Most runners are accustomed to only one sort of race: the kind with a mass start where most of us run for a personal best at the particular distance. When we cross the finish line, place is a bit of an afterthought to the time based achievement, or perhaps the satisfaction of just finishing.

Brothers Jonathan and Sean Sinclair like to do things a little bit differently. The two are competition junkies and have ran marathons, trail races and ultras. They also run a crossfit gym in London, Ont., where they host competitive charity fundraisers that have become hugely successful. That led them to start thinking about what sort of a race they could organize that would feed their competitive spirit and offer something totally new to the running community.

In place of fretting about the clock, the brothers thought it would be more fun to worry about the racer in front of you and behind you. And instead of a mass start, they borrowed from track races, swimming and skicross (where they got the name for their event) and adopted a heat system. In essence, their event isn’t a single race. If you place in your heat, you get to move on and compete once again, all the way to the final showdown.

To keep the races feisty and competitive, they have limited the distance of each heat to only a couple kilometres. And thus, TrailCross was born.

Canadian Running spoke to Sean Sinclair about their exciting new event, which will be held Aug. 10 of this year in the Edmonton area.
Canadian Running: How did you come up with the idea for a Trail Cross race?

Sean Sinclair: Our inspiration for this format came from a training session this past fall.  I went running on some hills at a ski hill, and it was an incredibly tough workout.  The group I was with was a mix of some competitive athletes, as well as seasoned road and trail racers.  Naturally our competitive sides took over and each time we ran up the hill it turned into an all-out race.  That’s when the idea hit me,  we could run a race based on the format of a Ski Cross race — each racer would run multiple heats and advance only based on finishing position, not time.  Simply put, run well in your heat and you move on.

CR: Who do you think this sort of event will appeal to?

SS: This event appeals to a variety of athletes.  Most obviously, trail runners and road runners, but also fitness enthusiasts.  Because the course is short and fast, anyone with a competitive nature would be attracted to this event.

CR: Will this be the first time to your knowledge that this sort of race will be held?

SS: To the best of our knowledge no other event like this exists.

CR: How many runners do you hope to attract to the race?

SS: Due to the unique format and in order to keep the day moving smoothly, the maximum number of racers that we can accommodate at this time is 150.

CR: Tell us what the course will be like in terms of difficulty, terrain, scenery.

SS: This 460 acre park is located in the North Saskatchewan River valley of Southwest Edmonton.There are a multitude of trails to choose from, ranging from easy gravel double-track to technical, rooty single-track above sheer drops into the river.  This will provide a wide variety for race routes, with sections targeted for burning up racers legs, to open track to really let the competition loose.

CR: Will the field be a mixed male, female field with the fastest X number from each gender moving on, or just fastest overall?

SS: The field will be split between males and females, so we will have winners for both male and female divisions.  There will be no age divisions, again because of the maximum number of racers.

CR: Tell us about your desire to expand the event and if you have any other races in the works.

SS: Our goal is to make TrailCross into a series type of sport with races across the country, with a final race in each region only open to the top racers through the season.  As of right now, we are working on finalizing a location for a TrailCross race in London, Ont. this summer in 2013. We have visions of spreading this race throughout Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia, and where ever else that shows a potential market.

For more information on TrailCross, visit their website. This year’s event takes place Aug. 10.

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