Bentley-based relay team endures grueling North Face Canadian Death Race, and survives to tell about it

  • Aug. 13, 2008 6:00 a.m.
The Bentley-based team of  (left to right) Jason Hazlett

The Bentley-based team of (left to right) Jason Hazlett

Review staff

They don’t call it a, Death Race for nothing, especially at a total length of 125 kilometres that crosses three mountains reaching elevations of 17,000 feet and ends on a 4,200-foot plateau.

On top of that, participants are also forced to endure crossing a number of creeks and rivers – one with the assistance of a boat, and if that isn’t tough enough, they also have to complete the entire trek in less than 24 hours.

Luckily for them, most are on teams of five with each individual running one of the race’s five legs.

It’s better known as the North Face Canadian Death Race, and for Jason Hazlett and his Bentley-based team, it’s a very appropriate name.

“It was definitely scary. I trained all winter in marathon training in Red Deer for the Woody’s Marathon, but in reality, I was actually training for this race,” Hazlett said shortly after returning home. “It involves climbing mountains, descending mountains at incredible speeds – in some place you literally can’t walk down; you’re on your butt and you’re sliding down. They actually hope it rains a little bit so there’s less friction on your backside.”

Held near Grand Cache in the Rocky Mountains, the race also featured crossing the Hell’s Gate canyon as well as the Smoky and Sulphur Rivers, and is designed to test the endurance of some of the world’s most elite adventure racing athletes.

Featuring five separate legs, most of the athletes entered as teams of five however said some, including a woman from Ireland actually completed the course solo and was still able to finish within the race’s 24-hour time limit.

“You’ve also got to run down creeks – not across creeks but actually run in the creeks, and there’s other areas such as the Slug Fest in Leg 2, which is actually a bog that goes on for two or three kilometres where you’re basically stepping in six to eight inches of mud,” Hazlett added. “You’re hope is – and it’s happened to many racers, that you don’t lose a shoe because if you do, you’re done because then you’re back running on rock, but you only have one shoe and as a result, the entire team is out of the race.”

As for recovering, the teacher from the Bentley School said it’s a little more involving than simply resting for a few days.

Went from 192 to 186

“You’re very stiff, usually about a day after and it’s mostly in your upper thighs and calves. I’ve never experience my ribcage on both the left and right side of my body, being as sore as it is now,” he said. “I’ve been in quite a few races in the last couple of months and I’ve never had pain in my upper body, but we figured it’s because in some places, you’re crawling on all fours and pulling yourself up cliffs and stuff. You’re working your body by grabbing onto branches and pulling yourself up.”

In his case, Hazlett said he went from 192 pounds at the beginning of the race down to 186 and he only ran in one leg while his teammates – Joe McKeen, Marsha Lush, Steve Lush and Karen Mullen completed the other legs.

Continued on page 24

Of note, Hazlett said Mullen was a last minute-addition when another member of the team – known as Beauty and the Beasts, was forced to pull out, and the move paid off big time. As a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, Mullen and her husband – who also participated in the race with an all-male army team, are very experienced marathon and extreme runners, but on top of that, she also brought with her the entire strength of the army including food, supplies, First-Aid equipment and transportation as well as serving up the team a steak dinner at the conclusion of the race.

For more information on the north Face Canadian Death Race, check them out online at: