It was -43 Celsius in Southern Manitoba last weekend, and many people rightfully decided it was just too cold to go outside.
Yet, some Manitobans, and a few visitors, decided to compete in an outdoor event.
No, these adventurous souls are not foolhardy, and many are not even accomplished athletes. It is their courage that distinguishes them, and qualifies them to be a member of this group.
For the second time, Craig Desjarlais of Winnipeg won the running division of Actif Epica, a winter ultramarathon where Manitobans trek from St. Malo, up through the Crow Wing Trail to the Forks, under the power of foot, bike or ski.
“This year’s race was the most punishing for me“ says Desjarlais . “Hearing of the mechanical problems experienced by the cyclists due to the cold made me marvel at the abilities of the human body.”
Desjarlais is also one of only three people to ever complete the event by both foot and bicycle. He is also the current foot record holder of the event, and he has competed in all four annual events.
Desjarlais, a proud Manitoba Metis, wears his sash as he traverses the very same trading route that his forefathers did for hundreds of years.
“The race holds significance to me because of my Metis heritage. The final few kilometers on the Red River Trail and the finish line at The Forks couldn’t be more fitting for me. Actif Epica is a unique opportunity for me to celebrate my ancestry and a sport I love.”
In only her second year of being serious about ultramarathons, Mallory Richard has already gained numerous women’s titles to her credit, with this Actif Epica being her first for 2015.
“I’m really pleased with my race,” says Richard. “It was the first race I’ve ever run where I had a friend (first Alain, then Steven) beside me the whole time and I think that was a good strategy for coping with the extreme cold and course navigation. I was in rough shape the day after the race, but it was 100 percent worth it.
“Next up for me will be Spruce Woods, maybe the 50 mile. That event is so much fun that I need to be there. After that I’m registered for the Black Hills 100 in June and Canadian Death Race in August. I’d better start training for hills,” she adds.
The local fatbike favourite Dan Lockery and Ontario native Adam Fredrickson shared the top position in the bike division.
Lockery was fresh from two previous great rides where he was second on the podium during the gruelling 150 mile Wisconsin’s Tuscobia Ultra and a finish in the always challenging Minnesota’s Arrowhead 135. Lockery and Fredrickson rode in together with a time of 8 hours and 49 minutes.
“The colder weather and extreme wind chill presented a new challenge for AE this year,” says Lockery. “Relying on some previous experience and a few last minute gear/clothing adjustments, I was thankfully able to remain mostly comfortable and have a good time out on the bike.
“The fun factor of riding in winter on a fat bike keeps me coming back,” he adds. “Interest and support in the community has been on the rise and resulted in a great turn out this past year for the local celebration of ‘Annual Global Fatbike Day’ in December (hosted and organized by FatTomK and FatJason).”
For the third time, Andrea Tetreault placed first in the women’s bike division. Tetreault has won this event in 2012, 2014 and this year.
Tetreault was also one of the principle organizers of the hugely successful Cyclocross National Championchips that were held at the Forks last fall. Her stalwart performance has ensured Winnipeg will have another Cyclocross Nationals this fall, and the entire country is unofficially acknowledging Winnipeg and Manitoba as the hub for Cyclocross action.
And finally, there were five people given a special award for entering and completing all three central North America Winter Ultra Marathons. They are Lynn Estes from Eagan, Minnesota, Dan Lockery from Winnipeg, Pete McAdams from Crystal Springs (Manitoba Hutterite Community), Steve Tannen from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Sue Lucas from Dauphin.
Lucas was not only given the award, she crushed the competition at the Tuscobia 150 by setting a new course record, and beating all entrants in the running division, with a time of 42 hours. She is an amazing local athlete.
Another blog, called Trails and Travails, comes from Tim Baur of Fargo, North Dakota, who competed in the bike division.
As well, the folks at Woodcock Cycle are putting on a race at the Forks on Sat. Feb. 21 at 11 a.m. – IceBike 2015.
All photos by Gregory McNeill