When a friend sent Nicole Lancaster a link to the Great Virtual Road Race Across Tennessee, she thought it sounded “a bit intense,” and rightfully so, seeing as the event is over 1,000K. Lancaster and two friends, Amy Wallace and Joanna Albers, liked the idea of a long, virtual race that could give runners a goal to chase during COVID-19, but they wanted something that was “a bit more accessible to non-marathoners.” So, they created their own event: the Trans Canada Race—an event “across” Canada that virtually follows the Trans Canada Trail. The run will double as a fundraiser, and all proceeds will be donated to Food Banks Canada.
— The Great Trail 🇨🇦 (@TheGreatTrail) March 20, 2020
The route and participants
The Trans Canada Race isn’t a competition, at least not one that pits individuals against one another. Instead, it’s a challenge to see if participants can collectively run the Trans Canada Trail, which, as the name suggests, spans the entire country, hitting every province and passing through the territories as well.
“Coast to coast, plus the northern loop, is 20,000 kilometres,” Albers says. “If we wanted to include the side trails as well it can be 27,000 kilometres. If we get more people participating, we can obviously go farther. Maybe even there and back.” Runners have until August 31 to log as many kilometres as they can, and one week in, 35 participants have covered 1,063K. Registration will remain open for the foreseeable future with the hope that more people will join the event (which is open to walkers as well) to help them reach their goal.
— The Great Trail 🇨🇦 (@TheGreatTrail) January 23, 2020
“It’s 16 weeks long,” Lancaster says, “so we know some weeks will have more participation and others will have less. Hopefully it’ll all even out.”
While the fundraising aspect is of course important to the trio, they say creating an activity and challenge that can engage runners during COVID-19 was their main drive when starting the Trans Canada Race.
“That’s really what we were hoping for,” Wallace says. “People want to feel they’re doing something together, so that’s been very exciting to see that happening.”
Did you know? The longest segment of The Great Trail extends 1,659.5 kilometres from the Northwest Territories to the Yukon. It follows the longest river in Canada, the Mackenzie. You’ll need hiking boots and paddling skills to navigate this waterway! https://t.co/tlNAFKxxUJ pic.twitter.com/wXrvp3hTdg
— The Great Trail 🇨🇦 (@TheGreatTrail) March 9, 2020
So far, the Trans Canada Race has raised over $1,400. That’s after just one week of running, and their original aim was $3,000, so they’re hopeful they can surpass that goal and continue to raise money for Food Banks Canada.
The registration fee for the run is $50 per person and $75 for teams (partners can run together and combine their weekly mileage).
— City of Port Moody (@CityofPoMo) May 30, 2017
Why Food Banks Canada?
Lancaster, Wallace and Albers live and train in Waterloo, Ont., and while Lancaster notes there are “a lot of local organizations” in their community, they decided it would be better to support a cause that helps people across the entire country.
“We’re not just limiting this to people in the GTA—we have people on the East Coast, Alberta,” Albers says. “It’s just nice for them to know that they could donate to something that could be used in their province as well.”
Donations are not limited to race participants, and they can be made by anyone on the Food Banks Canada website.