If your New Year’s resolution is to get fit, to push yourself physically or try something a bit different, then look no further than Ontario’s Cottage Country. From running to biking, to swimming and paddling events, to adventure and endurance races – we have it all. Many of the event sign-ups are already underway so don’t miss out. See you at the finishing line!
Maple Hill Sap Run April 27, 2024 – Powassan
Held the weekend of the Powassan Maple Syrup Festival, the 2024 Maple Hill Sap Run will be held on April 27 with a 9am start and with 5km, 10km and kid’s 500m events.
Challenge the Shield – May 5 and September 8, 2024 – Parry Sound
May 5, 2024 is the 2nd annual Challenge the Shield Adventure Run. A two or six-hour wilderness endurance challenge on the rugged Canadian Shield on the Georgian Nordic Outdoor Activity Centre. Teams of two run or trek to as many of the 35 checkpoint challenges among the iconic windswept pines, pristine lakes and granite rock barrens as they choose. Each checkpoint is assigned a difficulty rating and points value and teams decide how many checkpoints they want to tackle. The “choose-your-own-adventure” points-based course design is both beginner-friendly and an epic challenge of strategy and adventure for even the most experienced teams. You decide the adventure!
The six-hour multi sport-adventure race in September follows a similar format but involves a trek, paddle or bike discipline. The race ends with an optional swim-run challenge.
Spin the Lakes – May 25, 2024 – Huntsville
This annual cycling tour consists of distances of 20km, 57km, 100km and 180km. Registration fee includes: bib, coffee and tea station, water and refreshment stations along the routes and finish line, support cars, first aid stations, a post ride lunch buffet provided by Hidden Valley Resort, entertainment and memento. Registration is open and the early bird deadline is on now until March 15, 2024.
Gravenhurst Triathlon and Duathlon – June 8 and 9 – Gravenhurst
Hosted at the Muskoka Wharf in Gravenhurst, it features one of the most unique ways of starting a race with a jump from the iconic Muskoka ship the Wenonah II. One of the most sought-after races on the calendar, the race has now moved to June to take advantage of quieter roads prior to the start of summer. The race features an Olympic distance course, a sprint race and a duathlon. The event sells out every year as it is limited by the capacity of the Muskoka Steamships, so be sure to register early to guarantee your spot! Registration is now open and early bird sign up closes February 2, 2024.
TriMuskoka – June 23, 2024 – Huntsville – SOLD OUT
TriMuskoka has been going since 2010 in the heart of Huntsville and was started when the annual 70.3 IronMan race held in the town decided drop a shorter race.
Rich Trenholm, the current medical director of the race, helped start it up and wanted to make sure it was a fun, safe and supportive event.
“The TriMuskoka is an event that you don’t want to miss,” says Trenholm. “As a club we sat down and looked at the elements of what makes a great race,” he explained. “We focused on the food, the swag, music, how spectators could interact; the environment we wanted to create. It wasn’t about the course. That all came later.”
Sign up is limited to 500 competitors and on the day, racers are treated to a professional DJ, a beer and buffet at the end of the race and a hoody. There is even a post-race massage area. The race centres around the Canada Summit Centre and involves an iconic start with a trip on the Portage Flyer – a short swim back to the Summit Centre, a bike ride down Brunel Road before finishing with a run around the surrounding property.
“People really seem to appreciate it,” says Trenholm. “We sell out quickly and see lots of familiar faces each year.”
The multi event day the race consists of a tri-a-try, a short course triathlon, a swim/bike race and a duathlon. Racers can also take part in a friends and family relay race and even a corporate relay challenge.
For these reasons, The TriMuskokan has sold out every year. In 2023, it sold out in a single month!
If you want to be a part of it all, sign up to join the TriMuskoka Club.
Limberlost Challenge – July 6, 2024 – Huntsville
Experience the very best trail courses in the region. The Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve is the trail runner’s dream with its challenging terrain that will take runners alongside pristine lakes, through a wetland with its tier of beaver dams, up and over some steep inclines and either tiptoeing or splashing through the occasional creek or mud hole.
Competitors will run through technical areas that will require the nimblest of footwork and on trails that allow you to open up to your best speed, plus everything in between.
The race course includes a 7k, 14k, 28k, 42k and 56k option. Registration for 2024 opens soon.
