Welcome to our annual round-up of loppets and marathons across North America with an emphasis on participation and fun.
CANADA 1. Reino Keski-salmi Loppet Jan. 14, Salmon Arm, B.C.
This Classic-only loppet in eastern B.C. marks its 33rd anniversary in 2017. Beginning in 1985 as the Larch Hills Marathon, it was re-named in 1987 to honour Reino Keski-salmi, a Canadian of Finnish descent who excelled in cross-country races, but died tragically in a 1985 helicopter crash. Both competitive and recreational skiers are welcome to this event, which has been affiliated with the Heart & Stroke Foundation since its inception. Distances vary from 1km for participants under age of four to 34km for seniors, while para-nordic entrants can choose their distance. 250-832-8676; email@example.com.
2. Nipika/toby Creek Nordic Loppet Weekend Jan. 28-29, Nipika Day Lodge, Invermere, B.C.
Renamed the Nordic Loppet Weekend, these two back-to-back loppets, co-hosted by Nipika Mountain Resort and Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club, are now part of the Kootenay Cup. It features a 30km Classic loppet on the Saturday, followed by a 20km freestyle loppet on Sunday. These family-friendly events also feature recreational distances of 15km on Saturday and 10km on Sunday, as well as youth and children's distances. Trails follow the Kootenay and Cross rivers; expect some challenging climbs and technical descents interspersed with nice flats and beautiful views. Awards and a post-race barbecue are featured on both days. 877-647-4525/250-342-6516; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://nipika.com/ nipika-mountain-resort-loppet/.
3. Canadian Birkebeiner Feb. 10-11, Blackfoot Recreation Area, near Edmonton, Alta.
Billed as the greatest adventure on snow, the Canadian Birkie honours the spirit of the Norwegian Birkebeiner legend. The Birkie features superb events and ski distances for all ages and abilities: 55km Birkie with pack, 55km Birkie Lite, 31km Tour, 13km Mini Birkie and un-timed 2.5km or 4km Ole's Tour. New this year is a 40km skate event. Also enjoy the ever-popular Nordic Fair, Festival Tent and Vikings' Feast. Canadian Birkebeiner Society: 780-430-7153; email@example.com; canadianbirkie.com.
4. Canadian Ski Marathon Feb. 10-12, Gatineau, Que. (near Ottawa, Ont.) to Lachute, Que.
Founded in 1967, the Canadian Ski Marathon (CSM) will celebrate its 51th anniversary in 2017. North America's longest and oldest Nordic ski festival, the CSM hosts approximately 2,000 skiers each year for a two-day, 160km Classic-only event through the Laurentian Mountains of western Quebec. It is not a race, and skiers can choose to ski from 12km to 160km over the weekend. Skiers of all ages and abilities are welcome, with events ranging from the CSM Taster, designed for loppet beginners, right up to the Coureur des Bois Gold category that requires participants to ski the entire 160km while carrying a 5kg pack and sleep outdoors on the Saturday night. CSM: 1-877-770-6556; firstname.lastname@example.org; csm-mcs.com.
5. Boreal Loppet Feb. 18, Forestville, Que. (325km NE of Quebec City)
Featuring distances of 4km, 7km, 11km, 13km, 27km and 60km for both Classic and freestyle events, the Boreal's signature 103km event – billed as “the longest one-day Nordic race worldwide” – will again not be held in 2017. This year features two fatbike races, 16km and 32km, to be held following the departure of the last skiers. 418-587-4160; info@borealloppet. ca; borealloppet.ca.
6. Gatineau Loppet Feb. 17-19, Gatineau, Que. (near Ottawa, Ont.)
Founded in 1977, the Gatineau Loppet is billed as “Canada's biggest international cross-country skiing event”; it is also Canada's most prestigious loppet. Held in Gatineau Park, approximately 3,000 skiers will participate over three days of racing that feature Classic (5km, 15km, 27km and 51km) and freestyle (10km, 27km and 51km) courses, as well as a Mini 2km race for children. Sunday, Feb. 19 sees snowshoe races (2.5km, 5km and 10km). Both of the Gatineau Loppet's Classic and freestyle 51km courses are part of the Worldloppet Series and are sanctioned by Cross Country Canada for the Canadian Points List. The Gatineau Loppet also serves as the Canadian Long Distance Loppet Championship. Register online or onsite that weekend: 819-778-5014, ext. 232; email@example.com; gatineauloppet.com.
