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Conquer the Crater ultra trail event is back for second year

Use our discount code GETOUTTHERE2023 to save big on registration

The second edition of Ontario's exciting new ultra trail running event as part of the XTERRA Conquer the Crater off-road triathlon weekend is scheduled for July 22 and 23 in Sudbury. 

In addition to a fantastic triathlon weekend, XTERRA will also host 5K, and 10K trail running races along with the 63K ultra. 

“It was always our vision to annually build upon the Conquer the Crater brand we created for our World Qualifying XTERRA race,” says John Macdonald, one of the race co-founders along with his wife Tracy Hayes. 

“XTERRA Planet introduced a 21K trail run series a few years ago, with its own separate World Championship race in Hawaii, and last year we held our first XTERRA: Conquer the Crater 21K trail run. Without exaggeration, we were inundated by the competitors and the public wanting to know when we’d be offering an ultra as part of our events package. We listened to our athletes, and this was the direction they wanted us to grow, and we are thrilled to take on this new challenge and become part of the ultra community.”

Macdonald says the 63K and the 21K trail runs will consist of 21km laps, all safely contained within the trail system of beautiful Kivi Park located in Sudbury, Ontario.  

“The laps will include a mix of double-track crusher dust ski trails and challenging single-track hiking trails,” Macdonald says. “The course will take athletes across iconic vistas of the Canadian Shield, showcasing the region’s famous rock, pine forests, and unique geography that once inspired NASA to send their astronauts here for training.”

The event takes place in the rugged and gorgeous Northern Ontario landscape outside of Sudbury at Kivi Park. It’s a landscape that Macdonald describes, quite simply, as “challenging.”

Not only does the weekend offer an opportunity to challenge participants in a stunning environment, but it also puts charity front and centre. 

The XTERRA Conquer the Crater off-road triathlon and trail running weekend is the only race on the XTERRA World Tour that donates 100 per cent of its proceeds to charity — and that charity is making an immediate, positive impact on local families who need it most.

Macdonald and Hayes along with the XTERRA Conquer the Crater community, have raised nearly $200,000 for Miles Against Cancer (MAC) since the event’s inception in 2019.

“For every new pediatric cancer diagnosis in Northern Ontario, those families are handed a $2,000 check right away to cover upfront costs for their travel and meals,” explained Macdonald, who co-founded Miles Against Cancer with the Northern Cancer Foundation after his son Malcolm, affectionately known as Mac, was diagnosed with cancer as a two-year-old in 2016.

“Mac is doing great now, he is on the other side of his disease, and has been cancer-free for five years. It is truly a blessing,” he says. “He just turned eight on August 5, and he’s become an avid mountain biker this summer.”

Macdonald was a heck of a mountain biker himself and raced on the Ontario Cup circuit when he was younger, then dabbled in triathlon and road cycling before discovering XTERRA.

“After a few seasons of racing in a circle I wanted something more, found a local XTERRA, and was hooked,” he said. “I fell in love with the race series and always wanted to get involved, so after creating Miles Against Cancer (MAC) we contacted XTERRA, then connected with James Kowalewski from Element Racing, and it’s been an amazing partnership ever since.”

In the first year of XTERRA Conquer the Crater in 2019 the crew raised $90,000 before costs for MAC.  Last year, through a virtual event due to COVID-19, $47,000, and this year about $65,000.

“Building this community has always been a dream of mine,” said Macdonald. “Bringing different groups of cyclists and athletes together to experience the fun, energy, and challenge of XTERRA racing has been amazing. I often struggle between the root cause of the event, raising awareness and funds for children and their families living with and beyond cancer, and raising awareness of how awesome and amazing XTERRA racing is, but we have somehow struck a great balance between athleticism and altruism that brings out an amazing community — and it’s truly something special.”

John and his wife Tracy are also truly special. John is an epidemiologist by trade who works for public health and has dedicated the last year-and-a-half to keeping his community safe, while Tracy is a frontline physician helping operate the local COVID-19 testing centre and taking care of patients admitted to the hospital.

“It’s been a literal struggle for both of us, keeping the public safe, while recognizing the severe negative impacts that social isolation has for everyone, but even more so for athletes,” Macdonald says. “The motivation for many to train lessens when there is nothing on the horizon to train for, so we did everything within our power and planning to bring racing back for people and give them a little hope, something to train for, focus on, and look forward to.”

Consider that mission accomplished, as more than 100 racers took to the trails of Kivi Park last year for what was the first weekend of XTERRA racing in Canada since 2019.

“It was amazing to get back to racing, and by the ear-to-ear smiles of the athletes, they were ready as well,” said Macdonald, who also served as the race director over the weekend sending the swimmers off for each heat, making sure teardown crews were in place, troubleshooting, locating trophies, and everything in between. 

“I love the partnership we have started with the XTERRA Family and hope that this will become a special stop on the XTERRA World Tour,” he says.

Mark your calendars for a great race and an even better cause at the fourth edition of XTERRA Conquer the Crater coming July 22-23, 2022 to join John, Tracy, their daughter Ceilidh, and sons Mac and Cam at Kivi Park for a celebration of the healthy, active, outdoors lifestyle.

Learn more and donate to MAC at milesagainstcancer.ca.

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