When we published our list of best fall road races, the comments from our readers came, like a racer, fast: what about trails? It’s a good question and an important one that needs addressing. More and more road runners are turning to trails to get into nature, appreciate the ground’s natural softness and leave the city behind for a more idyllic, interesting setting. So what did our trail running readers come up with? Here are some of the best trail races, to Run Like a Wolf and Feed Your Wild, to borrow a line from the Ultra Trail Harricana of Canada outside La Malbaie, Quebec, both in Canada and abroad.
1. Haliburton Forest Trail Race
Old School trail race in the beautiful Haliburton Highlands. Super fun vibe with the camping area being right at the start/finish line. September 9-11, the race offers distances from twelve kilometres to 100 miles, and—celebrating its twenty-ninth birthday—remains as sprightly, joyful and invigorating as ever.
Multiple distances through the remote mountains of the Charlevoix region in Quebec. Amazing views over the mountains and St Lawrence River. Funds raised help fight MS and the race’s slogan tells you everything: Run like a wolf to free your wild. September 9-12.
One of the classic Quebec trail races—the province’s first 100-miler—encourages social involvement through philanthropy, and, at its core, this non-profit raises money for the ULTRAGIVING Foundation. Test your limits of your endurance, and soul. October 7- 9.
Sanctioned by Athletics Canada and sponsored by Merrell, this wildly popular, snow-flecked race at Hilton Falls Conservation Area is organized by the great Happy Trails. The Beav 50K race raises money for Movember, and kicks off November 5.
Distances from 5K to 50K held on the trails in Batawa, Ontario, often raced on top of snow-covered trails. This event started with 24 runners in 2004 and hosted more than 700 rugged souls last year. It’s run on Sunday, November 20 and, as you can tell from the name, is meant to be thoroughly enjoyed.
Maureen Buckley is an inspiration who runs with BlackToe and wrote this classic story for iRun. Here are her favourite trail races. “All of these races—except for the Canada Death Race—have multiple distance options. Most of these I have done, the rest are on my bucket list.”
1. Transrockies Run, Colorado
6-day stage race over 120 miles that’s happening RIGHT NOW. There is also a shorter three-day option (when the shorter options is three days, you know you’re at a serious event). All you have to do is run every day—they do everything else for you. It’s an amazing experience.
2. Squamish 50, Squamish, BC.
23K, 50K or 50K/50m options (you run 50 miles on Saturday and 50km on Sunday). This is a Gary Robbins race and it’s fantastic. Squamish is a magical place. It’s held this weekend and sold-out, but something to think about for next year. Hint: start training now.
3. Big Foot 40 Mile Trail Race, Washington State
You run around Mt. St. Helen’s: 200 mile, 40 mile and 20 mile options. It’s’a seriously tough and seriously remote course. (These are good things!) You have to be pretty self sufficient, but it’s so cool to run around a volcano that once erupted.
4. Fat Dog 120, Manning Park, British Columbia
Featuring 40 miles, 70 miles, 120 miles (solo!) and 120-mile relay events. This is the one that I was supposed to be doing, but had to pull out because of COVID. The 120-mile distance is considered one of the toughest ultras in the world. Very, very technical terrain (as you can see in the photo above).
125k through the rockies in AB. I think the name says it all.