Nothing says “time for a race” like the windswept Canadian prairie smack in the middle of the most frigid month of the year. And this is Manitoba, where temps hovered in the teens last February, but the average humidity was solidly in the 70th percentile. Cold. To. The. Bone.
And yet the Actif Epica manages to be a total delight in its difficulty. It’s precisely what the organizers are after. Anyone can run, walk, crawl through a tough race. Only the most resilient will endure and persist through this ultra that follows an historic trade route from Emerson to suburban Winnipeg.
The route—the Crow Wing Trail and the historic Red River Ox Cart Trail—isn’t overly hilly, but it is geographically diverse. It travels along small rivers, through towns, and along country roads. Interest in the route was piqued in 1999, when it became an official segment of the Trans-Canada Trail. Profits from the race go to the nonprofit Crow Wing Trail Association.
If you think you have what it takes, or you’re just bored of keeping your body temperature to a life-sustaining 98.6 degrees, the Actif Epica has a few options to choose from. There’s the 125-kilometer combination bike and run, 162-kilometer run, or the 200-kilometer bike. Word on the street is that a shorter (yet still ultra-distance) length will be added for 2019, but the details are still being worked out.