in order to be successful. This means signing up to race in the championship event or even run in the citizen race and support the most popular trail race in Canada! As of this writing 700+ people have risen to the challenge across the 4 disciplines, 274 in the 11.8km championship race alone. So what are you waiting for? For race information and registration please follow this LINK, I hope to see you there.

Orange ThunderColumbia Freeze Degree Crew has been my go to shirt for snowshoe racing this season. Combined with a long sleeve shirt the Freeze Degree had everything I was looking for in a shirt for high paced efforts like snowshoe racing. What made it stand out in my mind firstly was the fact that it was a soft and comfortable fit, not exactly athletic but pretty close.

The crew combines most of the best technologies that Columbia has produced to keep you dry, cool and protected from the elements-OMNI-Wick along the back and OMNI-Freeze around the arms and torso of the shirt does a great job pulling sweat away from the body and keeping you dry. While using this shirt in the winter this helped keep me from holding on to excess sweat on my body that could freeze as my paced increased.  Overall I have been very pleased with the shirt thus far and I am looking forward to using it for its intended use in the spring very soon.

~Keith Iskiw is a trail and ultra runner from Kingston, Ontario. Find his blog at

Trail Roundup March 9.13

Big news this week for west coast trail runners! Gary Robbins announced there will be a brand new trail running series. The Coast Mountain Trail Series will consist of 4 trail races ranging from 8km to 25km. These will not be for the faint of heart though. The races all have exceptional levels of elevation gain and will be challenging even to the most experienced trail racers.

Gary had this to say about the new series:

Geoff Langford and I who are behind the Arc’teryx Squamish50 couldn’t be happier to present a new, short distance trail running series. We’re considering it ‘ultra running light’ as the races aren’t tailored towards completely new trail runners but rather very challenging short distance trail events. We have some exciting projects in the works for 2014 and beyond and hoping to be attempting some formats that are completely new to the local racing scene

One of the most intriguing races is called Buckin’ Hell. The format is a bit different from the tradition trail race affair. With mass uphill attacks, then a break in the action, followed by a seeded downhill race to the bottom. Solo or relay choices for those that find one of these two choices a bit out of their ‘wheel house’. There is plenty to like about this twist in the regular race format.

One other note to point out is regarding the shortest of the races in the series. The Cap Crusher at 8km is easily the burliest looking of the whole series. Robbins agrees by concluding

We are confidently calling our first race, an 8k trail race, the toughest 8k in Canada.

With 1500+ feet of ascent in only 8km, it’s safe to say that there are few races that can compete with that.

One race to note from this past weekend, the Dirty Duo trail and mountain bike races were held on Saturday March 9.  The multi-format race allows competitors a myriad of options with running races ranging from 15km to 50km, and solo and relay mountain bike & run off road duathalons.  Held near Vancouver, BC the Dirty Duo races are great to gauge your winter fitness or to simply get out and enjoy a beautiful day of “crushing it”. Congratulations to all finishers, including 50k run winner Matt Cecill, 25k run winner Liam Harrap, 15k run winner Maxime Malard and female winners Eron Chorney in the 15k, Sarah Carter 25k winner, and Nicola Gildersleeve in the 50k. For all the results of the Dirty Duo follow this LINK.

Orange ThunderColumbia Freeze Degree Crew has been my go to shirt for snowshoe racing this season. Combined with a long sleeve shirt the Freeze Degree had everything I was looking for in a shirt for high paced efforts like snowshoe racing. What made it stand out in my mind firstly was the fact that it was a soft and comfortable fit, not exactly athletic but pretty close.

The crew combines most of the best technologies that Columbia has produced to keep you dry, cool and protected from the elements-OMNI-Wick along the back and OMNI-Freeze around the arms and torso of the shirt does a great job pulling sweat away from the body and keeping you dry. While using this shirt in the winter this helped keep me from holding on to excess sweat on my body that could freeze as my paced increased.  Overall I have been very pleased with the shirt thus far and I am looking forward to using it for its intended use in the spring very soon.

~Keith Iskiw is a trail and ultra runner from Kingston, Ontario. Find his blog at

Winter Ultra Insanity: Actif Epica in Manitoba

Actif Epica is a fairly new event on the Canadian Winter Ultra Scene, in its second year of existence and is the brainstorm of Ian Hall, a
bicycle racing phenomenon and Dwayne Sandall, Manitoba’s Ultra and trail runner and race director extraordinaire. They came together last year to put together this little endurance challenge to celebrate winter in southern Manitoba. The race is for cyclists and runners alike who are up to the challenge to complete some of the most potentially hostile terrain and conditions on the prairies. A 130km journey commencing in St. Malo and ending at the Forks in Downtown Winnipeg, with stops in St. Pierre Jolys, Otterburne, Niverville, St. Adolphe, the floodway and the University of Manitoba Campus. Due tBob-and-Blake-webo the altering of the course with a potentially unsafe river trek the course was reduced to a “more reasonable” 118km.

The spirit of the racers, organizers, volunteers and the communities that you forage through are second to none. I ha
ve never felt more part of an event before as I did with this one. From the pre-race gear check, safety talk, and gathering the night before, to the unbelievable support along the course, and the reception at the finish line, this was one very organized and well organized event. The organizers, support crews (course medic Tom Kolesnik and safety crews including Alex Mann, John Ford, Lindsay Gauld) and volunteers were involved from the start of the race until the last 2 runners (which I was one of) crossed the finish line almost 22 hours later. Organizing and running an event like this is a passion, and this crew has it in spades.

Actif Epica is going to continue to get better and I expect the event will get larger and larger with its affiliation with these two great winter ultras and the creation of the Order of the Hrimthurs. Those who complete the Tuscobia Winter Ultra Marathon (150), Arrowhead Ultra (135) and Actif Epica in one season, we will confer The Order of the Hrimthurs. If you are looking for that little bit of extra challenge this might just be for you. Hope to see you next year. Here is a video of the event put together by Tom Kolesnik which I encourage you to watch it will give you a understanding of some of the conditions that the racers went through.



Bob Nicol is The North Face Trail Ambassador for Saskatchewan / Manitoba. You can follow his blog here: