A young cyclist is seen on the Mt. McIntyre trails in 2018. The Mt. McIntyre area is expected to serve as the site for the Canadian Marathon Championships in 2023. (Yukon News file)

A young cyclist is seen on the Mt. McIntyre trails in 2018. The Mt. McIntyre area is expected to serve as the site for the Canadian Marathon Championships in 2023. (Yukon News file)

National cycling championship will come north

Cycling Canada selects Whitehorse for Canadian Marathon Championships

More than 100 of the nation’s best mountain bikers will descend on the territory’s best trails in 2023.

Cycling Canada has selected Whitehorse as the location for the 2023 Canadian Marathon Championships.

The Sept. 15 to 17, 2023 event will mark the end to the Canadian Mountain Bike Championships, one of 11 Canadian Championships to be held across the country and the first such championship event to be held in the territory.

“We are thrilled to confirm the dates and locations of our 2023 Canadian Championships calendar,” said Josh Peacock, director of marketing and events at Cycling Canada. “The 2023 championship calendar represents an exciting expansion of the Canadian Championship portfolio into new territory, reaching as far east as Nova Scotia and as far north as Yukon for the first time.

“Our local organizing committees across the country have been selected as some of the best in the business to showcase each respective discipline at the highest level on the Canadian domestic calendar and we’re thrilled to see these events come to life.”

The Cycling Association of the Yukon, which is the governing body for cycling in the territory, will organize the marathon event.

“It’s a big deal,” association president Geof Harries said in an Aug. 4 interview about the championships coming to the territory for the first time.

Typically events hosted by the cycling association see Yukon athletes competing against one another. To be part of any national event, Yukoners have to travel Outside. This will provide an opportunity for Yukoners experience a national event on home turf. Harries said that while the main event will be the national competition, the weekend will be a celebration of cycling with a number of other races and festivities for youth and kids.

It was at a Cycling Canada congress event last year that representatives from each region of the country gave a presentation about their province or territory. Harries spoke about the Yukon, providing details and photos for the extensive mountain bike trails, many that have been built by volunteers.

“Cycling Canada was quite impressed,” he said as he highlighted a number of positive comments he heard from the national cycling community about the territory’s trails.

That prompted him to start considering the possibility of a national event in Whitehorse. After asking about the selection process, he looked at whether support was there from others in the Yukon cycling community to host. He soon confirmed the community would be behind it.

Work soon began on getting everything together to apply for a few different national races with the marathon being selected for Whitehorse.

Exactly how many mountain bikers will travel to Whitehorse isn’t known, but Harries said the Yukon has a bit of mystique to it so it’s anticipated there will be at least 100, probably more.

As for the precise route of the championships, Harries said that it is still being finalized though it’s anticipated it will be at Mt. McIntyre off Hamilton Boulevard. The race must meet certain standards such as proximity to emergency services, be within a certain distance to facilities, among others with Mt. McIntyre being the best location to meet those standards.

The association will also be looking for about 40 volunteers and while Harries said there’s already quite a few committed to helping out, the association will be looking for more. Details on how to get involved will be released soon.

Marathon courses typically range from 65 kilometres to 120 kilometres with the first person to cross the finish line named as the new Canadian Champion and awarded the coveted maple leaf jersey.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com