The Quebec Mega Trail 100-miler is now part of the World Trail Majors, a nine-race global running series launching in 2024 that member race directors say aims to steer trail running “in the right direction” by celebrating and preserving the identity of grass-roots races.
Quebec Mega Trail, launched in 2012, is the sole Canadian stop in next year’s series, which kicks off in Hong Kong in January and continues with races in Arizona, Spain, Japan, Portugal, Switzerland and England before wrapping up in South Africa in November.
What makes this series stand out from other international trail running circuits, according to this week’s announcement from the World Trail Majors, is the member race directors’ commitment to preserving the character of local, well-established races. More than a race series, the announcement describes the World Trail Majors as an association of independent race directors dedicated to three shared values: identity (preserving the “distinct and individual personality” of each race), respect (preserving the natural environment and customs of each host race), and diversity (appealing to a variety of runners by featuring races with a mix of distances, locations and terrain).
Of these, the issue of preserving local race identity in particular has come to the fore in recent weeks with UTMB World Series’ announcement that it will be bringing its trail running series to Whistler, B.C., next September. That is the same place and time local organizers Coast Mountain Trail Running had established its popular Whistler Alpine Meadows (WAM) event in previous years.
Jean Fortier, founder and race director of Quebec Mega Trail, told Canadian Running one way World Trail Majors aims to celebrate and cultivate the unique identity of its races is to break away from the “aiming for one race” model. “We want each race to have its own identity,” Fortier said.
(UTMB World Series participants have a chance to win a spot at UTMB’s premier event in Chamonix, France, either by qualifying outright or by qualifying for a lottery through completing an event in the series.)
Fortier said while World Trail Majors is committed to safeguarding what is unique about each race, the association also gives race directors opportunities to learn from one another and to build on their strengths.
“We’ve been working with races from all over the world for a long time, and we always liked the fact that we could learn from each other. So being in a series like this is an opportunity to go further in learning,” he said.
He noted being part of the World Trail Majors is also a chance for Quebec Mega Trail to help give Canadian athletes the global recognition they deserve. “We don’t see a lot of Canadian runners on the world scene,” said Fortier. “Maybe this is an opportunity for them to take their place on the global stage.”
Fortier added it’s also a chance to showcase Quebec Mega Trail to a more international field. “This series is very important, because we put a lot of effort in the 100-mile, and we think it’s something that’s going to appeal to runners from everywhere in the world,” he said.
World Trail Majors 2024 schedule
Jan. 18-21: Hong Kong 100 Ultramarathon—Hong Kong, 102 km, +5314m
Feb. 10-11: Black Canyon Ultra—Phoenix, Ariz., 100 km, +1,250m
Feb. 21-25: The North Face Transgrancanaria—Canary Islands, Spain, 126 km, +6,804m
April 26-27: Mt. Fuji 100—Fujiyoshida, Japan, 165 km, +7,574m
April 27-28: MIUT—Madeira Island Ultra-Trail—Madeira, Portugal, 115 km, +7,100m
June 7-9: Swiss Canyon Trail—Val de Travers, Switzerland 111 km, +5,350m
June 8-9: South Downs Way—Winchester, England, 161 km, +3,800m
July 5-7: Quebec Mega Trail—between Charlevoix and Côte de Beaupré, Que., 160 km, +6,500m
Nov. 22-24: RMB Ultra-Trail Cape Town—Capetown, South Africa, 166 km, +7,516m
World Trail Majors says it is finalizing entry and ranking system details for the series, which will be updated on its website.