When is the Marathon Shuffle?

The Shuffle is held annually on the last Sunday of April. For 2024, the start will be at 09:00 on Sunday 28 April. The official finish will be at 17:00 (8 hours).

Where is the Shuffle?

In the Upper Sunshine Coast area in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Our district is called qathet. The event finishes in the city of Powell River.

We acknowledge that the Marathon Shuffle’s course passes through Tla’amin Nation Treaty Settlement Lands, and we are thankful for being able to share these lands for this event.

Route map of Marathon Shuffle on the Sunshine Coast Trail

What is the route of the Shuffle?

The event is on the world famous Sunshine Coast Trail. The point-to-point route starts where the Sunshine Coast Trail crosses Malaspina Road (north) and ends in the upper parking lot of the Shingle Mill Bistro (south).

Familiarization events. We highly encourage you to hike or run the course any time of year.  Check out the twelve (12) Saturday morning training events leading up to the Marathon Shuffle or visit the qathet Trail Running page on Facebook for more information.

Maps and Guidebooks. We recommend that you get a map (Sunshine Coast Outdoor Recreation Map) and a trail guide (Sunshine Coast Trail by Eagle Walz). Both are available at Tourism Powell River, 4257 Joyce Avenue in Powell River.

GPX. Download a GPS Exchange Format (.gpx) file of the Marathon Shuffle route here.

RunGo. The RunGo app provides turn-by-turn voice instructions. We’ve set up the Marathon Shuffle course on RunGo and you can use it for free. Click here to use the RunGo app.

Who organizes the Shuffle?

Since 1993, the Marathon Shuffle has been organized by qPAWS (qathet Parks And Wilderness Society) with the help of many volunteers, partners and community supporters including the Tla’amin Nation, Club Fat Ass and the BOMB Squad (Bloody Old Men’s Brigade.)

How many people will be accepted to start the Shuffle in 2024?

For 2024, we are allowing up to 275 registrations. Considering withdraws and no-shows, we anticipate just over 200 folks will actually start the event.

How much does it cost to enter?

There is no cost to participate in Shuffle (It’s free!).

There is a CDN$10 cost to register, however. The registration fee covers fees from the registration services provider, credit card fees, website integration and other hard costs associated with hosting a free event. After expenses are covered, any remaining funds will go to qPAWS for trail maintenance. This registration fee is not refundable.

How can I support qPAWS?

We humbly ask that you consider  making a modest donation to qPAWS (qathet Parks and Wilderness Society) and/or buy a qPAWS membership or t-shirt. Your contribution will be used to maintain and improve the trail throughout the year. We continue to build new huts, kiosks, benches, picnic tables, swimming docks, camp sites, and outhouses along the entire 180 km of the Sunshine Coast Trail, Canada’s longest hut-to-hut hiking trail.

qPAWS can accept donations by any of the following ways:

  • E-transfer. Address to sunshinecoasttrail.info@gmail.com. We’re set up for auto-deposit, so there’s no need for a secret word.
  • Credit card or Visa debit card. Please use our PayPal link below.
  • Cheque. Please make it out to qPAWS and mail it to: Box 345, Powell River, BC, V8A 5C2.

Note: If you make a donation for more than $20 we can give you a tax receipt. If you’d like a receipt, please be sure to let us know your contact information in the eTransfer notes/PayPal contact info so we can get one to you.  🙂

Thank you!

How do I sign up?

Registration for the Marathon Shuffle opens 1 February. All registration is online. To register, go the Marathon Shuffle website registration page.

We use a professional registration service (Karelo). If this is your first Marathon Shuffle, you will need to create a free account in Karelo. If you participated in the Shuffle in 2023, just log in to your account and confirm that your profile is up to date. Forgot your login information? Please contact Karelo. You can find answers to questions about the Karelo service here.

How do I withdraw or change my information?

Work. Family priorities. Injuries. There are many reasons why you might not be able to make it to the Shuffle start line. What if you want to take one of our free buses after all? What if you move or change your email or telephone number?

If you have to withdraw or change what you entered when you registered, our registration system makes it easy!

Just log in to your account with your User Name and Password.  Look for “My Registrations” on the right side of the screen and click to see your registration.  Click on your registration number (e.g. 879398) then ‘Update Registration’.  Don’t forget to press ‘Save’!

