The Speed Project is one of the toughest ultramarathons in North America that you’ve probably never even heard of.

Next year’s event will mark the fourth running of the non-sanctioned event as team members alternate between following in an RV and completing legs of the relay. The 2018 event begins March 30 and Run Calgary, the organizers of the Calgary Marathon, is backing a six-person team comprising some of the country’s top ultramarathoners.

The Speed Project is a gruelling trek from Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles to Las Vegas. The distance is approximately 547K. The record is just over 36 hours. “On foot. No rules,” the Speed Project says.

The Calgary team is named #TSPYYC [The Speed Project Calgary]. Here are the members, with two hand-picked athletes (earning an all-expenses paid trip) as chosen by judges based on submitted applications.

Alissa St Laurent

St Laurent, the winner of the 2015 Canadian Death Race, is one of the country’s top ultramarathoners. She finished sixth at the 2017 Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc in Chamonix, France, considered one of the most prestigious trail ultras in the world.

Dave Proctor

In September, Proctor commuted 170K to the Lost Soul Ultra in Lethbridge, Alta., which he then won in course-record time. He formerly held the world record for the greatest distance run on a treadmill in 24 hours and is planning to run across Canada beginning June 22, 2018.

Ailsa Macdonald

First 100 mile ultra completed!! To say it was a successful race is an understatement! Took first place OA in the solo…

Posted by Ailsa MacDonald on Sunday, July 9, 2017

Macdonald, in her first-ever 100-miler, crushed the entire field at Sinister 7 in July 2017. She finished more than 90 minutes ahead of the second-place finisher clocking 18:54:57 for 160K. Talk about impressive!

Justin Kurek

Justin Kurek
Photo: Dave Holland.

Yee-haw. Kurek is the record holder for the fastest marathon while wearing a cowboy costume, a feat he accomplished at the 2017 Calgary Marathon when he clocked 2:42:17.

Ari Sarantis

Lake Chaparral Sprint (1st AG; 4th OA) . I will never make fun of sprint tris ever again. I will never make fun of sprint tris ever again. I will never make fun of sprint tris ever again. . #tbt to that time a couple weeks back when I vowed never again to denigrate those who, or the effort required to, participate in a sprint distance triathlon. . To paraphrase Henry Hill from Goodfellas, you want to do a sprint triathlon? Now you gotta redline every minute, no matter what. Glutes hurt? "Fuck you, work harder." Oh, big hill coming up? "Fuck you, work harder." Run pace makes you wanna puke? "Fuck you, work harder." . When the hour and sixteen minutes was over, I sat on a curb by the finish line whimpering and massaging my calf fascia for a good 20 minutes. To add insult to injury, I was passed in the final 300 metres of the run, losing out on 3rd overall by 5 seconds. . Still got first in my age group, but, curiously, MultisportsCanada didn't do any sort of awards ceremony (see my post on validation a couple photos ago), so I asked what I assumed to be the first place guy's girlfriend to take a photo of us for posterity. . #dunce #duncecap #3433 #3433spc #3433sportperformance #outlawendurance #triathlon #pain #ouch

A post shared by Ari Sarantis (@arisarantis) on

A seven-time Ironman finisher, Sarantis is the one who came up with the Speed Project Calgary idea.

Jon Bird

Jon Bird is Run Calgary’s race director with past performances including first place and podium finishes at Escape from Alcatraz, Muskoka 5150, and Wasa Lake.


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