Calgary’s Scott Cooper crossed the finish line of the inaugural The Divide 200 in a remarkable 49 hours 47 minutes and 59 seconds. Despite not sleeping during the race, having snake hallucinations on the trail and never having completed such a tremendous distance, Cooper was in great spirits and said he felt quite good. “The course was incredible,” he shared. “The volunteers were amazing, and it meant a lot on such a remote course to come into an aid station at night and have the atmosphere so pumped.”
Western Canada’s first-ever 200-mile race, which included the Castle/Crownest/Flathead region of the southern Rockies (it started and finished at Castle Mountain Resort in Pincher Creek, Alta.), kicked off at 8:00 a.m. local time on Tuesday, and runners from across Canada and beyond embarked on a 201-mile (324-km) challenge along parts of the Great Divide trail. Climbing 12,335 metres in elevation, with a time limit of 100 hours, runners are testing their limits in the Rocky Mountains and must wrap up their journey by Saturday morning.
Spanning the Continental Divide between Alberta and B.C., the GDT traverses the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains for more than 1,100 kilometres. It is known for being one of the planet’s most stunning–and challenging–long-distance trails.
Cooper boasts a remarkable racing resume that includes a second-place finish at Fat Dog 120 in 2022 and a recent win at the Sinister 7 100-miler. In 2022, he led the 100-mile race until he was forced to DNF with a shoulder dislocation. 2023’s race was a redemption round, with Cooper crossing the line in 19:16:44. “It was probably the most well-executed race I’ve had, managing calories and hydration super well to keep a consistent effort all day and even having some pretty solid gas in the tank for the last leg of the race,” he shared on social media. When asked if another 200-mile race was in the offing, Cooper was quite firm. “No.” The runner explained that he was satisfied with his race. “When you run a shorter distance, you have smaller things that go wrong and you want to come back and fix those. There are too many things to fix in a race this long,” he said.
Cooper pulled up a chair after he finished and visited with his dog and his partner while waiting for the second-place finisher, Canmore’s Sam Dickie, who followed Cooper in 52:13:44. Dickie and Cooper didn’t know each other at the start of the race, but fell into an easy partnership, sharing some 200 kilometres of trail until Dickie needed to sleep, and Cooper pushed onward. Their camaraderie was evident when Dickie joyfully crossed the line. “That was so much fun!” he said.
After steadily making his way through the pack, Colin Miller of Fernie, B.C., rounded out the men’s podium in 54:53:26.
Colorado’s Mika Thewes wins women’s race
A few hours later, Mika Thewes of Lakewood, Colo., was the first woman to cross the finish line, in 58 hours, 51 minutes and 11 seconds. She had held fourth position throughout the race, putting on an impressive sprint at the end to take the win. Only a month ago, Thewes broke the course record at the Bigfoot 200 in Washington state (she also won in 2021). She has 13 race finishes of 200 miles or more. “The sunrises were beautiful,” Thewes said, adding that the ridge running was “tough” and that the terrain reminded her of the Colorado Rockies.