Here are 40 in-person and fun outdoor events taking place in Canada this fall
Road, trail, bike and adventure races await
Although it is moving slowly, in-person events are happening and they are happening right across the country. Sure, many have some new rules, whether it is start times, congregating after races, masks, or vaccines. But they are happening. And that's a fantastic thing.
So, we thought we'd showcase as many as we can for our adventure and racing-loving community including a few featured events from some of our favourites.
The return to in-person running events is imminent. And it is hard to imagine a more gorgeous and fun race with which to celebrate than the Canmore Rocky Mountain Half Marathon, 10K and 5K.
This well-organized and family-friendly race is celebrating 25 years of racing along the Bow River with a full day of racing scheduled for Sept. 12.
“It feels great to be back in person this year! Last year was supposed to be our 25th-annual race, and having to postpone that celebration was obviously disappointing,” says race director Jamie Carrick. “We have certainly missed our runners, and this year is sure to be a blast as we mark a big anniversary for the race. We can't wait until race day on Sept. 12.”
New this year to celebrate the 25 annual event is a Kids Race, which will be free to enter.
The Half Marathon course is a combination of asphalt and high-quality gravel with several short climbs and winding paths and features a gradual incline and then decline of roughly 45m through the last half of the course.
The beautiful 10k course is appropriate for both beginners and expert runners/walkers. Beginning in the middle of historic Canmore the10km loop will bring runners through town and out along the Bow River, revealing stunning views of Ha Ling Peak and the Three Sisters.
“Canmore is a beautiful place! Everyone loves running in the mountains, and runners visit from far and wide to run our course along the Bow River, through downtown, and in the beautiful woodlands of the Bow Valley,” he says. “The 10K and 5K distances, in particular, are favourites as they are fast and flat, encouraging many runners to push for a personal best finish.”
This year will mark the 25th year of the Canmore Rocky Mountain Half Marathon. The race has grown significantly since the inaugural year of the event, but it has kept its community feel, and its charitable focus. This year the race will introduce a new charitable partner in the Embrace International Foundation, a Canmore-based non-profit that strives to help children living with disabilities thrive in a more just, loving, and accessible world.
Although Carrick says it’s been a challenging year-plus for everyone, including those who organize these races, he is predicting a strong bounceback.
“I think runners will come out in full force to participate in person once again,” he says. “As this will be an outdoor event, and with vaccination rates in Canada growing every day, we anticipate a quick return to our usual levels of participation. I think many people are starved for events and fun.”
If a race with stunning views, minimal elevation, great support, and fun, with an outstanding charity attached is what you are ready to tackle this September, be sure to register online.
High-quality road races are few and far between in Ontario this fall. Options south of the border are off the table, while most others are sold-out or have limited options. Enter the exciting and absolutely new event the Georgina Marathon and Half-Marathon.
This race, scheduled for Oct. 17 and located one hour north of Toronto, is new this year and is a well-organized and scenic half-marathon and marathon along the shores of Lake Simcoe. The race is a Boston Marathon qualifier, certified by Athletics Canada, and measured by Peter Pimm.
“Once we started moving into stage three (of Ontario’s pandemic reopening plan) we said, alright, let's kick this off again,” says Sandie Orlando, a co-founder of the event along with Cindy Lewis-Caballero. “And we just started to fast-track everything. It’s exciting.”
The first year will see both a half-marathon and marathon option, and the event can have as many as 1,000 runners. The course winds along a very flat lakeside drive with cottages on one side and the lake on the other. And, there are plenty of places along the route for spectators to come and cheer without having to congregate in one setting.
Both of the race organizers have athletic backgrounds especially as coaches in the multi-sport world. And the new event was inspired by the desire for more opportunities to race in person and give athletes something for which to train and strive.
“We thought, why don't we just see if we can put something together and see if we can make this happen,” Lewis-Caballero says. “So that's really the inspiration. We just wanted to give our athletes something to work towards as well as every other runner out there who has nothing and is getting a little tired of virtual stuff.”
The Georgina area is popular with cyclists and is nice and flat, which should present an opportunity for some great times for those hoping to qualify for Boston. For others, it is a fantastic first half-marathon experience, with a gorgeous and fast course.
Those who have taken up running this year, planning for a fall half-marathon right now will add some oomph to training plans. It’s all about setting goals and reaching them.
