34th World Mountain Running Championships in Canillo, Andorra

Team Canada (Andorra 2018).

Team Canada (Andorra 2018).

Matt Setlack, CAPT Student Pilot, AETE


I arrived in the Pyrenees about three weeks prior to race day. I did this in order to get over the eight-hour time change, acclimatize to the altitude, train on mountainous terrain and run over the race course. I arrived in the beautiful race hotel in downtown Canillo, Andorra on September 13, 2018.

The days leading up to the race were relatively relaxed and included attending the opening ceremonies on September 15, 2018 and spending time with the other athletes from Canada and around the world. Thirty-nine different countries were represented in this year’s championships.
Team Canada was composed of one junior womens, two junior mens, one junior team coach, four senior womens, four senior mens, one senior team coach and one team manager.

Race Day (September, 16 2018)

The senior men’s race started at 11a.m. so we were lucky to be able to sleep in before the race. I started in the 7th row back from the front of the start line. Standing on the start line, I felt extremely well prepared for this race and was likely in the best physical shape of my life.

There were 106 senior men on the start line, which was about 4 meters wide. After the starter pistol went off, it was a mad dash as everyone jostled for position while trying not to trip over all the surrounding runners. The pace went out very fast as expected since the first 1.3 kilometre (km) was only a seven per cent incline.

The race was 11.933 km long with 1,028 metres (m) of elevation gain and 117m of elevation loss. The race started in the town of Canillo at 1,515m above sea level and finished at the top of the Forn chairlift at 2,430m above sea level. The temperature was about 20 Celsius with a light wind, which I found to be perfect. I knew the course extremely well as I had run over it many times in the weeks leading up to the competition. There were a couple of very steep sections (45% incline) that lasted for 500m to 1000m.

For the majority of the race I felt that my running pace was very intense but still bearable and I gradually moved up through the field of other runners. The most challenging section of the race was the steep 45% incline that was 9 km into the race. This section went on for about one km and caused racers to slow down considerably.

As the elevation increased, I noticed that some racers were more affected by the elevation than others. The race finished at 2,430m (about 8,000 feet) above sea level. Fortunately, since I had been training at altitude for the three weeks before the race and had run over the race course many times, I felt relatively good in the upper section of the course.

There was amazing crowd support in the final 1.5 km of the race. I heard so many people calling out my name and cheering for me. One of the things I love about mountain running in particular is the comradery that is developed among athletes.


I finished the race in 1:05:23 placing 58th overall out of 106 finishers and I was the 2nd of 4 Canadians in the senior men’s race. I was very happy with my result and how the race went.

Thank You

I am extremely impressed with the level of support I have received from many people. I would like to thank the Canadian Armed Forces, 1 Canadian Air Division, the leadership at 4 Wing Cold Lake and my chain of command at the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment for supporting my request to compete in the World Mountain Running Championships.

I would also like to thank the 4 Wing Personnel Support Program (PSP) staff for submitting my out service to the PSP National Sports Office and for the incredible support they have given me not only in this competition, but in all of the competitions I have competed in over the years. Thank you to Mr. James MacKenzie from the PSP Regional Sports Office and to Mr. Denis Gaboury from the PSP National Sports Office for supporting my out-service sports competition request.
I am forever grateful for all the amazing support I have received.


Photo submitted

Photo submitted

Matt Setlack near the finish of the World Mountain Running Championships in Andorra. Photo submitted

Matt Setlack near the finish of the World Mountain Running Championships in Andorra.
Photo submitted