7. Sigge's P'ayakentsut Feb. 25, Callaghan Valley (near Squamish, B.C.)
Organized by the Callaghan Valley Cross Country Ski Club, the Sigge's “P'ayak” events feature the Classic or freestyle (15km, 30km and 50km), the Classic sit-ski 10km and the Classic or freestyle youth 15km. There are also activities for children 4-14. P'ayakentsut means “a place to train oneself physically” in the local Squamish language, and is the inspiration behind this event, now in its fifth annual edition. Main loppet events remain on the Saturday, with the children's events on the Sunday. The race courses begin in the same stadium used for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and follow trails used for the Olympic biathlon competition. Sigge's P'ayak is proud to be a qualifier for the prestigious American Birkebeiner. 604-962-1290; firstname.lastname@example.org; payak.ca.
8. Don Allen Saskaloppet March 3-4, La Ronge, Sask.
This year marks the 34rd annual Don Allen Saskaloppet, Saskatchewan's premier loppet. In 1970, Don Allen and his friends had a dream, so they formed the La Ronge Ski Club, started a racing team and founded the Saskaloppet. Allen's ski spirit lives on with loppet participants returning annually, while community groups dress up in outlandish costumes or offer original snacks. The tour and/or race categories range from 5km, 8km, 13km, 20km, 35km and 45km up to 75km for the Kupesewin Marathon and Sasquatch (completed over two days with overnight camping). Saskaloppet Committee: 306-425-2807; register at zone4.ca; larongeskiclub.ca.
9. Sleeping Giant Loppet March 4, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park (Thunder Bay, Ont.)
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Sleeping Giant Loppet at Kamview Nordic Centre offers recreational and competitive skiers a variety of distances, including the family-friendly 8km mini-loppet, a 20km scenic ski route circling Marie Louise Lake, a 35km course that is both scenic and challenging, as well as the 50km Classic or freestyle events. For 2017, cash prizes are back and will awarded in the 50km freestyle event. Also the first female and male in five-year age categories will receive a unique 2017 Loppet toque. All this is followed by a pancake-breakfast awards ceremony on Sunday. The park is named after a large rock formation that resembles a sleeping giant. 807-629-0649; email@example.com; sleepinggiantloppet.ca.
10. Wabos Loppet March 4, Wabos, Ont. (near Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.)
The Wabos Loppet begins in the lumber town of Wabos. There, skiers begin an uninterrupted 27km course that leads through the woods over two lakes and several beaver ponds to Sheppard Lake, where tea and oranges are served. The rest of the course is on groomed cross-country trails leading to Norm's Cabin at the edge of Bone Lake, where skiers enjoy refreshments of tea and cookies. The last part of the trip takes participants to Stokely Creek Lodge for a festive celebratory barbecue and live entertain- ment. Please note that participants will no longer be picked up by bus from Sault Ste. Marie and must continue to Stokely, where ample parking is available. 866-786-5359 or 705-649-3421; firstname.lastname@example.org; www. stokelycreek.com.
11. Fischer Loppet Festival March 4, Barrie, Ont.
The annual Hardwood Fischer Loppet features courses for the 15km and 30km freestyle and Classic events rolled into one amazing day of racing, with children's races in the afternoon. This loppet is a favourite of racers of all ages to work toward all winter. The new course features a mix of gentle rolling and challenging terrain through the forests of Oro Medonte and is suited to skiers of all levels and abilities. There will also be Fischer ski-tuning, waxing and equipment demos. After the races, participants are treated to a huge spread of food during the prize ceremony. Hardwood receives more than 300cm of snow each season and features trails with great grooming. 800-387-3775; email@example.com; hardwoodskiandbike.ca.
12. PAL Great Labrador Loppet April 1, Labrador City, Nfld.
A prestigious and popular community event, the PAL Great Labrador Loppet is hosted by the Menihek Nordic Ski Club in the beautiful Labrador wilderness. This year will be the 42nd edition. Skiers and snowshoers, young and old, can participate in one of three events – 10km, 28km or 50 km, whatever your pleasure. The Loppet kicks off in Fermont, Que. and finishes in Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador. The trail is groomed for both Classic and free techniques with refreshment stations positioned along the way. A 5km trail will be introduced to participants for the 2017 edition. A post-race banquet features award presentations, a delicious steak supper and the opportunity to dance the night away. 709944-5842 or 709-944-1802; firstname.lastname@example.org.
13. Vancouver Island Loppet April 1, Mount Washington (near Courtenay, B.C.)
This event features fabulous scenery on the trails at the Mount Washington Nordic Centre, a ski destination with unique attractions that include deep snowpacks, ocean views and old-growth forest in picturesque Strathcona Park. In 2017, more than 200 participants are expected to attend the 35th annual Loppet. Featured distances include 2km Cookie, 5km youth, 15km recreational or 30km freestyle events. This year will also introduce a 5km and 10km snowshoe event and a ski playground with organized activities that will keep the kids busy while parents are out skiing the Loppet. Registration opens on Feb. 20 on webscorer.com. info@ strathconanordics.com; strathconanordics.com.