“We did a couple of small race simulation days up there to explore around a little more, and see what people thought about it. And you know, everybody just loves it,” Orlando says. “It's a really beautiful community. It’s quite small, but it's well suited to athletes going up and sharing the space.”
Of course, there will be COVID-19 measures in place, so it might not be a typical marathon experience, but it is something and it is something that will grow into, Orlando hopes, one of the premier races in the Greater Toronto Area.
“This year, it’s a little bit more intimate and a more grassroots experience,” Lewis-Caballero says. “But it's a race that we're planning to do each year, and grow to become one of the popular ones on the race scene going forward.”
For more information about the race head to the website.
The Summit 700 trail running event is an epic one-of-a-kind race up, down, and along the gorgeous Niagara Escarpment at the Blue Mountain resort in Ontario. And it’s back for the first time since the pandemic and slated for Sept. 25 and 26.
The Summit 700 is a 5K, 10K, or 21K on some of the finest trails one could find with 700 feet of ascents on the escarpment, rock hopping, creek crossing, and sublime forest running. And it’s conveniently located at the resort overflowing with amenities for post-race fun including restaurants and plenty of outdoor patios and an array of accommodations if participants want to make a weekend of it.
“Our venue is probably the most unique thing being at Blue Mountain because it's such a cool atmosphere in the village and the hill,” says Bob Miller, Summit 700’s race director. “It’s a really fun atmosphere, but then we're also on the Niagara Escarpment with those stunning views over Georgian Bay. Every time I'm up there looking out over the bay, it's like, geez, you don't get views like this almost anywhere in the world with this big escarpment over the big body of water.”
Miller is stoked to have the event back and got a taste of the excitement last weekend at a smaller event.
“Racers were super pumped to be back and all the organizers were super excited to be hosting them again,” he says. “It's almost surreal that we can finally do it again after all the uncertainty.”
There will be some changes. Everything happens outside under tents, staggered starts at Blue’s south base lodge, masking rules, and things like that. But it’s outdoors, it’s with the trail running community, and it’s all good on the stunning trails the resort has developed over the years.
“Blue has invested quite a bit in their trail network over the last like 10 years, and they’re really good,” Miller says. “There's like cool steps, you know, made out of rocks and stuff like that.”
The race has been growing in popularity quite rapidly since it began a few years back taking over from the North Face Endurance Challenge and has found a perfect niche in the local trail running scene. Summit 700 draws many participants from the surrounding area around Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, and Owen Sound as well as the majority who head up from the Greater Toronto Area on race day or for the weekend.
The race is capped at 750 participants this season due to COVID-19 regulations, and it is already on its way to selling out so do not delay.
For more information on the race or to register head to the Summit 700 website. See you out there.
One of Canada’s most exciting and popular adventure races is back in operation this year and would-be participants are already lining up to get a crack at the Mind Over Mountain Adventure Race (MOMAR) set for Sept. 25 in Cumberland, BC.
Race director, Bryan Tasaka, is happy to be back with a physical event in 2021, and by the response thus far, so is the adventure racing-loving public.
“We are thrilled that the MOMAR can go ahead for 2021,” he says. “It was disappointing that we had to cancel last year and we weren’t very optimistic that this year was going to happen either.”
Adventure racing got a bona fide shot in the arm when the Eco-Challenge returned a couple of years back, but with the pandemic, it was hard to solidify that new fan base. But, MOMAR is already nearing a sell-out, so something is clearly working.
“Based on the registration response, we do feel that everyone is eager to return to racing, and being that the MOMAR is held outdoors and participants are naturally spaced out, I think everyone will feel comfortable,” Tasaka says. “We have over 650 people signed up and we’ll cap the race when we hit 700.”
That doesn’t leave a lot of time for those looking to get in on the action in 2021, but this race is on a lot of adventure racer bucket lists.
The race has been around for 21 years, and this will be the 41st event. It all started in the Cowichan Valley with one race and 44 racers, Tasaka explains.
“I think we had more volunteers than racers,” he says. “So much has changed but the essence of the event — challenging race, unknown adventure, and killer after-party — has remained true to the first event. We’ve held races in Squamish, Sechelt, Ucluelet, Ladysmith, Shawnigan Lake, Burnaby, Lake Cowichan, and Duncan but the Cumberland venue can’t be beaten and that’s a big reason we’ve been there for 20 years in a row.”
