The race is back on!
After a year of virtual events throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, RunRegina is planning to have at least some runners toe the starting line of the Queen City Marathon in person this fall.
In addition to continuing with a month of virtual options, RunRegina executive director Shawn Weimar says versions of the traditional marathon, half-marathon and five and 10K races are expected to go ahead Sept. 10-12.
With the province in Step 2 of its reopening plan and the target date for the third and final step just weeks away, he said the organization felt comfortable moving in that direction.
The events will align with all Government of Saskatchewan public health orders in place at the time.
“People shouldn’t expect necessarily to come back to the Queen City Marathon and see thousands of runners all shoulder-to-shoulder at this point yet,” Weimer said, mentioning there is the potential that participation could be capped.
“We’re not going to be running necessarily completely in the pack like we have in the past.”
Weimar noted precautions will be in place. For example, he said distancing measures are worked out to avoid crowding at the start, throughout the course and at the finish of each race.
The 1,000 people who signed up early for virtual events have had the chance to transfer over to in-person for the past week. Weimar said about 200 have done so. Registration opens to the general public on July 1.
Tim Owens has been training for the marathon.
“Nothing beats the in-person races,” said Owens, who plans to toe the starting line in-person.
“Just the feeling of having all the volunteers, the runners, the real finish line, makes it so much better,” he said.
About 6,500 people typically sign up for in-person races, but the virtual events that replaced them last fall drew about half as many.
Owen was among them and doesn’t think virtual racing is going anywhere.
“The nice thing about virtual is that you can do it on your time. You can pick a day when the weather’s perfect to get a good time,” he said. “The balance is nice. I would think virtual races will be here forever. You can run kind of nationally with friends across the country.”
For runners under the age of 12, for whom COVID vaccines are not yet approved in Canada, the virtual option is the only option for now.
Weimer’s three-year-old son, Lucas, and five-year-old son, Isaac, have already charted out their own 400-metre and 1-kilometre courses in an east Regina park.
“It wins the race,” explained Lucas, who likes how in virtual events, everyone finishes first at their own pace.
Isaac, who is a little faster than his younger brother, likes the medal at the end.
Weimer said there are no plans as of right now to certify this year’s in-person marathon course.