The Queen City Marathon will go ahead this fall, but not exactly as the organizers had previously planned.
Run Regina is following in the footsteps of the organizers of the country’s major spring marathons, working to put together a virtual event.
“You really don’t want to be the event that throws everything back to the starting line — forgive the cliche — of COVID-19,” said Run Regina executive director Shawn Weimar.
Weimar said it looks like restrictions on large gatherings in Saskatchewan could remain in place through the fall, hampering the ability to have 10,000 people come together for the events of the Sept. 11-13 race weekend.
Weimar and the Run Regina team are still trying to figure out the logistics of holding a virtual marathon, but expect it will centre around the Runkeeper app that helps athletes track distance and pacing, among other features.
Virtual start and finish lines, water stations and cheering are on the table, Weimar said.
“I don’t know what that means yet,” he admitted, but said he’s excited.
“There are so many cool things that are going to happen.”
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The idea of bringing runners together virtually has long been on the industry back burner, Weimar said. The pandemic has been the push that’s brought it to the forefront.
Weimar imagines that virtual elements will be part of many future events going forward.
“It’s a chance to reinvent the industry, not just here in Regina, but right across the world,” he said.
The nearly 3,000 early registrants of the Queen City Marathon will still receive their race kits. They can earn their finishers’ medals and T-shirts by completing their run or walk anytime in the month of September.
Those who want to sign up for the virtual event can do so already. Weimar said the details will be released as they are worked out.