Note: it is considered bad form to sign-up and not show up. Your seat on the bus will go empty. Our volunteers will be looking for you at aid stations. Your name will forever appear on the starter list as DNS (Did Not Start). Please don’t wait until the last minute to withdraw.  

Is there a waitlist?

No. Yes… given so many folks were disappointed that the 2024 Shuffle filled so quickly, we reconsidered and opened a waitlist.

Historically, more people would like to participate in the Shuffle than we can accommodate. This means some people may be disappointed. Please consider that the trail is narrow and ecologically sensitive. We feel that any more than 200 people on the trail at one time is a lot… especially at the start. As well, there’s the challenge of getting participants to the start on buses.

For 2024, we accepted 275 registrations. Given that some folks who sign up will withdraw, we expect that about 200 will start. If more than 75 withdraw, we will invite those on the waitlist on a first come, first served basis.

Note. We reserve up to fifteen (15) starting slots for people who have or could make exceptional contributions to the event. These include: past male/female winners, exceptional athletes, accredited media, sponsors of the event or qPAWS who contribute $2,500 or more, high profile people, land owners, and people who have invested considerable sweat equity (e.g. work on the Sunshine Coast Trail or huts). If you feel you should be considered for one of these entries, please send us a request for special consideration.

Can I give my spot to a friend?

No. We maintain a waitlist. If it is possible to invite more participants, we approach the waitlist sequentially. Allowing your friend to take your place would be unfair to folks on the waitlist.

Where do I register on the day of the event?

There is no day of event registration. Registration closes at midnight on the Wednesday before the event or when all available spaces have been taken, whichever comes first. Registered participants will check in at the start and receive a number bib.

What is the agenda for the day?

  • 07:30 – Check-in opens at Shinglemill
  • 07:45 – Ferry from Vancouver Island arrives at Westview terminal
  • 08:00 – Bus leaves Westview ferry terminal and goes to Shinglemill
  • 08:15 – Busses leave Shinglemill. Check-in opens at start.
  • 08:45 – Official welcome
  • 09:00 – Start
  • 10:30 – Finish line opens
  • 11:00 – First finisher is getting close!
  • 15:00 – Award ceremony at Shinglemill
  • 15:30 – Last aid station (Sutherland Road) closes
  • 16:30 – Bus leaves Shinglemill for Westview terminal (Comox ferry @ 17:15)
  • 17:00 – Finish line closes
  • 18:00 – Last connecting ferry of day leaves Saltery Bay (to lower mainland)
  • 20:45 – Last ferry leaves Westview terminal (to Vancouver Island)

Is the Marathon Shuffle the marathon distance?

No. A marathon is 42.2 kilometers. The Marathon Shuffle is 27 kilometers.

The Marathon Shuffle is named after Marathon Hill, a feature of the course. The ‘advertised’ distance for the Marathon Shuffle was 29 kilometers for many years. Back in 1993 when the Marathon Shuffle was born, there was no GPS. Nowadays, most smartwatches or phones put the distance closer to 27 km (+/- 200m depending on the device). The precise distance of the Shuffle is what it is.

How long does it take to complete the course?

Most well-trained runners complete the course in 3-5 hours. Accomplished hikers generally need 5-6 hours requiring a steady pace without much time spent taking breaks.

The last aid station at Sutherland will close at 16:00 (4:00 pm). The finish line will close at 17:00 (5:00 pm) in order to accommodate someone at an 8-hour finish pace.

Worried about making the cutoff? Consider coming out to one of the free training events!

Can I do a shorter or longer distance?

There is one “official” 27 kilometer Marathon Shuffle course.

Longer: Some folks have started at Sarah Point and run 50-kilometers. Some have started in the middle of the night at the finish, ran to the start, started with everyone else and run to the finish. We will recognize those who attempt an “Ultra Shuffle” with a note in the results.

Shorter: In past years, the family-friendly 12-kilometer “Half” Shuffle was almost as popular as the full Shuffle. Given the traffic chaos and logistics of getting people to various starting points along the trail, however, we had to abandon the shorter distance. We will record as a DNF (Did Not Finish) if you started, but don’t complete the 27K distance.

Note: We plan to host a shorter, more child, senior and family-friendly event on National Trails Day (first Saturday in June.)

What do I do if I can’t complete the entire route?

It is very important that you contact a Volunteer or Event Official if you can’t complete the whole course. If you signed in at the start and didn’t sign out at the finish, we will notify Search & Rescue and police… something we’d rather avoid. Not signing out will definitely put you on our bad list and may exclude you from participating in future Marathon Shuffles.