Bracebridge Triathlon and Duathlon – July 6 and 7, 2024 – Bracebridge
Utilizing the Muskoka River as the starting point for the swim, the race moves back into Annie Williams Park and towards the iconic Santa’s Village for the bike course before heading to the other side of the river for the running portions. The race features an Olympic-length course (1500m swim – 40km bike – 10km run) on the Saturday and The Sprint (750m swim – 20km bike – 5km run) and Give-It-A-Tri (400m swim – 10km bike – 2.5km run) races the following day.
Registration is now open and early bird sign up ends February 2.
Ironman 70.3 Muskoka – July 7, 2024 – Huntsville
Registration is now open for the premier athletic race in the region. The course is known for its stunning beauty and toughness. Swim through Fairy Lake, bike down Brunel Road and along Highway 117, before finishing with a run down Old Muskoka Road and crossing the finish line at the Canada Summit Centre.
The 2024 IRONMAN 70.3 Muskoka offers age group qualifying slots to the 2025 VinFast IronMan 70.3 World Championship in New Zealand.
Mudskipper SwimRun Challenge – July – Parry Sound
One of the newest kids on the block is the Parry Sound Mudskipper SwimRun Challenge.
Ian Feldman, president of Canaqua Sports that Runs the event, says this will be the second year the event will be held in Parry Sound and it is one of their favourite race venues.
The race starts at Waubuno Beach and compromises of a variety of distances of either 2km, 4km or 10km and features an open water swim, a running section before heading back into the water and finishing with a final run.
“I started doing triathlons 20 years ago,” said Feldman. “I’m a great swimmer, biking is not my strong point and then I finished with a strong run. I was talking to a friend who told me about this sport and I was hooked.”
One of the quirks of the Mudskipper race, named after a fish that is comfortable in and out of water, is that you are allowed to use devices that help you swim, such as paddles for your hands, or a pull buoy that helps a swimmer be more streamlined in the water, but the primary rule of the Mudskipper is you have to carry anything you use throughout the race.
“It is always interesting swimming with shoes on,” said Feldman.
According to Feldman, the race started in Sweden when two resort owners challenged each other to swim and run across the islands they could see from their archipelago. The race ended up being over a distance of 80km and it went from there. Traditionally racers went in teams of two and were tied together with and eight-foot rope to help each other along. The sport evolved into its present-day format.
“There are Swim Run races that still use the team format but we prefer the individual competition,” says Feldman. “I’m a former competitive swimmer, but my running is my weaker event, so finding someone at the same level can be a challenge.”
Canaqua Sports first held a race in 2017 in Sudbury with 35 entrants and the popularity of the event has been growing ever since. It now runs events from BC to Halifax and the Parry Sound race is a qualifier for the world championships.
Extreme Bush Race – August 4, 2024 – Sundridge
Run, walk or crawl across the finish line at this event at Copeman Tree Farm in Sundridge. A 5km race with 15 plus obstacles, including archery, axe throw, mud pit, cargo net climb, balance logs, sand hill, bush trails etc. This race can be done alone or with friends and family. Registration is on now.
Muskoka River X – September 14, 2024 – Whitney/Oxtongue – SOLD OUT
Dubbed “the toughest paddling race ever” with canoes, kayaks and paddleboards traversing river systems, lakes and 17 portages. It’s a total of 95 kilometres in less than 24 hours. No assistance, no support and no mercy. Each year more than a third of teams drop out. This year the classic Tripper Canoe and classic wooden paddle will be celebrated.
Registration opened in January 2024.
Muskoka Marathon – October 5, 2024 – Bracebridge
Set to the backdrop of Bracebridge, Ontario, the Muskoka Marathon is a great day of racing. The course is paved, flat, and an ideal spot for a personal best or hitting that Boston Marathon qualifying standard. Expect fall colours along the Muskoka River, great race-day energy, and a whole lot of camaraderie. Race options include: Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K, or 5K.
Registration is now open.
Wilderness Traverse – September 28 – 29, 2024 – Camp Pine Crest, Torrance
Wilderness Traverse is a 24-hour Adventure Race. Teams of three or four navigate using map and compass over 150 kilometers of rugged Canadian Shield back-country on foot, mountain bike and canoe. It is one of the toughest team-based endurance challenges around and simply reaching the finish line is a massive achievement.