Taking it even further— all the way to Alaska

Some people (they know who they are) have said that while they love Actif Epica, and while they participate year after year after year, that they think it’s just plain not long enough. So we decided to give them exactly what they wanted. The 2017 Edition of Actif Epica will see extended options of 200 km for cyclists and 162 km for runners. Don’t worry— the classic 120 km race will still be around for the rest of us.

We are very pleased to announce today that Actif Epica has been accepted into the fold of the legendary Iditarod Trail Invitational as an event qualifier. Cyclists and runners who complete the longer stretches will now qualify to enter Iditarod! That will make us the first (and only) event in Canada to serve as a qualifier for the big one and only one of 7 globally. So get your gear together, plan your training, and get ready to register on October 1st.

In the mean time, we would love to hear from you if you’d like to help us out. We’re looking for volunteers to help us organize everything starting in August.

Here’s a media release we’re sending out this afternoon:


Local Winter Ultramarathon Becomes Sole Canadian Qualifying Event for
Legendary Iditarod Trail Invitational

Actif Epica, Manitoba’s most gruelling ultra endurance event has garnered exclusive status as the only event in Canada to serve as a qualifier for the internationally-renowned Iditarod Trail Invitational in Alaska, becoming one of only 7 events globally to do so.

Spanning the Crow Wing Trail, Actif Epica is adding options for its 6th annual February event that will see contestants travel by bike to Winnipeg from as far as Emerson— a distance of 200km. Actif Epica will take place on February 18th, 2017 and includes options of 120km, beginning in St Malo for Cyclists or Runners, with newly added extended options for cyclists beginning in Emerson (200km) and for runners beginning in Ridgeville (162km).

ITI Race Director, Kathi Merchant welcomed Actif Epica as a qualifier, saying it offers “a great event that is challenging and rewarding to athletes and where they are allowed to learn about themselves, winter travel and the area in Manitoba.”  Actif Epica Co-organizers, Ian Hall and David Pensato are excited to bring the race to a new level. “The Iditarod is really the Big One,” said Hall “everyone who competes in these kinds of ultra-endurance winter events dreams about getting in, so for us to be a qualifier really gives Actif Epica a big boost.”

Dubbed “A Celebration of Human Resilience,” Actif Epica has drawn participants from as far as California, Colorado and even Brazil. “The combination of epic adventure with a unique cultural and geographic experience has earned us a reputation as one of the main events to check out in adventure racing and ultra-endurance communities,” enthused Pensato. Previous editions have seen up to 80 registrants a number that’s expected to increase with the race’s new status.

The Crow Wing Trail provides a unique set of experiences to participants, traversing the Red River through south-eastern Manitoba through to The Forks. Crow Wing Trail Association President, Murielle Bugera is pleased with the attention, saying “Our communities are excited to welcome athletes from around the world. It can be difficult for us to imagine everyone who might benefit from a 193-km continuous trail, and here we have a perfect example!”

The race has earned several distinctions, including being named as one of Canada’s 10 Big Rides (Canadian Cycling Magazine, 2013), a Manitoba Tourism Award for Event of the Year (2014) and one of Canada’s ultimate adventures (Impact Magazine, 2016). Registration for the 2017 edition opens October 1.


Media Contact:

David Pensato

Updated Course for 2016

Here is the latest on the planned course for the 2016 race. The big news for the upcoming event is the addition of a 160 km option for the cyclists.

The 160 km course starts with a 34 km leg taking you south and checking in again at the St. Malo Arena checkpoint. From there the course is essentially the same as previous years until you are north of St. Adolphe.

The original distance of 125 km is for both cyclists and runners. As with the 160 km course, it remains virtually unchanged from previous years until you are on Schapansky Road nearing the floodway.

Heading west to Duff Roblin Provincial Park where you will cross the Red River on the Floodway Control structure and then head to La Barriere Park via St. Norbert before continuing to the University of Manitoba.

The draft version of the course is available for preview on this Google Map.

Three pieces of advice for first time racers (and helpful for all racers)

Actif Epica is a great day out on the trail. We’re pretty sure you’ll see some amazing places, meet some amazing people and that it’ll be a challenge you’ll remember fondly. Lots of good vibes! Inevitably though, there are the nagging questions, the questions that surround the ultimate one: ‘will I be able to finish’?

Here are three observations. These are the sources of most issues for people in previous years of Actif Epica – some serious enough that they prevented people from finishing. Hopefully they can help you feel more comfortable as you make your final preparations.

Safety Gear

In order to finish, you need to start. This means you need to pass the gear check on Friday (yes, it’s Friday the 13th). Pay attention to the mandatory gear list and make sure you have every item on it. If you fail, you’ll need to remedy the situation before you start… this means that if you show up early for gear check you’ll have more time to make an adjustment. There are usually a few gear check fails initially, but so far, we’ve always gotten everyone to the start line with their required gear all set. You’ll want to avoid the stress, though – double check the list ahead of time and leave yourself time if you need to make a change. And ensure you have all your stuff with you. There will be gear checks during the race and/or at the finish. We do this as a condition of our insurance and our special event permits from Province of Manitoba, City of Winnipeg, RCMP and Winnipeg Police Service.


For your safety and ours, you need to have functional marker lights on at all times (“real” LED blinkies, not turtle lights). If your lights aren’t on, or if the batteries die, a race director or checkpoint volunteer can ask you to remedy the situation in order to carry on (or DQ you for not having safety gear). So… put fresh batteries in your lights or ensure they are fully charged. Keep in mind that almost no alkaline batteries will last in the cold and many NiMH batteries won’t make it either; you’ll need to carry spares and change them out. Or you can use lithium batteries, which tend to be less affected by the cold. This one has caught a few people in past years. The same advice goes for your GPS batteries, if you are using one.


The number one physical thing that has forced people out of the race is cold hands. Just getting frostbitten fingers is bad enough. It’s doubly dangerous when you consider that your hands can get so cold they stop being able to function properly. You can quickly wind up unable to do things— things like putting more clothes on or using your cell phone to call for help. Keep in mind that hands can get cold fast. Make sure you have some serious extra mitts easily available (not at the bottom of a bag) where you won’t hesitate to pull them out at the first sign of trouble. And having a chemical hand warmer (like Hot Pockets) with you isn’t a bad idea in case of emergency. Seriously. Remember to keep them relatively warm (e.g. in an inside pocket), since they don’t work particularly well if you try to use them at 25 below.

Ask Questions About Everything

You can never be too informed. If you’re wondering about anything at all, ask someone. We’ve even opened up a new section of the site for questions and answers and conversation. Even the most seasoned pros learn little tips from each other all the time. We’re in this together out there, and (despite what it may look like to some people) we do it all to have a good time.