A new ultra-marathon trail race is being held in Glacier National Park this fall.
The Glacier Grind will see runners cover about 48 kilometres of distance and 4,000 metres of elevation gain.
The race is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 19, and will coincide with the Axis Mundi Harvest Festival.
It is being organized by 5Peaks, the same company that puts on TrailStoke at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
Amy Golumbia, the national race director for 5Peaks, said the idea for the race emerged following a fun run to Eva Lake in Mount Revelstoke National Park last summer.
“We started chatting and discussing the option of doing a longer race, such as an ultramarathon, in order to attract racers from further away,” she wrote in an e-mail. “The longer the race, the further people seem to be willing to travel to do it.”
Glacier National Park was chosen because of it’s beauty, said Golumbia, and because it’s friendly for spectators, with one central aid station on the course.
The Grind will be based out of the Illecillewaet Campground, with runners heading up and down the trails in the Asulkan and Illecillewaet areas.
The tentative course includes five legs. The first will see runners go up and down the Abbott Ridge trail. The second leg will go up the Asulkan Valley trail. Leg three will go up Glacier Crest, leg four up the Great Glacier trail, and the final leg will go up and down the gruelling Sir Donald trail.
“This location offered a true mountain race, similar to some of the sky races in Europe, with massive elevation gain,” said Golumbia.
This is the second ultramarathon being hosted by 5Peaks in the Revelstoke area this year, along with TrailStoke, which is scheduled to take place at Revelstoke Mountain Resort on August 29.
Golumbia said runners from all over make the effort to travel to ultramarathons, especially if they’re in unique locations.
“We really want people to come to the park if they haven’t before, and spend time exploring everything the area has to offer,” she said. “With Trailstoke, we had a lot of people tell us that they had always wanted to come to the area, but hadn’t made the effort or had a reason to until they registered for the race. Once they come for an event, they are likely to come back. We’ve heard that runners are planning to head to the area this summer to explore and train. It’s a great way to expose people to this beautiful part of the world!”
As for TrailStoke, the biggest change is the move to the end of August, which should allow for all the snow to melt and the full course to be run. This year’s race will be a little longer and feature more single track than last year, said Golumbia.