The 25th annual Marathon by the Sea ran in Saint John on Sunday, drawing runners from around the Maritimes and the world to race the challenging Port City course.
About 1,200 runners competed throughout the weekend across various distances.
First across the line in the marquee event was Oromocto-based Shane Stewart, who looked like he’d been on a light jog after covering 42 kilometres around the city.
The win required a change in strategy after a tough day at the Blue Nose Marathon in Halifax in June.
“I went out way too quick (at the Blue Nose), so this one I just kept it pretty easy in the beginning and picked it up near the end,” he said minutes after crossing the finish line. “So a little bit of suffering the last two or three k. That’s about it.”
Stewart says he joined a running team when he moved to Oromocto 11 years ago and was immediately drawn to the longer distances. He says it’s the solitary nature of the sport that he loves most.
“I like being alone on the road, alone with your thoughts. It’s just like meditation, really.”
That sentiment was echoed by Kate Osborne, who finished the half-marathon and won a raffle for two plane tickets to anywhere in North America.
“It’s just a time where you’re forced to think, you’re forced to breathe, you’re forced to enjoy your surroundings,” she said.
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Marathon by the Sea organizer Christy Cunningham says people are drawn to running for various reasons, but all it takes is the willingness to tie your shoes and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
“It’s addictive,” she said. “It’s a really fun atmosphere. Runners are very inclusive people I find — every shape, size, speed, everyone’s included.”
For some, the race was a family affair.
Saint John native Trevor Funk came in second on his home course. His 19-year-old son Liam Funk finished fifth in the half-marathon, setting a new personal best in the process, which he happily told his father soon after crossing the finish line.
“I was fifth overall, won my age group and had a check time of 1:28.24,” Liam said. “I was not expecting it on this course. I thought I was going to die on the hill going up the bridge.”
Trevor was impressed with his son’s performance.
“Wow, that’s awesome,” he said. “He was going for sub-1:30. That’s impressive, he’s put in a lot of work.”
Trevor said he began running about 15 years ago and his son wasn’t far behind, starting with small mini races and working his way up.
“I did three-kilometre mini races and I just gradually moved my way up to 10 kilometres, couple years ago did my first half, last year did my first full,” Liam said.
“Pretty impressive for 19,” said his father with his arm around Liam’s back.