Standing on Banff Avenue, on a clear day, you can see three of the region’s iconic peaks: Cascade, Rundle and Sulphur. Summiting all three of these mountains in under 24 hours – starting and ending at The North Face store – has become the Banff Three Peaks Challenge. That’s 25,419 feet of elevation gain in just one day, and a distance of 70 kilometres when athletes run from peak to peak.
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.