How well is the course marked?

The Sunshine Coast Trail, the trail used by the Shuffle, is well-established and well-marked. Expect to see orange squares on trees, frequent Sunshine Coast Trail kilometer markers (roughly every kilometer), wooden directional markers and other trail indicators. To minimize the impact of the event on the environment, we provide minimal additional trail marking specifically for the Shuffle.

Generally speaking, follow the trail that is more used. Keep your head up. Look for markers in the trees. If you don’t see markings, stop, look around and consider going backward to where you last saw a marker. The Sunshine Coast Trail is not the only trail in the area that uses orange squares. If you feel you are lost, stay where you are and call 911.

I’m from out of town. Where do I stay and what might I do when in town?

The qathet Regional District (the upper Sunshine Coast area) and the City of Powell River offer a wide range of places to stay and things to do. Check out the Tourism Powell River website for ideas.  

What might I expect for aid while on the course?

There are five (5) aid stations in total:

-Start (0 km).  Two (2) portable toilets
-Branch 10 (10 km). Water. Oranges. Basic first aid.
-Appleton (15 km). Water. Oranges. Basic first aid.
-Sutherland (24 km). Water. Oranges. Basic first aid.
-Finish (29 km). Two (2) portable toilets. Water. Oranges.

Several pit toilets (outhouses) are available on the course.

Be sure to bring a refillable water bottle or hydration pack with you. To minimize the potential impact on the environment, we will not be using single-use plastic or paper cups at the aid stations.

If you are tired or have a minor injury, please let an aid station volunteer know. They will help you get to the finish. If you or someone you come across on the course has a serious injury, please call 911. Powell River Search and Rescue is aware of the event and will be on standby.

Where do I park?

Vehicle parking has been provided by the ShingleMill Bistro (the finish of the Marathon Shuffle.) Free parking is available in the middle lot. The upper lot is being used for the finish line. Tents, toilets and other finish line structures may not yet be set up when you arrive. Please don’t park in the upper lot! The lower lot (near the restaurant) is paid parking, so if you park there, be sure to pay at the restaurant.

I’m coming from Vancouver Island for the day. How do I plan?

We’d like to help you save some money and help the environment. Consider walking onto the ferry at Little River (Comox).

We provide a free bus to get you from Westview Terminal in Powell River to the Shuffle start and from the finish back to the ferry. The bus will wait for the morning ferry at the “A” frame Chamber of Commerce building at the corner of Wharf and Willingdon Streets in Powell River. The bus will then go to the ShingleMill where you will check in and get your bib number. There will be an opportunity to drop off a finish line bag when you check in. Please be sure to note your name and mobile number on the drop bag.

After you have finished the Shuffle, a bus will be available to get you from the ShingleMill back to the 17:15 ferry. The bus will leave the ShingleMill around 16:30. If that doesn’t work for you, try Powell River Taxi at (604) 483-3666.

Where do I sign in on Shuffle day?

All participants must sign in. You will sign in at the ShingleMill Bistro (near the actual finish line). We will check you off the starter list and you will be given a number bib and a coupon for a free drink at the finish, compliments of the ShingleMill.

There will also be a check-in person at the start on Malaspina Road for those who are dropped off at the start.

Can I leave some of my stuff with you while I’m on the course?

There will be an opportunity to leave drop bags at the ShingleMill and at start on Malaspina Road. Please be sure to put your stuff in a recognizable bag that you can tie up… this so your stuff doesn’t fall out when we move it. Best to not drop off anything of great value, that’s fragile, or has liquids in it (e.g. a full water bottle.)

Drop bags and any personal items that are turned in during the event (Lost and Found) will be taken to the finish line.

How do I get from the finish (ShingleMill parking lot) to the start (Malaspina Road)?

The City of Powell River has graciously provided two (2) free shuttle buses for 2024! These are large buses with standing room capacity of 72.

One bus will go directly to the ShingleMill, arriving around 07:30. The other will pick up foot passengers at Westview ferry terminal before going to the ShingleMill.

Both buses will leave the ShingleMill shortly after 08:00. The buses will be packed, so expect to stand. The trip to the start is less than 30 minutes. If you miss the bus you are on your own, so best to arrive early.

We highly discourage you from driving to the start! There are no places to park and what limited space there is will be for buses, event volunteers and emergency vehicles. As well, there will be up to 300 starters and volunteers milling about the area and we want to keep them safe.

