6 Hardest Races in Canada

Want to get spanked? Enjoy a lot of pain? These five endurance tests promise to hurt you.

There are three kinds of fun in the outdoors: 1. "Wee, this is fun." 2. "I'm working hard and having a good time." and 3. "This sucks, but man it will feel good reliving it over a beer at the end." While most races are Class 2 fun, these six suffer fests rank somewhere below Class 3. They vary in distance, scenery and appeal, but not in pain. The people that enter are not only a bit masochistic, but likely live by the mantra "It doesn't have to be fun to be fun."
In no particular order:
Coldest, windiest: 6633 Ultra
In March it may be getting brighter north of the Arctic Circle but it isn't much warmer, which provides strong evidence for the 6633's claim to be the Toughest, Coldest and Windiest Extreme Ultra Marathon on the planet. Entrants need to survive 566 kilometres of mountainous travel from Eagle Plain, Alaska, to Tuktoyaktuk, on the Arctic Ocean in Canada. Pulling a sled. With only two provision drops en route. Two of seven entrants finished in 2010.
March 20, 2015


Longest ride: Tour Divide

Stretching 4,418 kilometres from Banff to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, the Tour Divide owns the honour of longest unsupported off-road cycling race. After a mass start in Banff racers roughly follow the continental divide on jeep roads, singletrack and pavement, racing to reach Antelope Wells in less than 30 days. Half finish. The course record is just over 16 days.

Second Friday in June.


Hardest marathon: MEC Ottawa-Gatineau Park Marathon


Most marathon courses keep things pretty flat to encourage the quick times runners are looking for. Not this one. The urge to loop beautiful Gatineau Park was too much. The consequence: 1000 metres of elevation gain and loss. Ouch. The $25 entry fee may make up for the pain. Thanks MEC.

November 1, 2014


Brutal 10 K: Bear Mountain 10 k

Racing round the grounds of one of Victoria's nicest golf courses doesn't sound that challenging, until you start adding the clues together. Golfers must use carts. It's on a mountain. Oh, and it's widely considered Canada's most challenging 10K. With more than 300 metres of climbing, including Papa Bear, the longest and hardest of three major climbs, and plenty of rolling terrain, it's a leg burner. An equally hard half marathon runs at the same time and ends with a two kilometre grunt to the finish.


November 22, 2014



Joint crusher: The Knee Knacker


The Baden Powell Centennial Trail traverses Vancouver's bumpy north shore from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove, but it doesn't run along the spectacular waterfront. No, it goes up and over the four mountains rising above the city. And that's where the Knee Knacker goes too, climbing 2,400 metres and descending 2,500 metres over 48-kilometres.


early July, but register by February for a chance in the lottery entry



Killer ultra: Canadian Death Race


They don't event try to hide the torture waiting on this 125 kilometre course with 5,000 metres of elevation gain. Climbing and descending around the forest Rocky Mountain peaks near Grand Cache, Alberta, the weather is notoriously fickle, ranging from smoking hot to cold and soggy, often in the same day. As they say on the race website, survival is the best (and only) reward.


August long weekend



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