It all started when former The North Face athlete and ultrarunner, Paul Wathan, was visiting Banff on a working holiday visa in 2013. Originally from the UK, Wathan had completed the Canadian Death Race on August 3, 2013 – a 125 km race with 17,000 feet of elevation.
During his recovery period, Wathan talked to co-workers at The North Face Banff about other routes he could complete before leaving the area. Running Cascade, Rundle, and Sulphur was one idea that came up.
“I was doing a bit of research and noticed that nobody had actually summited all three mountains consecutively, with running in between as well,” said Wathan.
And so Wathan set out on August 21, 2013, at 5 a.m. from The North Face with a full moon illuminating his route towards Cascade Mountain – a mountain he had never been on before. He made it back to The North Face in 3h54m, less than half of the time suggested to complete the trail.
Though starting off strong, Wathan hit his personal crux of the route ascending the second summit.
“It was really hot that day, and it all went a bit wrong on Rundle,” said Wathan. “I was only carrying a litre and a half of water, and I’d gone through it about halfway up, so that was definitely the low point of the challenge.”
Dehydration set in to the point of blurring his vision near the summit, and desperate for any relief, he coated his tongue in Vaseline to prevent it from sticking to the roof of his mouth.
“Luckily, as I was coming back down, one of the guys from The North Face was on the way up with some drinks for me. Otherwise it might’ve been a cancellation at that point,” said Wathan.
With body and motivation refueled, Wathan continued up Sulphur’s summit before heading back into the Banff townsite, with his girlfriend accompanying him on the last ten kilometres.