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Manitoba Marathon organizers prepared for heat, still got caught by surprise Sunday

Click to play video: 'Manitoba Marathon organizers prepared for heat, still got caught by surprise Sunday' Manitoba Marathon organizers prepared for heat, still got caught by surprise Sunday
The Manitoba Marathon’s executive director says although organizers were aware of the forecast for this weekend’s event — which had to be cancelled shortly after it began — they were still caught by surprise by the heat. Marek Tkach reports. – Jun 20, 2022

The Manitoba Marathon’s executive director says although organizers were aware of the forecast for this weekend’s event — which had to be cancelled shortly after it began — they were still caught by surprise by the heat.

“In 44 years we’ve never had a cancellation and we’ve had weather that looked like this,” Rachel Munday told 680 CJOB’s The Start.

“We expected we would have to do an accelerated closure and did talk about that a fair amount.

“We anticipated that it would get hot, for sure. We did not anticipate that it would get hot as quickly as it did.”

Read more: Manitoba Marathon called off due to heat and humidity

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Munday said starting earlier wouldn’t have been possible for logistical reasons, due to the red tape needed to get various city departments on board to help close streets earlier, among other things.

“It would have obviously been ideal to start a little bit early, but there’s a lot of things that go in to this.

“It’s notifying all the volunteers and making sure that the course is secure in that way, it’s having the ability to get all the various city departments on board with closing the roads — with (Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service), with (Winnipeg Police Service) — and then all of our other medical partners that are on site at the stadium.

“We knew (about the weather) earlier in the week, but six days isn’t a lot of time to get all of those things in place.”

Click to play video: 'Manitoba Marathon called off due to heat and humidity' Manitoba Marathon called off due to heat and humidity
Manitoba Marathon called off due to heat and humidity – Jun 20, 2022

According to the city, after the marathon began, paramedics assessed four marathon participants on site, with two transferred to hospital — one in stable and the other in unstable condition.

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City officials directly attributed the manageable patient volume to the Marathon’s decision to call the event early.

Acclaimed local marathon runner and two-time Manitoba Marathon champ Chris Glowach, who didn’t compete in Sunday’s event, said it was tough to see the event shut down so early.

“I think shutting it down that early was maybe a bit too early — or you never should’ve started the event in the first place,” Glowach said. “It was a tough decision. To shut it down that early, really was kind of interesting.”

Read more: Manitoba is heating up. Is your air conditioner ready?

Glowach said the 1995 version of the Manitoba Marathon faced similar weather-related challenges, but organizers that year had much more advance notice.

“In 1995, the same thing happened on race day, where the event went off at 7 a.m. and everything just spiked after the start.

“The thing that happened that year … it got super hot two or three weeks before, so they had more time to decide what they were going to do versus this year.”

Glowach said that extra lead time gave organizers the opportunity to do all the necessary planning — including giving full marathon runners the option to switch to the half-marathon mid-race — something that would be harder to coordinate with 2022 technology.

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“That’s a little more difficult nowadays because of the chip timing system — back then it was just a handheld stopwatch.”

Glowach said in his view, the cancellation won’t dissuade runners — local or otherwise — from taking part in future Manitoba Marathons. After all, the race has encountered extreme heat before, as well as equally frustrating rainy conditions.

“You have to put it in perspective — it doesn’t happen every year,” he said.

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Extreme heat sweeps parts of northern hemisphere – Jun 17, 2022

Winnipeg police say officers did what they could to protect runners after the event got called off due to heat.

In response to social media complaints from some runners that the police service wouldn’t accommodate an earlier start time to help runners get out ahead of the heat, Const. Jay Murray said police did their best.

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“Instead of starting at 7 a.m. like they normally would, (officers) actually started at 5 a.m.,” he said.

“There was a later request to have officers start at 3 a.m., but it couldn’t be accommodated due to short notice and logistical reasons.”

Some runners also accused the WPS of abandoning their posts on the roads once the race was officially called off mid-morning. According to Murray, officers — along with other groups like paramedics, aid station volunteers, and St. John’s Ambulance, stayed at their stations until the track was clear of runners.

Murray said officers stayed at their stations until the track was clear — and so too did other groups like paramedics, St. John’s Ambulance, and aid station volunteers.

“I think that’s something of a misconception that’s out there on social media — that we simply got up and left, that’s quite untrue,” Murray said.

“We also supported the decision to maintain aid stations… until each section of the course could be confirmed clear of runners.”

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