It’s almost hard to believe that one week ago today, we were in the heart of the third edition of Actif Epica. Our biggest year yet also brought us the first real winter challenge since we dreamed up this celebration of human resilience.
Weather, landscape and the interaction of the two is always a determining factor at Actif Epica. This year’s edition had much more snow than past races, with more variable snow conditions (firm drifts runners and cyclists could stay on top of in some places, bottomless powder in others) and a wind that started as a tailwind but swung to the north almost as soon as the race was underway. Overnight temperatures fell to close to -25C to complete the deal; this was very much a winter race, as opposed to the last two years which have felt more like late winter races.
The challenge can be clearly seen in the numbers. Of the 57 participants who started, 16 did not finish, and our finish times encompassed a broad range, with first place finishers JP Peters and Dan Lockery coming in nearly 3.5 hours later than 2013’s first place and 4.5 hours later than 2012’s balmy edition. Runners fared slightly better in the face of a headwind and deep snow, with front-runner Stephen Graupner coming in only 40 minutes later than last-year’s front runner.
The field this year had a mix of returning racers (like JP Peters, Suyin Lum Min, or, back for his third edition – second time on a bike, Craig Desjarlais, veteran racers new to Actif Epica (like Alain Foidart and Lindsay Gauld) and experienced athletes who were winter ultra rookies (like Amy Oberbroekling or Bert Blackbird). It was a good year for women, with Andrea Tetrault finishing in the top third and Sveta Kovalchuk in the the top half. Once again, we hosted racers visiting from elsewhere – with representatives from Colorado, Minnesota and Saskatchewan. And of course, The Manitoba Yeti returned from— we’re not sure where, actually— to take it all in and cheer everyone on.
Actif Epica would be nothing without the help of more than 50 volunteers. A huge debt of gratitude is owed to the folks who mark the course, set up and staff the checkpoints, rove the course offering encouragement or emergency medical support, and help with timing, logistics and race management. It’s these folks (many of them bikers and runners, too, but also just community-minded people from along the Crow Wing Trail) that make the race possible, and more than that, add color and energy to the day. Maniyeti hugs to you all!
With Actif Epica growing as it has, we’ll be looking for volunteers much earlier next year to help in a number of areas. Don’t be surprised if you hear from us in late summer to talk about a winter event!
We were once again humbled by the uptake on event coverage this year by local media—despite the olympics being on! We also saw a lot of activity on Twitter, with volunteers keeping everyone up to date, and the broader community wishing the racers luck and retweeting reports.
Our host communities took great care of everyone too! From the start line to the finish, the racers (and the volunteers!) were treated to the hospitality and good will of the communities that dot the trail.
We’ve gotten a number of race reports from participants, and we’ve heard of a few more on their way. If you’ve got something to share, please email us at [email protected], and we’ll do our best to spread it around. And feel free to drop some quick thoughts in the comments here too!
Thanks to everyone who made this day happen.
—Ian, David, and the whole Actif Epica organizing team.