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For competition and camaraderie: Canada’s top ten running relay races

You'll want to find a friend (or ten) and sign up for one of these truly epic Canadian running relay events


Find some friends, form a team and register for one of these truly epic running relay events across Canada.

Friday, May 19th: Reebok Ragnar Niagara, Cobourg to Niagara Falls, Ont.

After a three-year hiatus, Ragnar, the popular American relay series, in partnership with Reebok returns to Canada with a road relay from Cobourg to Niagara Falls in southwestern Ontario. Teams of 6 or 12 see runners cover multiple legs each which vary in length and difficulty and average 25K each. Ultimately, teams complete the 300K journey in anywhere from 24 to 36 hours. Being fast is optional but having fun is guaranteed.

Saturday, May 27th: Cabot Trail Relay Race, Baddeck, N.S.

One of Canada’s best relay races in one of its most beautiful places. Seventy teams run approximately 275K around the world famous Cabot Trail on Cape Breton. Each leg of the relay varies in difficulty and distance—between 12K and 20K—and takes participants over scenic rolling hills, up and down occasional mountains, along sprawling shorelines, through national parks and to charming seaside communities. The relay starts early on Saturday outside the town of Baddeck and continues all day and night until the finish back in the town centre some 24 hours later. There is a celebratory post-race lobster banquet and awards ceremony which takes place Sunday in the local arena.

Saturday, June 3rd: The Banff Jasper Relay, Banff to Jasper, Alta.

Covering some 260K in total, sixty teams of 15 runners compete in what some describe as “the most beautiful relay in the world.” The historic relay dating back to 1982 now involves 15 individual stages that travel north from Castle Mountain Junction to Jasper passing the majestic Canadian Rocky Mountains. The event is entirely contained with the Banff and Jasper National Parks ensuring scenic and inspiring views and a once-in-a-lifetime running experience.


RELATED: The second generation: A historical account of one of Canada’s most treasured relays

Saturday, June 24th: Kananaskis 100-Mile Relay, Longview, Alta.

This popular relay is among Alberta’s top-rated road races and limited to 180 teams (who can pay extra to guarantee their spot). The 100 mile (161K) course begins among the rolling hills of Longview in southwestern Alberta and includes ten legs that range in distance from 10K to 20K and in difficulty based on the length and elevation profile. The race starts early on Saturday morning and participants make their way along highway 541 towards the majestic Rocky Mountains. The course then enters into the Kananaskis Valley before finishing at Nakiska, the site of the alpine events of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games.

Saturday, July 8th: Sinister 7 Ultra, Crowsnest Pass, Alta.

The Sinister 7, inspired by the treacherous Seven Sisters Mountain which looms over the course, may prove to be the greatest challenge a runner ever faces. The 100 mile (161K) course can be covered individually or as part of a team relay with up to seven members. The course takes participants through some of the most rugged, remote but beautiful terrain in Alberta’s majestic Rocky Mountains and is split into seven stages, each featuring a unique geographic and historic highlight of the area. Participants enjoy a pre- and post-race meal and receive a tech tee and “Sinners” medal for their efforts. The solo distance is also part of the Canadian Skyrunning/skyrunner Series.


Saturday, August 5th: Canadian Death Race, Grande Cache, Alta.

Every August long weekend in the town of Grande Cache, hundreds of eager participants embark on one of the world’s most challenging courses in what has been dubbed “Canada’s toughest race.” The 125K course at the foot of the majestic Rocky Mountains includes extreme trails, mountain summits, a major river crossing and 5,600m of elevation change. The event includes both individual as well as team relay options which all sell out quickly. In addition to the incredible race experience and top-notch organization, participants enjoy superb race amenities from start to finish.

RELATED: One runner’s account of attempting the Death Race without shoes

Friday, September 8th: Klondike Trail of ’98 International Road Relay, Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon

First run in 1983, the Klondike Road Relay now features some 50 teams and over 1,200 participants from across the Pacific Northwest and beyond. The 175km race, from Skagway to Whitehorse, commemorates the Gold Rush Stampeders who climbed the famous White Pass to the Yukon over 100 years ago. The race starts on Friday evening and continues non-stop until Saturday afternoon for the finish in Whitehorse. Teams complete ten individual legs which range from about 10K to 25K and offer incredible and scenic views to offset the physical challenge.

Saturday, September 30th: Rum Runners Relay, Halifax to Lunenburg, N.S.

Another historical event, originally run in 1985, this annual relay takes place on the last Saturday of September and always sells out. The event is limited to 70 teams, all guaranteed to have a ton of fun. Teams compete in a ten-stage, approximately 110K relay that starts in Halifax and follows Nova Scotia’s south shore to the quaint coastal town of Lunenburg. Most legs include scenic rolling hills with some featuring a few significant climbs and fast descents. The post-race reception and awards are an equally important part of the tradition.

Saturday, October 14th: Banff Ekiden Relay, Banff, Alta.

The Banff Ekiden Relay is a scenic, fun, and memorable event in beautiful Banff National Park. Teams of five complete legs ranging from about 5 to 15K, all incredibly scenic but some more challenging than others, which together add up to 42.2K, the standard marathon distance.


Saturday, October 14th: Whistler 50 Relay & Ultra, Whistler, B.C.

This popular relay event comprises an eight-person format with alternating legs of approximately 13K and 7K or two and four-person formats with alternating 20K legs. All races are centred in Whistler Village and the picturesque valley trail system. The 50 mile (80K) ultra-distance is an ambitious yet achievable option for both novice and veteran ultra-marathoners, while the relay options are preferred by those seeking more camaraderie and competition. Participants are also invited to attend the pre-race social on Friday night and the Saturday night post-race party making the event an ultra-memorable experience.