Every August long weekend, elite and recreational runners gather in Grande Cache, Alta. and attempt to complete what has become one of the world’s most challenging adventure races.
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Grand Cache, Alta. is a town of 4,500 inhabitants located some 450K west of Edmonton and situated at the foothills of the majestic Rocky Mountains. It is also the annual host of the Canadian Death Race.
2016 will be the 17th year of the event which has grown to now include over a thousand organizers, participants and volunteers.
The event is immensely and increasingly popular and sells out quickly every year although those willing to volunteer can guarantee their spot in a future edition of the race.
The event features a 125K race that is completed individually or via team relays consisting of two to five people. The course includes extreme trails, three mountain summits, a major river crossing and some 5,600m of elevation change that is sure to present a serious challenge to any endurance junkie.
The challenging and incredibly scenic course begins and ends in Grande Cache and is divided into 5 distinct legs. The first and shortest–The Downtown Jaunt–at 19K includes a mix of pavement, trail and gravel with a net elevation loss of 150m. Leg two–Flood and Grande Mountain Slugfest–is 27K and considered by many to be the hardest and most technical leg of the entire race. Its total net gain is about 150m but includes over 2,000m of elevation change. The third leg–Old Mine Road/City Slicker Valley–is 19K and is the fastest and easiest of the race featuring a total elevation loss of about 350m. Hamel Assault is the fourth leg and also the longest at 38K. The net elevation gain is technically zero but total change is some 2,200m including the ascent of Mount Hamel, a popular drop out point for those who’ve had enough. The fifth and final leg at 22K is The River Crossing and for many will be completed in darkness. It also involves being ferried across the Smoky River before heading to the finish line back in Grande Cache in the town square.
The event concludes with an awards breakfast at the local arena and a volunteer appreciation luncheon later on which together celebrates what is sure to be an epic and memorable few days of adventure racing.