Tasaka describes Cumberland as an adventure racer’s dream destination, which is filled with world-class singletrack, breath-taking terrain, all set in a cozy historic mining town.
The event features a 30-km sport course, which Tasaka says is very achievable for most (as long as you don’t get lost), and a 50-km enduro that will push the fittest athletes to their limits. The Enduro course features approximately 10K of paddling, 25K of mountain biking, and 15K of trekking. The Sport course is 30K with approximately 5K of paddling, 15K of mountain biking, and 10K of trekking.
“The MOMAR is a very unique experience that has adventure mixed with competitiveness on a challenging course. The event is really fun too and most teams are just out there to finish,” Tasaka says.
“Each stage of the race — mountain biking, trail running, orienteering, and paddling — could stand on its own as a race,” he adds. “Also our awards dinner and after-party are legendary for the buffet and the dance party.”
This year, Tasaka is working on a new map for the orienteering stage and the transition zones will also change. It’s part of the fun of organizing an adventure race that the route changes every year, and returning teams won’t know where they will be going until 90 minutes for the race.
“The unknown is a big part of the adventure so we always strive to keep it fresh,” he says.
For more information on the race or to register, go to Mindovermountain.com.
Sept. 1/19 Scotiabank Calgary Marathon
Join in the excitement with the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon race month — a hybrid event in 2021. Participants will be able to choose between an in-person event on Sept. 19 or run the virtual race experience any time between September 1 to 30. All participants can fundraise for any of our 80+ charities through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge.
Sept. 6, Island Lake Classic, Orangeville, ON
9th annual Island Lake Classic 10K & 5K starts and ends in picturesque Island Lake Conservation Area, in the Town of Mono, next door to Orangeville. Groomed trails and bridges crossing the lake guarantee an enjoyable event.
Sept. 12, Banff Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K
Dubbed the most beautiful run on the planet, the Banff Marathon, Half Marathon, and 10K offer one of the planet’s most incredible and beautiful running experiences, all in Canada's first National Park.
Sept. 12, First Race Back, Barrie, ON
This 5KM road race will follow along Barrie's scenic waterfront trail on Kempenfelt Bay (Lake Simcoe). The First Race Back 5K course is flat, fast and the perfect place to set a new PB. It's also a beautiful course.
Sept. 12, Constantine Yorkville Run, Toronto, ON
The Constantine Yorkville Run is a premium 5K event with in-person and virtual options, in support of 35+ small, local charities! In its 11 years, the run has fundraised over $3.2M for charities, and in 2021, the run aims to fundraise $1,000,000!
Sept. 12, Dinosaur Valley Half Marathon, Drumheller, Alta
This half marathon course has been certified by Athletics Canada. The route has been altered slightly from 2015 to make it more intuitive. The course is mostly flat with a few small hills and a scenic 1 km gravel loop in the middle. It will be well marked and well marshalled.
Sept. 25, Melissa's Park Road Race, Banff, Alta
The Tradition Continues — Melissa’s Park Road Race is one of Canada’s most historic and popular running events featuring a 5k, 10k, and a half-marathon on sensationally scenic routes in and around Banff National Park.
Oct. 2, Le Marathon P'tit Train du Nord, Saint-Jérôme, Quebec
Unique in the marathon world, point-to-point, and surrounded by nature! THE Fall rendezvous for the most experienced elite marathon runners as well as for amateur runners. Forty-two kilometers you will never forget.
Oct. 9-10, Valley Harvest Marathon, Wolfville, NS
The Valley Harvest Marathon is a signature event in the Valley during the Thanksgiving weekend now in its 29th year! How natural to have a Harvest Marathon during thanksgiving weekend in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia - heart of agriculture, apple capital, and winery centre of Atlantic Canada. Distance options: 5K, 10K, half-marathon, marathon and ultramarathon.
Oct. 16, Frightening 5K and Terrifying 10K, Hamilton, ON
Come celebrate Halloween with an in-person Halloween Race, 5K and 10K distance options are available. Everyone who participates in the in-person event will get a post-race breakfast from the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club. Prizes for the best three Halloween costumes!