USA 14. UP Health System Noquemanon Ski Marathon Jan. 28-29, Marquette, Mich.
The UP Health System Noquemanon Ski Marathon is a 50km Classic, freestyle and relay ski race, taking skiers from Ishpeming to Marquette on Jan. 28. The same day, there are 24km and 12km Classic, freestyle and snowshoe races using part of the Noquemanon course. The course is spectacular, with granite outcroppings, Lake Superior vistas, plentiful snow, a waterfall, a 1,000-foot descent over the last 25 kilometres and friendly volunteers. There are children's races on Friday, while Sunday (Jan. 29) sees fatbike, skijor (one or two dogs) and snowshoe races. 866-370-RACE; email@example.com; noquemanon.com.
15. Craftsbury Marathon Jan. 28, Craftsbury Common, Vt.
Now in its 36th year, the Craftsbury Marathon is the premier ski event of the East, featuring 16.5km, 33km and 50km Classic-only races and a 33km touring division. For 2017, the marathon course is a 16.5km loop starting and finishing at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center Ski Stadium. Extensive trail work has been done over the past several seasons to upgrade the entire course so that it can be groomed by a Pistenbully. There are feed stations every four to seven kilometres, and after the finish, all participants are treated to a hearty post-race meal and awards. This event is part of the prestigious American Ski Marathon Series and the New England Marathon Series. For many years, it has been proclaimed by the State Chamber of Commerce as one of the top-10 winter events in Vermont. 802-5867677; firstname.lastname@example.org;craftsbury.com/skiing/marathon/home.htm.
16. City of Lakes Loppet Feb. 3-5, Minneapolis, Minn.
An urban cross-country-ski festival, the City of Lakes Loppet is a winter event for the entire family that features the beautiful trails and lakes of the Twin Cities. This celebration of winter includes the 42km freestyle and Hoigaard's Classic 42km Marathon, the 21km Puoli Classic, 10km Classic Loppet Tour and the Penn Ice-cycle Loppet on Saturday. Sunday sees the Columbia Sportswear 42km skate, skijoring and dog-sled races, etc. Other events feature snow sculptures, ski games for children 12 and under, the Finn Sisu Sprints, Junior Loppet, Minne-loppet, Luminary Loppet, Snowshoe Loppet, Speed-skating Loppet, Fat Tire Loppet, an expo, awards, a beer garden and much more. 800-830-9441; email@example.com; cityoflakesloppet.com.
17. Boulder Mountain Tour Feb. 4, Sun Valley (near Ketchum, Idaho)
Starting at Idaho's rustic Galena Lodge, the popular 34.3km Zion's Bank Boulder Mountain Tour (BMT), one of the shortest American Ski Marathon Series events, parallels Highway 75 as it flows steadily down to the finish. Now in its 42nd year, the BMT'S course is gently rolling and has an elevation drop of 1,100 feet over its 21-mile length; spectacular views of the surrounding mountains unfold continuously with each and every turn. It is the jewel of the annual Sun Valley Nordic Festival that runs from Jan. 29-Feb. 7. Cash prizes are awarded to the top finishers in the men's and women's races. The 15km “Half-boulder” event begins at Baker Creek and finishes with the rest of the field. HALF-BMT participants will have the option to be timed. Sunday sees a demo day from the BMT sponsors. New for 2017, all registered BMT racers will receive the Boulder Pass, giving free access to more than 200 kilometres of groomed trails from Feb. 2-5. firstname.lastname@example.org; bouldermountaintour.com.
18. North American Vasa Feb. 11-12, Traverse City, Mich.
The 41st annual North American Vasa presented by Short's Brewing Company has made some changes for the 2017 event, with “Freestyle Saturday” and “Classic Sunday.” All freestyle and fatbike races will be held Saturday, while all Classic races will be held on the Sunday. Racing will also take place in the reverse direction of the traditional course, and include new trails. Michigan's premier cross-country-ski event offers athletes of all abilities the opportunity to experience a wonderful day of skiing on ultimate groomed trails among towering white pines through the pristine serenity of the Pere Marquette State Forest. Saturday's events feature 11km, 28km and 48km freestyle races, as well as Junior Vasa events and 10km and 42km fatbike races. Sunday sees the 6km Classic tour, along with 6km, 16km and 34km Classic races, with the latter two events counting toward the Michigan Cup. 231-633-1054; email@example.com; vasa.org.
