FKT: Sean Bradley - Banff 3 Peaks Challenge (AB, Canada) - 2015-07-24

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Finish date
Total time
12h 12m 43s

A successful attempt at the Banff Triple FKT. Started off with Cascade first thing in the morning with Tom. Descending back to Banff in under 5 hours allowed us to re-fuel thanks to a mobile add station (thanks Glenn!!) and head to the trailhead for Rundle. Tom headed home to prepare for work and the next 3 hours became a dehydrated mental battle to continue or not. The approach in the trees was going well but once I began the monotonous slog up the 'Dragon's Back' I began to toy with the idea of quitting altogether. Despite taking a few breaks, I was able to keep putting one foot in front of the other and nearing the summit I found myself excited once again. After tagging the summit, I cruised down - taking some steep secondary trails to save time - and hit the trailhead feeling confident in achieving the FKT. I loaded up on water and made my way up to the hot springs for some food. After that I slowly, but steadily, made my way up to Sansons peak, tagged it, and gently cruised down to Banff Ave with 40 minutes to spare on the record. Very happy to be done, and many lessons learned. Next time bring more water up Rundle, push through the hard part (ascending Rundle), and make sure your iPod works - otherwise you get to listen to the same album 8x.

Though a handful of athletes have attempted and completed the route, MacNairn’s record wasn’t beaten until the summer of 2015 by Sean Bradley from Edmonton. After befriending a Bow Valley local and fellow ultrarunner, Tom Amaral, they began teaming up for different alpine objectives in the Bow Valley area.

“We’d been doing longer and longer outings to prepare for his race, the Mont Blanc Marathon, and we were trying to get creative with it,” said Bradley. “The Three Peaks Challenge was one idea he suggested.”

With agreeable weather, companionship, and a fresh ascent on a new mountain, Bradley said reaching Cascade’s summit was by far the biggest high point of the route that day.

“It blew me away,” said Bradley. “I’d never been up there before and it was definitely my favorite summit in the area thus far.” “It gave me some perspective to learning about the mountains in Banff as a person who’s relatively new to the area.”

Although he prepared the night before by stashing water at different areas in town, and having a friend deliver snacks and water by bike, Bradley continued on to ascend Rundle solo without any further support.

“Looking back on Rundle it was super enjoyable, but at the time I just hated it,” said Bradley. “The constant climb up the Dragon’s Back is very mentally draining, and I made the same mistake as Tom when he attempted the challenge. I didn’t bring enough water and got pretty gassed. I thought about turning back at several points.”

Once Bradley reached within 500m of the summit, he knew reaching the top was realistic. Upon doing so, the adrenaline rush and quick descent motivated him to carry on. “I was still on the buzz of getting the peak in, so thought I may as well go for it,” said Bradley, later returning to The North Face with a successful completion of the route in 12h 15m. Bradley said the route was more of a personal goal for him.

“I was aware of Ian’s time and that he had accomplished something totally respectable, because he did it in shoulder season climate,” said Bradley. “So, I knew my time would be realistic when I had basically perfect conditions.”