Edmonton is a haven for athletes, and the end of August is a celebratory time for the city's many runners. On August 20 - 21, the annual Edmonton Marathon is coming to Edmonton. With less than a month to go, runners are hitting the forest trails and the streets, preparing to rock the marathon. Last year's marathon drew about 3,200 enthusiastic runners. The event attracts elite athletes from around the world; in the past some have used the opportunity as an enjoyable, rewarding way to prep for the Olympics.
The fun begins on Friday night with a Sports Expo at the Shaw Conference Centre. Runners will pick up their packages that night, as they mentally prepare themselves for a great run. All who pick up their packages will have a chance to learn about products offered by companies such as Earthgroove Activewear and New Balance, and to view exhibits where they might learn about important causes such as HIV Edmonton or Habitat for Humanity. On Saturday, there will be a free 3km Friendship Run in the morning. There will be a 1 km run/walk for kids, as well as children's activities. Sunday, the big day, includes a Marathon Walk, Marathon Run, 10 km run/walk, a half marathon run/walk, and a 5 km run/walk. The 42 km marathon course winds along city streets, not too far North of the Saskatchewan River. The course takes a fairly flat, pleasant route; much of it follows the edge of the Saskatchewan river, on Ada Boulevard. Maps of all of the various courses can be found on the official website, www.edmontonmarathon.ca In 2013, John Stanton, the founder of the Running Room told the Edmonton Sun, "What I hear from all the runners is how much they enjoy going through all the communities."
Runners come to soak up some sun, achieve personal goals, enjoy fellowship, and stay fit, but some race competitively. Awards will be granted to female and male winners from various age groups who achieve 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place, in the 5k, 10k, half, and full. Cash prizes will be awarded to the elites. The courses may be challenging for some, but there are ways to refresh, refuel, and look after one's body. Of course, there will be water stations for the runners, and there will be gel stations as well. 10k, half, and full marathon runners will receive a free brunch, served at the Shaw Conference Centre. Additional tickets for the Champions Brunch are available. Exhausted runners can purchase a massage.
Runners join for many reasons. Some have used the event as a fundraiser. Of other runners, Stanton explains, "we have people that are trying to make Canadian standards to go the next level". In the past, runners have crossed the finish line with smiles on their faces, and they have embraced friends and family in the crowd. They have donned tutus, proudly held their country's flags, shaken hands, and sunk their teeth into their medals.
If you're interested in visiting Edmonton to run in the marathon, the marathon's website will link you up with things to do in the city and help you book accommodations, so that you can fully enjoy the city. Marathon lovers have created a friendly, informative space on facebook if you want to know more. The marathon's website itself will lead you where you need to be, if you'd like to see the long list of expo exhibitors, if you'd like to volunteer or donate, and, of course, if you'd like to register. Many registrants choose to set up a dashboard to raise funds for one of several great causes. Also, check out the Edmonton Sun for last year's photos. With less than a month to go, you had better tie those laces tight and get out there!