Last updated: 20-Aug-18
By Monique Poulin
Set in the beautiful Lakeland of Northern Alberta, the Iron Horse Ultra 100 is part of the Alberta Ultra Series. The race offers 100 miles of continuous trail. Whether you are racing solo or running as a team, this race offers a challenge to conquer the Iron Horse trail in the backcountry of the County of St. Paul.
Falling on the first weekend in October, it is the perfect location and season to run. The landscape is in the middle of full Fall beauty with unbeatable views of some of the most beautiful country around. They have it all – hills, ridges, river valleys, prairies and forests. They have you climbing cow fences, ducking through barbwire, running with the bulls (or cows anyway) and traversing the natural obstacles that any good trail race would have.
Race package pickup, briefing and social (including a supper!) is on Friday night. The race starts in the early morning pre-dawn at 7am. Timed perfectly, you can race the sunrise during the first leg of the race.
Awards and pancake breakfast are held on the Sunday morning as the last of the runners cross the finish line.
100 KM Course
A 5-legged journey this course is includes the Ridge (21K), Doggone Creek (17K), Moose Mountain (25K), Happy Hill (18), Homerun (18K). This course will leave you wondering why people think the prairies are flat. It is full of hills, breathtaking river valleys, fertile farms and ranches, and a beautiful vista if you can make it up the challenge of Moose Mountain. The hills on Happy hill trail are always said with a smirk (or grimace). We will let you guess why. With a blend of gravel, dirt, grass and Ironhorse trails, and the wonderful small-town community feel, this course will have you coming back for more.
100 Mile Course
Tacking on an additional 3 legs – Riverview (24K), Lindbergh Express (15K), Stoney (20K) – gives you a 100-mile course with 8 legs in total. This one is bound to leave you finishing in the dark. Continuing North East from Elk Point this section of the trail leads you along the North Saskatchewan River into some of the most beautiful scenery in the course – run the race fast and you may get to see it… otherwise you are in the dark by this point. You will pass historical points including old Fort George, loop you around a small hamlet. If you are lucky you will be joined by a race mascot – the iron horse dog – who will happily keep you company and run along with you for this section of the race. For the last two legs of the race, you will join back onto the 100K course to bring’er home.
Volunteers, Aid Stations and Race Day Community
One word. Wow.
This race has some of the best volunteers EVER. They work hard to make the event a success for all and to build a race day community that is second to none. For that day, we are all one family and everyone is in the race together. The volunteers are well organized by an amazing Race Director who is always on top to the situation and never seems to require sleep. The entire team is extremely dedicated to making this event as great as it can be. Aid stations are well stocked with amazing goodies and even homemade soup! More than the warm soup, the warmth and support of the volunteers really make this race AMAZING.
Words from the trail:
Oh snap – IHU was a first for us all. We didn’t really know the challenges that Lay before us. The hills, the cow patties, the amazing views and trails. Together our two teams conquered 200kms. Best volunteers and big shout out to the organizers, aid stations and our enthusiastic support team of 1who pumped us up and kept us straight – DC!
This was my third year in a row at this race (it was my first ultra!) and it just keeps getting better! Thanks to the entire team of volunteers and sponsors who made the race happen again this year. The time you spend doing this so other people can come run through this beautiful piece of Alberta is very much appreciated. – Brenda
Hugs and Thxs to all volunteers for creating a great challenge and a safe place to run through farmers’ fields, and through bush and trails while playing a game of find the next flag. Loved the event even more the second time around. From the Denwood Outdoor Athletics Team We will be back. – Helen Buzik
Thank you for such an amazing event the volunteers and director did an amazing job. I had to pull the plug at leg 3 it was a very hard choice but I want to race here again next year! I underestimated your course that will not happen again!! – Jay Kinsella