Sept. 4-5 Survival of the Fittest, Squamish, BC
There is an 18K and a 35K option. A fantastic loop from the incredibly scenic Quest University lands in Squamish, BC. A sustained climb off the start will bring you to a waterfall within the first few kilometers. As you continue to ascend the views become ever more impressive as you gaze across the valley at the dominant Tantalus Mountain Range. Once you top out on The Climb Trail you'll have predominantly sweet singletrack all the way home.
Sept. 11 Run the Rocks, Frank, Alta
A race like no other! This isn't a traditional cross-country run; it combines running with scrambling, and maybe even a little parkour. Depending on your route, the course is approximately 5km.
Sept. 11 Trail Fix Relay, Caledon, ON
Trail Fix is a 100km trail run relay for teams of four or five, featuring four unique race stages winding through mixed-terrain trail systems. The course is hosted within the 1,200-acre Albion Hills Conservation Area.
Sept. 11, Haliburton Forest Trail Race, Haliburton, ON
The race has grown steadily since its inception and once again offers a choice of 12K, 26K, 50K, 50 mile, and of course, our signature event, the Haliburton Forest 100 Miler. The race takes place in the privately owned Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve Ltd.
Sept. 18 Freaky Creeky, Vernon, BC
Welcome to the Freaky Creeky 50 with four distances to choose from 11km, 27km, 50km & 100km. The trail running race is located in beautiful Okanagan’s Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park, located virtually at the back door of the City of Vernon. This trail running event takes you through grassland dotted with ponderosa pine and groves of Douglas-fir, amazing lake views, and km after km of single-track trail.
Sept. 25, Castle Alpine Trail Race, Pincher Creek, Alta
Get into fall running mode and enjoy the Castle Mountain Resort Area. Castle is a secluded gem of a place that everyone should make an effort to visit. Castle Alpine Trail Race (let's call it CAT, OK?) combines wide-open vistas, rugged single track, off-trail running, and so much delicious climbing. While it isn't an extraordinarily long race distance-wise, CAT is like a schoolyard bully - it's going to rough you up and doesn't relent the whole day."
Sept. 24, Run Off-the-Grid, Mattawa, ON
Come be a part of Northern Ontario’s longest, toughest, and most remote trail run! Enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Laurentian Mountains in the peak of autumn colours. There are no roads and no pavement. The course is 100% trail and completely remote. It is you, your footsteps, and the quiet of the wilderness.
Sept 25, Shuswap Ultra, Salmon Arm, Alta
The Shuswap Ultra is a 10KM, 20KM & 60KM solo mountain trail event connecting the communities of Salmon Arm and Sicamous in the gorgeous Shuswap, British Columbia.
Oct. 2, The Rugged Raccoon Night Race, Wildwood Conservation Area, ON
The Rugged Raccoon Trail Race is a trail race held at Wildwood Conservation Area in St. Mary's, ON. There will be four race options: 5k, 10k, 25k daytime and 25k night time. Those participating in the 25k night race must have a headlamp (preferred) or flashlight.
Oct. 9, Sticks and Stones Trail Race, Hamilton, ON
All race distances will run a beautiful 5k-looped course around the lake at Christie Lake Conservation Area. The route is rolling, fast, and runnable with 5K, 10K, 25K, and 50K options. The trail surface consists primarily of dirt and is non-technical.
Oct. 16, Hook or Crook Ultra, Blairmore, Alta
Hook or Crook Ultra is hosted at Pass Powderkeg Ski Lodge in Blairmore. The course takes advantage of the long and diverse trail network in the surrounding area. You will get up into some alpine areas that are accessible, even in the snow (with some hard work).
Oct. 16-17, Squamish 50, Squamish, BC
The Squamish 50 races — 23K, 59K, 50 mile and more — are TOUGH, truly unforgettable trail running experiences. With our marquee 50 mile race boasting over 90% singletrack and more than 11,000 feet of climbing and descent, topped off by stunning sweeping vistas across glaciated snow-capped peaks that jut straight out of the Pacific Ocean, these courses are sure to take your breath away.
Oct. 23, The Bad Thing Trail Race, Huron County, ON
The Bad Thing trail race is the ONLY point to point trail race in Ontario. It takes place in Huron County, Ontario along the stunning Maitland Trail. The race ends at the Auburn Hall (heated building, yay!).
