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25th annual Okanagan Marathon taking place in Kelowna this weekend

Runners make their way around City Park in Kelowna on Saturday morning during an Okanagan Marathon five-kilometre run/walk event. The marathon is celebrating its 25th anniversary this weekend. Global News

A weekend of running is taking place in Kelowna with the 25th annual Okanagan Marathon.

The two-day event features a variety of athletic activities, ranging from a five-kilometre run/walk event to a marathon.

On Saturday morning, 250 people of all ages took part in the five-kilometre event in City Park beside Okanagan Lake. Crossing the finish line in first place, with a time of just under 16 minutes, was Ian Sharp of Kelowna.

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Sharp said he had two goals on Saturday: Break 16 minutes, which he did by three seconds, and the second was to support two childrens’ homes in India.

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“I had a donor who said he’d give $400 for the home if I could break 16 minutes, so I just got it,” said Sharp, adding he normally runs for a charity — Child of Mine — which supports the homes.

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A teacher at Kelowna Christian School, a married man with three children and a life-long runner, Sharp says he normally participates in two to three big events a year to help raise funds.

Sharp said he’s been running since he was 12 years old, adding, “I’m 40 now, so all those 40-year-olds out there, looking at this, you know what? Get off the couch, let’s get some running in you.

“It’s great fun and it’s good health.”

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Sharp said prior to Saturday, his personal best time for the five-km was 16:39. He said the donor helped motivate him and that he trained hard for six weeks.

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Asked if he’d run for longer distances, Sharp said “if someone wants to support Child of Mine, I will run it.”

Renee Rioux was the first female across the line in a time of 20:59.

“This is a really fun race,” said Rioux, stating she took part in the 10-km events the past three years.

“This year, I wanted to go a little faster and just do a 5k, so it was really good.”

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Rioux said the event “is really motivating because there’s a lot of people, the venue is really fun, it’s super flat … it’s just a great day. Fitness with friends.”

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Okanagan Marathon race director Tara Melville said “we’re celebrating 25 awesome years of a first-class running event.”

Sunday’s events include the 10-km, half marathon and full marathon — which is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon in 2021.

“You get fast times,” Melville said of Sunday’s marathon in Kelowna. “It’s a flat course, so you do get people qualifying for Boston.

“It’s a great end-of-season event. So you run all season-long and this is a great way to cap off your running season.”

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