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mad trapper

Stories from the "Backyard"

Hey Mike!

I’m sorry I missed you on our way out. I wanted to thank you for the push to participate in this race.

I don’t know if you remember, but I wrote you before signing up. I asked you to tell me if I didn’t belong in this race, since the longest trail race I’d done was 25km. You told me that everyone belongs in this race because you just do as much as you can. I was nervous about the people who would be at the race, feeling again that I might not belong. But that feeling disappeared almost immediately when we arrived at The Ark. Everyone was kind and welcoming. 

I managed to keep up for 3 of the longer loops. Then decided I should switch to the shorter ones. Knowing I wasn’t in this to win, I had set a goal of 50km. I honestly thought it was a pipe dream. I’d be happy with 40km, but 50km would make me ecstatic. Throughout the course I told myself a few times that I might be done. But thanks to a few runners that I sort of latched onto as pacers (Adam, David, Shayne...), I kept on trucking. I had some good chats with them and got lots of encouragement.

I kept recalculating how many km I had achieved. At 40km I wanted more, wanted to make it an ultra. At 45(ish)km I could taste the 50, so I went out for more. And though there was much encouragement from others to keep going, I was so excited to have hit 50+km that I decided to stop. In retrospect, maybe I should have tried another lap. But that’s easy to say now that my legs are feeling better! 

Thanks again for hosting such a great event! I’ll be back next year!!


Not sure if this is inspiring. But it's something. And it cements your place as a special place for me. So thanks. Lots.

(Warning from the Mad Trapper.... - you may want some tissues handy when/if you read this. I know I needed them)


Earlier in the week my family decided to put down Dexter, our 16-year-old GOAT dog, who predates both of my children. The plan was to give him a peaceful send-off on Sunday evening— the day after The Mad Trapper Backyard Ultra. I intended to use the race to meditate on what an awesome dog he's been and to reflect on the great times. I did this during my run and came to a good place.

Minutes after I arrived home following the race he gave me a look that told me he needed my attention. I sat down with him and he had a seizure. He came out of it but we quickly took him to the emergency room to send him to a better place. The end came a day earlier than planned, but it was obviously time. 

I like to think that he waited for me to come home. And I will always link our amazing time together to running at the Ark.



Thank YOU for putting on this event.

My longest trail run prior to this was 25km and I had hoped originally to do 40km. I didn't get as much training mileage in as i wanted so my expectation on the day had dropped to 5 or 6 laps. In the end I managed 7 laps and almost immediately wished I had carried on for at least one more.

I loved this format. It allowed me to run further and longer than I had hoped but best of all it was FUN. Met some great people and had good talk time on the trail.

I will be 65 in a couple of months and I plan on coming back and running 50km next year.

Please tell the mosquitoes and deer flies not to attend next year. 


Wow... where do I start.... 

My bluff was called when I came from winning a flat "Last One Standing" to this super technical Backyard trail... but that was what attracted me and I really hoped I'd like it.... truth is ...I didn't really like it.... I loved it.

Exactly what I expected and more ... New country... New people ... but the same friendships and ultra knowledge to be learned and shared... this is why I just love this format. The reasons Mike stated.

I remember Young Lucas saying no to another lap... alot of people encouraging him to go out again. I just passed on the same advice to him as I was given if you don't go back out you will regret it the next day when you reflect on what you "could have done" or even an hour after you stop. Never quit. Once you quit it becomes a habit.

Ditto for Rachid... coming from road running...furthest previous distance a race half marathon and a 26km run.. all on roads... he paced it and smashed out an official ultra distance... over a marathon ... 7 loops so over 45km... and he was smiling as we met him on our next loop. PS they were not walks of shame as you met people on the next loop but more a chance for your new friends to high 5 and congratulate each other. 

Shayne... OMG after struggling and thinking he was done his friend and crew encouraged him to go out on the 5.5km loop... he did another 4 including the most spectacular trip which he managed to turn into a stunt man roll and continued running. 

Lucas mum (Kristi)... superwoman. Lap after lap and like most other people a constant smile on her face.

The 3 previous Big Dogs competitors coming to share knowledge and stories. Brian.. xxx travelling literally through the night to be there. Legends.

I witnessed a miracle in seeing with my own eyes " inactive Steve " find his mojo and turn back into ActiveSteve. He will be back with a vengeance next year.

A super bunch of crews... including Karen... pronounced " Karn" by me... no wonder Guy won... that's cheating..  as behind every great man is an even greater woman.

Guy... full RESPECT.. top runner and champion... he had doubts (which this type of race bring out in the best of elites) and hence why it can be a leveller for the meer mortals to struggle in under the hour and make the quicker runners doubt themselves... but he succeeded in overcoming..  

