This weekend saw the 9th edition of the Ultra-Trail Harricana™ take place in La Malbaie, Canada; the first sporting event to be held in Quebec since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the green light given from the local Ministry of Public Health, the organisers behind this year’s event ensured that all the necessary sanitary protocols were in place, in order to protect the athletes, volunteers, team members and everyone else involved.
The athletes, who set off in waves to enable social distancing, were required to wear masks at the start and finish lines, as well as at the refreshment stations along the way. The participants also had to carry sanitiser gel with them at all times. The number of people in the assistance teams was limited, and crowds were for the first time disallowed.
The participants were informed of the health guide in advance of the event, and were highly respectful of the rules on site, with certain runners duly pulling out because they were feeling ill and did not want to take any risks. They have all already been offered a bib for the 2021 event.
169 athletes had signed up for the 125km (151 men and 18 women) with 98 runners crossing the finishing line. The weather conditions were ideal, with mild temperatures and sunshine, however heavy rain from the previous days had made sections of the course muddy and slippery, including the descent from the Mount of Morios.
In the men’s race, it was David Savard-Gagnon who crossed the line in first place, on his fourth attempt at the 125km. A local athlete from the Charlevoix region, this year he was in it to win it, and prepared accordingly by training hard in the Traversée de Charlevoix mountains. Setting off in the first wave together with defending champions, Savard-Gagnon immediately took the lead. For nearly the entire race, the Bromont native Elliot Cardin was in close pursuit but never managed to overtake him and arrived a quarter of an hour behind the winner, with Frenchman Benoit Gaillard crossing in third.
Among the women, despite the favourite to win Alicia Woodside taking the lead to begin with, tiredness seemed to get the better of her in the end. Instead it was Catherine Lemire who achieved first place, having managed to keep a comfortable advantage over her close pursuers. This is a major victory for her, as the longest distance race she has completed to date. She crossed the line with an impressive 2h lead over Renée Hamel and 3h20 lead over Sylvie Ménard.
1- David Savard-Gagnon – 13:58:57
2 – Elliot Cardin – 14:14:15
3 – Benoit Gaillard – 15:26:25
1- Catherine Lemire – 20:10:13
2 – Renée Hamel – 22:12:28
3 – Sylvie Ménard – 23:30:00