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Ultra-Trail Harricana held in Quebec, first Canadian ultra post-lockdown

La Malbaie, Que., was host to 600 athletes across three ultrarunning races on the weekend

Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc Course Photo by: Pascal Tournaire/UTMB

The Ultra-Trail World Tour (UTWT) has had a fractured season, and many of the series’s races have been cancelled due to COVID-19. The UTWT’s lone Canadian event, the Ultra-Trail Harricana (UTHC) in La Malbaie, Que., was able to go ahead as scheduled, and on September 10 to 12, more than 600 runners raced across three distances. In normal years, the event holds twice as many races, but this year’s event was limited to a 65K, an 80K and a 125K. The race hosted one of the largest fields of runners that any Canadian event has seen since the start of the pandemic. 

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L'Ultra-Trail Harricana 2020 touche à sa fin. Cela aura été une édition très spéciale, exceptionnelle à bien des égards, mais assurément réussie. Pour une organisation passée au cours des derniers mois, des dernières semaines, par toutes les émotions, c’est un incroyable baume au coeur de vous retrouver sur nos sentiers, de voir vos sourires radieux, même masqués, et d’être témoin de votre enthousiasme débordant. Quel soulagement aussi de constater – parce que c’était, on ne va pas se le cacher, l’une de nos appréhensions – que vous avez joué le jeu et vous êtes montrés compréhensifs et respectueux des règles sanitaires que nous avons été contraints d’imposer cette année. Nous vous proposons une sélection de photos prises par nos photographes durant cette belle fin de semaine ensoleillée. 📷 Francis Gagnon, Richard McDonald, Ian Roberge et Carl Vignola #jesuisloup #freeyourwild #trailrunning #ultratrail #ultrarunning #quebec #canada #charlevoix @ultratrailworldtour

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A local affair 

The UTHC traditionally offers 5K, 10K, 28K, 42K, 65K and 125K options for runners, as well as a 1K run for kids. Like all UTWT events, the UTHC usually attracts hundreds of participants from all over the world. In 2019, runners from more than 20 countries showed up in the small Quebec town to race, but this year’s event was overwhelmingly Canadian, with just a few international entries on the start list and the vast majority of runners hailing from Quebec. 

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UTHC results 

Montreal resident Martin Dagenais won the 65K race in 5:32:52, crossing the line with a three-minute lead over second place. In the women’s race, Quebec City’s Sarah Bergeron-Larouche crossed the finish line well ahead of the next closest runner, finishing in 6:04:36. Bergeron-Larouche improved on her last performance at the UTHC, which came in 2018 when she finished in eighth in the 65K in a time of 6:08:54. 

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À 63/65 km @uthc, ça ne ment pas, les jambes se faisaient moins légères 😹 Un mélange d’euphorie et d’anxiété m’accompagnait dans les premiers kilomètres. Je me sentais choyée de pouvoir participer à un évènement cet automne. Mais cela faisait un éternité que je n’avais pas testé la forme en vraie situation de course 😱 ! Mes highlights : 1- La vue dans les premiers kms dans le parcs des hautes gorges au dessus des nuages 🤩 2- Entendre un huard 🦆 à 35 km du parcours alors que je commençais à m’endormir. 3- Me sentir extrêmement bien à 40km, et accélérer pour faire un negative split ! Faut croire que la maturité rentre et que l’entraînement porte fruit 🍎! En entendant le prochain évènement, je tiens à remercier toute l’équipe qui a rendu @uthc possible cette année !

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In the 80K, professional Ironman triathlete Antoine Jolicoeur Desroches took the win in 7:06:40. Jolicoeur Desroches is self-described as a “wannabe ultrarunner” in his Instagram bio, and based on his run over the weekend, he can probably drop the “wannabe” and confidently move forward with the official title of ultrarunner. On the women’s side, Claudine Soucie of Rockland, Ont., won by a whopping hour and a half, finishing in 8:02:21. 

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Finally, in the longest race of the weekend, the winners were David Savard-Gagnon and Catherine Lemire. Savard-Gagnon finished the 125K route in 13:58:57 and Lemire won the women’s race in 20:10:13, a full two hours faster than second place. For full results from each of the three UTHC events, click here.