 ... Rick..  older brother of super fast younger brother Mike... ( also crew of the race contender)... this dude will be back next time not as an unknown also ran and virgin... but as a contender....it might have taken a few years... but the long stuff is your calling...

And number 1... firstly competitors/crew/ banter and craic... Alan... from London... (not england) ... personally i think he just came for the drinking session and free food‍... I.e. like me.

Andrey... this dude came up to me on lap 2 shook hands and said literally said " I'm gonna stick right beside you for each lap" which was like intimidating and a compliment at the same time... I came here for fun and forgot everyone thought I was a good runner... 🤣‍♂️... trails and hills are alien to me... but Andrey was buzzing about doing the 14 loops and getting onto the road and getting to 24 hours and 100miles and after that we would battle it out... and i was a believer... we fist pumped start and finish of every lap... and i was getting stronger and stronger.. and i was loving the trail and it was all easy.easy.. and the lap 7 finished.. easy... Lap 8... it was not not easy.. I struggled to finish under the hour and was ... basically fracked..... but i was always going back out... I was dehydrated... sick.... .. puked. Heat exhaustion.... no sun cream etc ...cause I'm a dumb Irish man... and i did my best to come in on time bit missed the count by approx 4 seconds....

Moral of the story... my personal battle was my new hero Andrey... he managed over 80 or 85km.. and kicked my arse... he will be back stronger and more experienced for next year.. and so will I.

Now my champion... Terri... your interview prior to the event cemented my decision to attend. You were the epitomy of a competitor..  a smile on your face at all times... ultra positive..  and determined and the way you came in loop after loop 58mins people thought you were done... then 51 mins for a sleep!!!! then sprinting up that hill to get in under the hour ... smiling... .. you broke everyone on that course bar one... you are a hero...legend... inspirational and you've got alot more to give. 

Also... super cook Monique... wow that vegetarian chili was class... I wouldn't know about the meat of burgers etc cause obviously I'm pescetarian...

Mike... wow... Laz has alot to live up to ... this was probably the best event I ever went to... ( obviously cause I'm a cheap Irish man and you actually believed I was the superstar Mark Haigney who won the Dubai desert ultra by a crushing 6.7km)... I could not believe the trail actually went into the gatineau hills directly from your backyard ... yes you have a mosquito or 2.. but we had the fire in the backyard and the banter and craic in watching events unfold is much more fun than running.... I doubt I'll qualify to be back to bigs... but i know I'm looking forward to coming back to the Mad Trapper next year with my wife and son and a few more mad Irish people.... so please practise your pool.


Hi Mike,

I don't really have anything specific to say related directly to the BYU that you did not capture below (Kristi has long ago stopped surprising me and both boys continue to amaze me).

On a more general theme I want to thank you and Monique for constantly putting on such challenging but rewarding, fun, all-inclusive events. From the first Snow show race Kristi and I tried, we were hooked by the location, the atmosphere, the silly "One-Two" game and the mix of such elite athletes and those of us just trying to survive. It didn't take too long after the first time we dragged our boys out to a race for them to see every Mad Trapper event as a "must go" (although, for Evan, this is driven a large part by the brownies) and it has been so rewarding to watch them get stronger and faster (nothing to do with me getting older and slower).

I admit that I do not even remember what year our first visit to the Ark occurred but it is fun to think about how many years Evan and Lukas have grown up with Mad Trapper Racing being a part of their experience - or more importantly, our family experience!

Thanks to both of you for all your hard work!


Mike aka the Mad Trapper -

thank you for a great event! Loved the format and concept of the race and community spirit of the runners involved. If you hadn't introduced the "Junior Loop", I would have not signed up and had the opportunity to experience a back yard ultra.

I am glad I did.....my goal was 4 laps to make it a half marathon of extremely hard trails. I completed 6 laps for 31.6 km in total which is a distance and duration milestone for me.

Making things accessible to the novice (common) runner allows more people to try crazy things like this and will only help to increase the sport and love of trail running in the community.

It is an inspiration to watch the experienced runners go for lap after lap without looking fatigued to help me strive to do more.

Thanks to all the fellow runners who made this an extremely positive experience!


I want to give a shout out to Mike Caldwell for putting on a great event this past weekend, the Mad Trapper Backyard Ultra.

For those unfamiliar with the format, there is a looped course that runners must complete in under one hour.

Each new loop starts at the top of the hour, so regardless of if you are slow or fast, you all start together again. There is no finish line; the races goes until there is one runner left. 

The original plan was to have one 6.7k loop to make it an official “Backyard” event. If you know the Mad Trapper trails, you know that 6.7k in less than 60 minutes, over and over again, is an extreme challenge.

Some incredibly talented athletes showed up to face the challenge. 

