Don’t Think You Can Compete in Canada’s Most Gruelling Winter Race? Think Again
“Celebrate human resilience.” That’s the tagline for Actif Epica, one of Canada’s most gruelling outdoor competitions. The human-powered race assembles an international roster of robust athletes, a specific breed of humans who are tough enough to brave the chilly temperatures and raw winter landscape of southern Manitoba in February. Participants choose between the 200-kilometre cycling marathon, the 162-kilometre run or — for beginners — a simple 120-kilometre option, of which you can cycle or run (or crawl, if need be).
The event unites communities located along the Crow Wing Trail, a section of The Great Trail in southeast Manitoba that offers unlimited opportunities for nature lovers, birders, artists, photographers and other types of explorers.
How gruelling is this race?
While it takes strategic training to tackle an event of this magnitude, it might also require a certain amount of old-fashioned gumption. Actif Epica is considered an ultramarathon, which means it’s at least 10 kilometres longer than the traditional marathon distance of 42 kilometres.
The first edition of Actif Epica took place in 2012, and attracted 32 racers. By 2014, the race had tripled its registration, and earned a Manitoba Tourism Excellence Award. Last year, eight heroic individuals managed to complete the ultramarathon challenge. This year, so far, 13 individuals are registered to participate in the ultramarathon. To these folks we say: “Good luck, winter warriors!”
You can do it! Here’s how
The good news is that, even if you can’t bike or run for 120 kilometres, you might still be able to participate in the Actif Epica. How is that possible? Well, the route can be completed as a six-person relay team. The race is divided into sections (from checkpoint to checkpoint), and these sections vary in distance and terrain. Team members can choose to either cycle or run. In other words, you could participate in Actif Epica by covering 20 kilometres, which is achievable in under two hours (for an average cyclist).
So why not grab five of your friends and set yourselves a goal to participate? If the 2017 edition doesn’t present enough training time, you can always set your sights on next year’s event. If you’re still not interested in trekking across the winter landscape of southern Manitoba — let’s be honest, it’s not for everyone — the race is happy to accept eager volunteers.
Heck, whether racing or volunteering, it truly is a wonderful way to celebrate human resilience.
Event: Actif Epica
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Date: 18 February 2017
10 November, 2022