If you happen to be somewhere near downtown Winnipeg this weekend, don’t be alarmed if you catch a glimpse of a furry Yeti ushering in a stream of bleary-eyed cyclists on fat bikes and ice-crusted runners. It’s just the finish line of the Actif Epica, a 130-kilometer race along Manitoba’s Crow Wing Trail.
Now in its second year, the ultra-event challenges trail runners and cyclists to experience “icy temperatures, windswept trails, big skies and huge landscapes on a course that will take 12-24 hours to complete (for those who are able to complete it).” Most of the trail follows a wide path across the open prairie, where terrain is flat but winter winds can be fierce. The trail surface is a mixture of ice, packed snow, pavement, frozen gravel, and unconsolidated snow. Wind drifts commonly bury the trail and can be three feet deep or more.
“The typical winter weather in this part of Manitoba is frigid with subzero air temperatures, even dipping to -30 Celsius; however, windchill can result in effective temperatures of -50 or colder,” the Web site states. “Be ready for anything as an early thaw is always possible. Proper winter survival gear is critical. Five checkpoints offer shelter and water. Racers should plan to be self-sufficient between these checkpoints and to be prepared in case of mechanical or physical breakdown.”
The Actif Epica begins Saturday morning in St. Malo, Manitoba. Fourteen runners and thirty cyclists are listed on the roster. More information and results will be published at http://actifepi.ca.