Sunday’s Banff marathon has changed routes to prevent further stress on a local wolf pack. Event organizers announced on Friday that the race course will be altered because of increased wildlife presence, including bears and wolves, in the Banff area, a resort town in Alberta.
A spokeswoman for Banff National Park confirmed to the Calgary Herald that the course change was due to a local wolf pack.
Only the half-marathon and marathon courses are affected by the changes. The 10K remains the same.
The Bow Valley wolf pack lives in the area where the race is being held and park officials are keeping a 24/7 watch on the pack to ensure it stays away from the city’s busier areas. One wolf pack member was shot and killed in early June.
The race takes place in Canada’s oldest national park, which covers 6,641 square kilometres in the heart of Alberta’s mountain range. The town of Banff is a popular destination in the winter for skiing and snowboarding and popular in the summer for its trails and climbing.
Parks Canada has offered the race access to the Banff Legacy Trail as an alternative to the original race route. The new courses are accurate and fully serviced, according to the Banff marathon website.
Due to the increased and consistent wildlife presence, mainly wolf and bear activity, Parks Canada has determined that the half and full marathon courses will be adjusted. As a result, Parks has granted runners exclusive access to the renowned Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail route (please see contingency route maps). The 10K course remains unaffected.
This beautiful route will still offer an accurate and fully-serviced course for the participants. The Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail was built in honour of Banff National Park’s 125th Anniversary. The trail is a testament to, and celebration of the values of the national park, encouraging visitors and Bow Valley residents to explore the landscape in an environmentally friendly way.
The trail links the mountain towns of Banff and Canmore through an additional 4.5K of pathway outside of Banff National Park boundaries. The entire Trail is collectively referred to as the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail – a distance of 26.8K.
About the route change
A contingency route has been designated in the event of potential wildlife conflicts along the primary route that would deem the primary route not acceptable. The contingency route for the half and full marathon distances would begin on Buffalo Street (at Bear St. adjacent to the race finish area), travel east, turn north on to Muskrat Street, run the length of Muskrat Street connecting to Banff Ave (northbound) and then on to the Legacy Trail eastbound. The route would carry on the Legacy Trail eastbound to the East Park Gate (for the full marathon) to a designated turnaround point where the participants will return to Banff (westbound) on the same route used out the outward portion. The route differs on the return once the participants arrive at Muskrat and Buffalo Street. At this point the route travels across Buffalo Street and on to the Bow River trail system across the Pedestrian Bridge to the trails on the south side of the river, along Glen Ave, Birch Ave, Birch Dr, the Recreational Grounds and Sundance Road (10K route only), trails adjacent to Cave Ave, before running north on Banff Ave across the bridge and finishing in Central Park. The 10K route will remain the same as Plan A and consist of 2 loops around the Town of Banff, utilizing the trails and roads listed above. Although it is unlikely that the course would be changed this route, the participant will still experience a beautiful run through the Mountain Valley that is well supported with aid and personnel.