But Mike likes to see all runners of all abilities have the opportunity to challenge themselves and succeed. So when he realized that the 6+ km loop was going to limit the number of runners who could try such a cool event, he added a 5k loop.

This made it possible for runners like myself and my whole family to take part. 

My husband and kids each got in 30k! That’s a distance PB for my 14 year old!

I was thrilled to complete 50k, having to push myself to make sure I met the hourly cut offs. 5k may not sound like much but on technical single track with 150m of gain on each loop, combined with hourly cut offs, this made for a fun and challenging day. 

I can’t recommend this event enough. It truly had something for everyone. And when you’re finished your race, it’s just as much fun to hang out and cheer on the runners who are still going. 

Mike is planning on doing it again next year - pencil it in! 

P.S It also had the coolest race shirt ever!


This was a great race and I fought till the end, so I’m happy with my results and can’t wait to do it again.

Beautiful challenging trails during the day and hilly county roads during the night.

I was fighting to make time for a long time. One of the highlights for me (as well as my crew) was getting in with seconds to spare on my second last (road) loop. I tried to make it one more time... but the clock was going faster then I.


Amazing event Mike!

Really enjoyed it, the trail, the atmosphere and people.

I will be back next year for some fun and unfinished business.


This is my write-up (Mike, the Mad Trapper) for the 2023 Snowshoe BYU.

I just wanted to write a few words about yesterday's Mad Trapper Snowshoe Backyard Ultra and why I'm going to continue hosting this event... and probably even the summer event, moving forward.

This is not a "popular" race. We only had 16 people register. Maybe next year I'll throw coloured chalk on racers after each lap to improve our numbers!

The reason I want to continue is because of the racers who do show up in every imaginable way.

The three racers who stood out for me yesterday were Kristi Raz, Cody Taylor (aka, "Toby"), and Julian Lopez.

Kristi spoke to me at last week's race and said she'd love to see how many of those loops she complete in under an hour.

Now that loop was a bit too "easy" for uber-athletes like Eric Jacques, Guy Doiron, and Mackenzie Palmer, so I had to make a slightly longer, slightly hillier course for those immortals.

Now some racers would say "well I don't want to be embarrassed running the short course, so I won't race at all".

Kristi and the other 2 women she ran the "Kristi Loop" weren't embarrassed at all, and with good reason.

I was teasing Franny after she "DNF'd" from the race, quitting after 3 yards.

But Franny said she doesn't focus on the fact that she quit, she focused on the fact that she STARTED!

Mind Blown! What a killer paradigm shift. I absolute love that attitude and it's one I hope I can adopt as well as Franny has.

But back to Kristi… She was like the freaking Terminator out there. She wasn't moving fast, but she never stopped moving. After failing to make the time limit on her fourth yard, she still went out again for one more lap "just for fun".

I wish I had that degree of dedication and determination.

But for me the FIRST STAR of the day was Cody Taylor.

Cody just started running a little over a year ago with the goal of completing his first 100 miler this summer.

The reason he's my hero is because he half-heartedly "quit" twice.

He finished his 7th yard with 3 minutes to spare and his legs screamed "NO MORE". He said his head and heart were still in it, but his legs were fried.

But when the 1-minute bell sounded, he took another drink from his bladder, stood up, and headed out the door to try and finish "one more".

He finished his 8th yard with barely a minute to spare. He said he “couldn't” go any farther....

But when the song bellowed "3....2....1..... GOOOO!", there he was out on another lap.

Cody didn't complete his 9th yard in under the hour and so the clock dictated that he was out.

But Cody didn't quit.

And watching the athletic heroism of people like Kristi and Cody is why I'll keep hosting these events.

It was a bit unfortunate we didn't have a "survival" story for the ultimate winner.

Eric ran his first 8 yards looking almost effortless, but when he completed his 9th yard, you could tell he was feeling it.

He was far from done, but he was going to have to start digging deeper if he wanted to keep going.

I fully expected Julian Lopez to push him for a few more laps and was super surprised not to see him finish his 9th lap within the hour.

1 minute after the hour, Julian appeared at the top of the hill before the finish, but he was running kinda "lopsided".

Looking closer, I saw he had one snowshoe on his foot, and the other in his hand!

His TSL snowshoe broke 1 kilometer into the loop!

Julian ran in what was basically knee-deep snow for 4.5km with just one snowshoe!

And he finished the loop in 62 minutes!!!!!

That's a show of heart on a completely different level.

Had Julian's snowshoe not broke, I think he would have schooled Eric on the true meaning of suffering.

It would have been a warrior finish for sure.

Everyone who competes in the backyard has their own story. I'm sure a few of them this morning have their own demons... questioning themselves on whether they could have gone "one more time".

I can't wait to watch the next stories unfold.