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Moose Mountain Trail Races set to take over West Bragg Creek this weekend

After being cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Moose Mountain Trail Races will make their return to West Bragg Creek and Kananaskis Country this weekend.

After being cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Moose Mountain Trail Races will make their return to West Bragg Creek and Kananaskis Country this weekend.

On Aug. 21, 150 trail runners will set off from the West Bragg Creek day-use area on a race that leads runners through the region's rocky and wooded trail system, all the way up to the summit of Moose Mountain in Kananaskis Country and back.

“We host multiple distances that cater to your first-time trail runner or someone just getting into trail running all the way up to your elite ultra runner,” said Kara Leinweber, the owner and director of Lewiston Ultra Events, who puts on the annual event. “We have a 16-kilometre (km), 29-km, 42-km and 50-km [race].”

One of the longest-running ultra trail events in western Canada, the Moose Mountain Trail Races began in 1993, according to Lewiston Ultra Events’ website, and was the brainchild of members of the Calgary Roadrunners Club. Leinweber said Jim Clampett, in particular, wanted to put together a trail race that promoted the West Bragg Creek trail system and brought members out to the area.

“He wanted to bring the roadrunners out to the trails at least once a year and set up something for them that would give back to the area and [be] a grassroots community event,” Leinweber explained. “To this day, it adheres to that. We still have volunteers that come out every year who were friends with Jim Clampett, who has passed since. They want to continue to support his vision.”

The yearly trail races have a capacity of 150 competitors, with the 50-km race capped at 25 participants. The races are always held on the third weekend of August, though it was cancelled due to pandemic-related restrictions in 2020.

Leinweber said partnering with local businesses and giving back to the community are important components of the Moose Mountain Trail Races. She said the event provides monetary donations to Bragg Creek Trails – the organization that oversees and maintains the region’s trail system – and similar organizations.

Adding to the local focus, she said participants who successfully finish their race receive finishers’ medals created by Bragg Creek-based artists.

When asked what draws trail runners to compete in the Moose Mountain Trail Races every summer, Leinweber cited the location.

“Bragg Creek Trails has created some gorgeous, world-class trails that are out there,” she said. “I think runners and volunteers really like coming out the area of Bragg Creek – the town is still very quaint and historic, and not very busy.”

She added recent and ongoing improvements to the West Bragg Creek trail system are also a hit among competitors.

“They have ample parking that allows us to have events like this without displacing the public and they have a very unique and inviting public information centre,” she said. 

“I think that whole set-up really encourages people to come out without fear of not being able to find parking.”

While registration is full for this weekend’s races, Leinweber said she is still seeking volunteers to help on the day of the event. She said she is looking for aid station volunteers, course martials, timers, and people to help with set-up and tear-down.

For trail runners who are disappointed they will not be able to take part in the Moose Mountain Trail Races this year, Leinweber noted Lewiston Ultra Events also puts on a similar race in the Shuswap every fall, and that registration for that event is still open. This year, the Shuswap race will be held Sept. 25 and 26.

For anyone who would like to compete in next summer’s Moose Mountain Trail Races, Leinweber said registration will open Jan. 12, 2022 and the races tend to fill up quickly.

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Scott Strasser

About the Author: Scott Strasser

Scott Strasser, editor
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