19. Mora Vasaloppet Feb. 11-12, Mora, Minn.
The signature race day is Saturday (Feb. 11), featuring the 58km freestyle, 42km Classic, 35km freestyle, 13km Teamloppet and the 13km freestyle races. The first North American male and female finishers in the 58km race can win a free trip to Sweden's Vasaloppet or $1,000. The race finishes in downtown Mora, where snow is dumped onto the town's main street. The event is the largest in Minnesota and features gently rolling wooded countryside without steep hills. For 2017, new trails and snowmaking equipment have been added in the event of low snow. There are also 38km and 10km fat-tire bike races on Sunday (Feb. 12). Returning again is the skijoring race, as well as the children's Minnloppet. There's also a Friendship Tour and Mini-loppet, which are all part of one of the biggest winter athletic events in the U.S.A. 800-368-6672; firstname.lastname@example.org; vasaloppet.us.
20. Minnesota Finlandia Feb. 18, Bemidji, Minn.
Starting near the headwaters of the Mississippi River, the 35th annual Finlandia Ski Marathon offers the beautiful old-growth woods of northern Minnesota, passing several frozen lakes along the way. Events include the Minnesota Finlandia 50km, Classic 25km, Bemidjithon 25km, 25km Pursuit and the First National Bank Northwoods 10km Tour. 218-751-0041; email@example.com; minnesotafinlandia.com.
21. American Birkebeiner Feb. 23-26, Cable/hayward, Wis.
The Slumberland American Birkebeiner is the longest, most prestigious cross-country-ski race in North America and a member of the 13-nation Worldloppet League. The two premier events are the Swix Birkie 50km skate and 55km Classic races from Telemark Resort in Cable to downtown Hayward, Wis. Other events include the 23km Kortelopet for skiers aged 13 and older, the 12km Prince Haakon, 5km family ski, snowshoe and adaptive (para-nordic) races, etc. Some 13,000 participants are expected over the weekend. 800-872-2753;firstname.lastname@example.org; birkie.com.
22. Lake Placid Loppet Feb. 25, Lake Placid, N.Y.
Since 1982, the Lake Placid Loppet (LPL) has established itself as one of the premier events of its kind in the country, featuring the challenging Mount Van Hoevenberg trails at the Olympic Sports Complex. The 34th edition includes 25km and 50km races for both Classic and freestyle skiers, which are run on a slightly modified version of the 50km course constructed for the 1980 Winter Olympics. The three-day festival includes waxing and ski clinics, orienteering, a cocktail party and Saturday dinner. LPL is a quali- fier for the American Birkebeiner and a member of the NENSA Marathon Series. email@example.com; http://www.lakeplacid.com/events/34th-annuallake-placid-loppet-and-kort-loppet.
23. Pepsi Challenge March 4, Biwabik, Minn.
The 33rd annual Pepsi Challenge Cup Race at Giants Ridge Golf and Ski Resort has a reputation for world-class race trails and snow-grooming. The Ridge has held the World Cup, Olympic Trials, National Collegiate Finals and USA National Championships. The Pepsi Challenge Cup is a 48km freestyle race with companion events to accommodate skiers at every level, including a 48km Classic, 24km Classic, 24km freestyle and Giants Ridge 10km. Part of the American Ski Marathon Series, the event serves as a Birkie qualifier. 800-688-7669 ext. 8072; firstname.lastname@example.org; pepsichallengeskirace.com/pepsi.php.
24. Yellowstone Rendezvous Race March 4, West Yellowstone, Mont.
Montana's Yellowstone Rendezvous Race is held on the beautifully groomed, rolling terrain of the Rendezvous Ski Trails offering fantastic scenery and snow conditions. There are six different races to choose from depending on your age and ability: 2km, 5km, 10km, 25km Classic, 25km and 50km, all of which run concurrently – skiers of all ages and abilities participate every year. The course features a 25km loop starting at the Povah Community Center (500 yards from the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park) and running through the Galatin National Forest on the Continental Divide; with an average visibility of 160 kilometres, the terrain is not considered difficult. An awards ceremony will be held at the Holiday Inn West Yellowstone. 406-646-7265; email@example.com; skirunbikemt.com.
25. Tour of Anchorage March 5, Anchorage, Alaska
Billed as a premier ski marathon, the Tour of Anchorage (Alaska) is part of the American Ski Marathon Series, North America's longest-running and largest Citizens' racing and touring series. The Tour is a point-to-point cross-country-ski marathon that is at sea level. There are four events: a 25km Classic race and 25km, 40km and 50km freestyle races – you are also able to Classic ski the 40km or 50km races. In each event, abilities range from top National ski racers to recreational skiers challenging themselves with just going the distance. The 40km and 50km start on the east side of Anchorage and go through the middle of town along its bike trails. The 25km race starts in the middle of town and uses the same course. All the races finish at Kincaid Park. Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage, 907-2767609; firstname.lastname@example.org; tourofanchorage.com.
Nipika/toby Creek Nordic Loppet Weekend
PAL Great Labrador Loppet
American Birkebeiner David Norris (USA) 2016 winner
Lake Placid Loppet