Our biggest news this year is a significant course change, sorta. We’ve struggled with managing the highly variable nature of our southernmost course sections for the longest distance events in the last few years. From Emerson to Senkiw can accumulate so much snow that the course can become almost impassible. Last year many, many hours were spent packing down the snow in the days immediately preceding race weekend in those areas and the conditions still added hours onto our projected race pace for many participants. We want the course and the event to be a challenge, but there’s a balance, and Emerson to Senkiw can sometimes throw the race out of balance.
So, this year we’ll be doing an out-and-back event starting and finishing at the Forks. The longest distance cyclists and runners will turn around at St Pierre and Crystal Spring respectively, spots our return participants will be familiar with. The classic distance turn around will be Niverville, another location we’ve used for years, and the shorter distance turn around will be a new checkpoint on Frasier Road just east of St Mary’s and just north of the Floodway. We’ll still be following the Crow Wing Trail for much of the race as in years past, and will keep total distances and finish times similar to previous years. For the longest distance cyclists we’ve substituted the interesting terrain around the Senkiw suspension bridge with a ride on the Rat River between Crystal Spring and St Pierre (assuming favourable conditions of course). We hope to expose the longest distance runners to a part of the Rat River as well.
Niverville, Crystal Spring, and St Pierre have become our ‘premium’ checkpoints in recent years with food available at each of these stops, so we’re excited to feature all three in this year’s race too.
An out-and-back event means we can dispense with shuttling athletes and bikes to southern race starts, which saves participants a bit of money and also means more convenient start times in some cases. Further, it means we’ll be able to expand our pre-race bike check to a day or two before the race for people who want to get that done early and now don’t need to bring their bike to the Friday pre-race meeting to load it onto the shuttle. Lastly, but of equal importance, it means our volunteers won’t be quite as far afield on race day. We’re happy to reduce their burden any way we can.
Most of the rest of the race will look and feel the same as in the past. We’ll have much more info posted here hopefully within the week (by Thanksgiving) but if you have any questions before then feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime.
We’re get’n excited!
Below is a very preliminary course map, subject to changes, meant to give you a basic idea of where the route will take you. You can find a description of the Checkpoints in our Spectator Guide. Updated GPS maps will be posted in our Race Bible.