Canadian Death Race
03 August 2019
The Canadian Death Race takes place every August Long Weekend in Grande Cache, Alberta, Canada. This year, Adult Race Day is in July.Since the start of the millennium, elite racers have come to the Canadian Rockies to cheat Death in one of the world's toughest adventure races. The 125 km course begins and ends on a 4200 foot plateau, passes over three mountain summits and includes over 17,000 feet of elevation change and a major river crossing at the spectacular Hell's Gate canyon at the confluence of the Smoky and Sulphur Rivers. Extreme athletes, individually and in relays, push themselves to the limits of their endurance against the breathtaking background of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Each year, well-trained and totally committed, they battle heat, cold, altitude and themselves. Finishing is the prize. And the bragging rights are priceless.
The race begins and ends in Grande Cache, Alberta. The five legs may be run individually or in relay teams of from two to five members. The first leg is the shortest at 19 km, the second is the most technical, the third is considered the easiest section, the fourth is the longest at 38 km, and the last leg to the finish line is of (comparatively) intermediate difficulty. Included below are the cut off times for each leg. Cut off times are set for safety purposes and are strictly enforced for that reason. Included below are the cut off times for each leg. Cut off times are set for safety purposes and are strictly enforced for that reason. If a team's Racer does not make it in by the cutoff time, as a courtesy, the next Racer can begin at the cutoff time. However, the time to do the leg will not be scored and ultimately the Leg 5 Racer will not be able to cross the river (since he will not have the coin). First leg, 19 km: The Downtown Jaunt Approximately 6 km of pavement initially, followed by trail and 3.5 km of gravel road. It includes a net elevation loss of 500 feet, rolling hills with flat sections, several creek crossings and one significant downhill. The course will start in downtown Grande Cache and the race officially begins at the 5 km mark, after passing the Grande Cache Saddle club. It then continues past Grande Cache Lake and Peavine Lake, mainly on quad trails and including a section along a ridge with a spectacular view of Peavine Lake and the mountains of Willmore Wilderness Park. After crossing Washy Creek and skirting the north end of the CN rail yard through a deep mud bog, enter the first full aid station and relay exchange zone. Cut off Time: 12 NoonSecond leg, 27 km: Flood & Grande Mountain Slugfest Includes about.1 km of pavement. The rest is dirt trail with rocky and swampy sections, and approximately 6 km of hard packed dirt road.. Net elevation gain is 500 feet, but the total elevation change is well over 6000 feet. This leg of the race is characterized by long sustained climbing with about 3 km of very rough terrain and two creek crossings. The trail from the summit of Flood Mountain to the summit of Grande Mountain is the roughest piece of trail in the Death Race. The power line down the front of Grande Mountain leading back into town is the most dangerous part of the entire course. This is due to the steep, rocky drop-offs and unstable footing while running downhill. The Slugfest is the most technical section and is rated the second hardest leg of the Death Race (although many rate this leg as the hardest of all). The Near Death Marathon course bypasses the Flood Summit Loop but otherwise is the exact same Legs 1 and 2 and finishes at the Start/Finish Line at the end of Leg 2. Cut off Time: 5:30 pm.Third leg, 19 km: Old Mine Road (or “City Slicker Valley”) Includes 5 km of pavement: the rest is dirt road with several creek crossings. One creek runs right down the trail as you descend the first part of the Mine Road., making for very slippery, rocky terrain for 30 meters. This section passes through the lowest point in the race, hitting the very bottom of the Smoky River valley floor, with knee deep water for 25 meters. (If it’s a wet summer, it's worse.) With a net elevation loss of about 1000 feet, this section is the fastest and easiest of the race and one of the most beautiful, offering stunning views of the Smoky River valley. Cut off Time: 7 pm. Fourth leg, 38 km: Hamel AssaultThis is mostly dirt trail and hard packed gravel. While the net elevation gain is zero, the total elevation change is well over 6500 feet, which comes practically all at once. The ascent of Mount Hamel (elevation: 6,986 feet) is broken into two very long climbs, with one small reprieve as you gain the shoulder of the mountain at the mid-point. You will pass the Hamel Escape station where racers can bail out if they've had enough (Cut off Time 10:15 pm). At the forestry tower on the summit of Mount Hamel runners check in and then continue toward the spectacular cliff bluffs at Hell's Canyon, where they must retrieve a prayer flag as proof they have made the turnaround point. The descent is strewn with boulders and deep ruts. The downhill is not that technical, but any falls will be on very unforgiving ground. (Read the waiver section about being in remote areas and not being rescued in time to prevent serious injury or death.) This entire leg is fantastically scenic. Cut off Time: 4:15 amFifth and final leg, 22km, The River CrossingIncludes 1 km pavement, 6 km gravel road, and a river crossing. The rest dirt trail, grass, and single track. Net elevation change of over 2500ft. This section runs from the Northwest end of the Hell’s Gate Access Road southward to the Sulphur Gates Road, across from the Hell’s Gate emergency aid station. It crosses the Hell’s Gate road and heads down to the Boat Launch road . Runners will be ferried across the Smoky River. There is an emergency aid station on the west bank of the river. From the raft crossing, racers will proceed up the east shore of the Smoky River and follow the trail to the Sulphur Rim trail. The course passes the Firemen's park, heads up Firemen's Park Road and continues to the Finish line in the Grande Cache town square. Please note: For most runners this leg will be completed in darkness with much of the trail under a heavy canopy of trees, so eye protection is required. Although this section is well marked with reflective markers, flags and signs, we recommend you bring a halogen headlamp with brand new alkaline batteries. Daylight training on this part of the course is highly recommended.
Runners will pass over three mountain summits and a major river crossing at the spectacular Hell's Gate canyon at the confluence of the Smoky and Sulphur Rivers. Extreme athletes, individually and in relays, push themselves to the limits of their endurance against the breathtaking background of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
Equipment drop off at the Ambler Loop Emergency Aid Station. Runners may elect to have a small bag of equipment and food items sent to this emergency aid station, which will be attended by volunteers only. If you wish to drop off a small equipment bag (ex. headlamp, rain gear, extra food and drink) at the Ambler loop emergency aid station, your drop bag must be clearly marked with your race number on the outside.
The timing system consists of a finger timing SI card (small plastic finger “stick”) device that is inserted at each timing station. When successfully inserted into the station (punched in) the station box will beep to confirm the acceptance of your entry and will record your time on both the timing station and on your SI Card (stick). Make sure that you wait for 2 beeps. Results are then given directly to the central timing database and will be uploaded to our website and available for near instant viewing either on-line or posted regularly at our downtown race results station as relay stations close and results come in. The SportIdent system has vastly improved the accuracy of all timing results, and will track racers all the way through the course and will also easily allow us to spot potential cheaters that fail to register at any timing station and improve the safety aspects of the race as missing racers will quickly be identified.