If you live near Malaspina Road and plan to get a ride with a friend, please ask the person who drives you to the start to drop you off before the start area so they don’t have to drive through the crowd. Sorry, you may not bring your friends and family to the start to see you off.

We’re aiming to have everyone at the start by 08:30.

What should I expect at the start?

There will be a sign-in table, a place to leave your drop bags and two (2) portable toilets. Bring whatever food and fluids you need to get you to at least the first aid station at about 10 km.

Expect to stand around for a short while. Starting around 08:45, a few VIPs will say a few words. We’re aiming to fire the starter pistol at 09:00 sharp.

Up to 275 people will need to get onto a narrow trail in the first 200 meters.

Runners, the first 100m will be on the road then you turn right onto the narrow, uphill trail. Expect jostling and congestion for the first 10 minutes. To avoid frustration, please let faster folks start at the front. Hikers, you may follow runners on the road or start on the trail and avoid the commotion. Either way, it’s the same distance.

What should I expect at the finish?

Our friends at 460 Realty are managing the finish line area.

As you exit the trail and enter the upper parking lot of the ShingleMill, you’ll see some tents and some enthusiastic volunteers who will take down your bib number and record your finish time. Please try to make sure your bib number is visible when you cross the finish line.

We record time to the closest minute. Make sure your number is recorded and let us know if you’d like to finish as a team (e.g. family, work) in the results. Aim to clear the finish chute as soon as possible so you don’t get run over by the next person.

Two permanent toilets are located opposite the Shinglemill restaurant. There will be 2 portable toilets near the finish line. We’ll have some chairs so you can sit down. Powell River Search and Rescue are planning to be around should you need their help or would like to chat with them about the awesome volunteer work they do.

There will water, oranges, and maybe some other goodies at the finish. Use the ticket (attached to your bib) for a free drink, courtesy of the ShingleMill and maybe treat yourself to a celebratory lunch.

Is there cellular reception on the Shuffle course?

There is some cellular reception on the course, but it is spotty.

Can I bring my dog, a non-registered pacer or friend from out of town?

No. While the Sunshine Coast Trail is free for anyone to use all year, we have to limit participation in the Marathon Shuffle to those who are registered. For the safety of dogs and participants, please invite your canine best friend another day. We appreciate your understanding.

How can I get a Shuffle T-shirt?

A limited number of T-Shirts, as well as guidebooks and other items can be purchased at Tourism Powell River, 4257 Joyce Avenue in Powell River. We also will have a very limited supply of small size shirts on hand at the Shuffle finish.

Will there be a Lost & Found?

Yes! Anything we find or is turned in will be sent to the lost and found table at the finish line. Items not picked up within seven (7) days will be donated to the Salvation Army.

I had a great experience. What might I do to show my appreciation?

Hug a volunteer. Thank our sponsors by doing business with them. Donate to qPAWS. Stick around town for a while and enjoy the area. Buy a t-shirt. Voice your opinion when it comes to protecting the Sunshine Coast Trail from logging. Come back and hike the whole trail.

Help with the event in some way!  Respond to the post-Shuffle online survey or contact us with your suggestions for how we might improve the Marathon Shuffle.

Does the Marathon Shuffle raise funds or make donations to any causes?

No. Our goal is to put on a fun, free event that showcases a section of the Sunshine Coast Trail. If you feel you’d like to support the efforts of qPAWS to maintain the trail and huts, consider making a modest donation to qPAWS (qathet Parks and Wilderness Society) 

Can I use the Marathon Shuffle to raise funds?

Absolutely! Here is a document we created that may help you organize a successful fundraiser for the cause of your choice. 

How will COVID-19 impact the event?

If it’s an issue, we will take guidance from the provincial health authority. 

How should I train for a 27K hike/run?

The best advice we can offer is to do lots of hiking and/or running in the months leading up to the Marathon Shuffle.

For 2024, we are hosting training events. There are twelve (12) of these fun, low key get-togethers on Saturday mornings starting the first week of February. Distances range from 11K through 27K and are open to hikers and runners of all abilities.

For details, check out the Marathon Shuffle training events calendar and the qathet Trail Running page on Facebook.

What if I have a question that’s not answered here?

Chances are, someone else has the same question so please ask it on the Marathon Shuffle Facebook event page.  Alternatively, contact us directly at events@sunshinecoasttrail.com.