Oct. 30, Halloween Hustle, Hardwood Ski & Bike, ON
This fun and festive trail running event features a kid's race as well as an evening 5K, and 10K. Headlamps are mandatory. Prizes for best costume, Rally beer samples, and much more.
Oct. 30, Loop the Vedder Trail Run, Chilliwack, BC
Get off the road and hit the trails with this 10K and 21K race! This scenic course boasts a fast and flat gravel terrain and winding single-track sections. Set along the majestic Vedder River in Chilliwack, BC, this fantastic half marathon loop is set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Chilliwack River Valley and views of the Cascade Mountain Range.
Nov. 6, The Beav Trail Race, Milton, ON
Come join us for one of our most popular events: The Beav. Hilton Falls Conservation Area is known to have some of the best trails around. This course, with 10K, 25K, and 50K options, is primarily made up of fast, groomed trails with some short but tougher and more technical sections thrown into the mix.
Sept. 12, Cowichan Crusher Gravel Fondo, Vancouver Island, BC
The 4th Annual Cowichan Crusher Gravel Fondo will showcase the amazing scenery of Vancouver Island, BC, and specifically the Cowichan Valley.
Sept. 25, Kettle Mettle Dirty Fondo, North Vancouver, BC
One of the most amazing and scenic Gravel Fondo courses in all of North America. Kettle Mettle Klassic, three distances: 50km Medio Fondo, 100km Full Findo, 135km Full Fondo plus a two-day stage race.
Sept. 26, BCBR Gravel Explorer, Penticton, BC
The BCBR Gravel Race is about the spirit of adventure, a gravel grind with grit! In designing this route and picking this location the team at BCBR has set its sights on keeping all of the senses tingling with excitement at the chance to explore every nook and cranny available. Each course will be charted to be its own unique adventure, something outside of the ordinary! Lets see what a grave bike can do!!
Oct. 2, BC Bike Race, Penticton, BC
BC Bike Race, the 'Ultimate Single-track Experience' is a multi-day stage race that celebrates the culture of mountain biking and single-track trails. It is the unbidden yelp or whoop that echo's through the forest in exhilaration, it is the supreme glow of accomplishment as you cross that final finish line to which we are all heralded to the start line of an indomitable challenge. After 14 years the legendary BCBR has moved to the Okanagan to explore a different region of British Columbia - we couldn't be more excited to share this new amazing event with the world.
Oct. 2, Terra Fondo, Meteghan River, NS
New for 2021, the Terra Fondo is a mountain bike ride along the Rails-to-Trails multi-use system along with more challenging trails in the Acadian region of Clare. The 68 km route winds through beautiful mixed forests with river and lake views, historic sites, a farmers' market, and a scenic coastal section. Route support and rest stops will be provided.
Oct. 3, Bear Mountain Bike Race, Mission, BC
With an 11K short course, and a 23K long course, prepare to have your expectations blown out of the water as you traverse up some challenging climbs to be rewarded the opportunity to sail through the downhill trails on Bear and Red. Seeking out a speed thrill or tackling an obstacle for the first time, these mountains offer options for riders of all levels to test their skill.
Oct. 16 Sea 2 Sky Gravel Fondo, Squamish Valley, BC
The first edition of Sea 2 Sky Gravel Fondo will take place in the Squamish Valley and you will experience amazing mountain views, large rivers, creeks, and waterfalls as well as wide great gravel forest Service roads. Three distances, 25K, 50K and 100K.
Sept. 18, Swamp Donkey Adventure Race, Whiteshell Provincial Park, Manitoba
Unleash your spirit for adventure with a non-stop, 6- 9 hr adventure race through the rugged Manitoban wilderness! Teams of three use a map and compass to navigate an unmarked course through the back country of eastern Manitoba. Run, paddle and bike to attempt to be the fastest team to reach all checkpoints before the nine-hour cut off and make it to the finish line.
Sept. 24, Storm Edition 20, Haliburton, ON
The 20th-anniversary edition adventure race featuring all-new courses hosted from an all-new venue. Three separate events are offered to provide the widest possible range of adventure options.
Nov. 14, Raid the Hammer Adventure Run, Dundas, ON
The Raid the Hammer Adventure Run combines road running, trail running, navigation, and trekking together into Ontario's gnarliest running race. Teams of three can expect lots of mud, rock, and calf-killing climbs as they Raid the Hammer.