Sunday, June 8, 2014

Why I Choose to Run The Manitoba Marathon

I’m the first to admit the Manitoba Marathon is over due for a makeover. Increasing numbers of Manitoba runners have written it off completely preferring events south of the border. Social media sites are abuzz with negative comments about our marathon and many are openly critical, often unfairly so.  It’s easy to get swooped up with all this negativity so I thought I would blog my top ten reasons why I will proudly run my fifth full Manitoba Marathon on Sunday June 15.

10.  I will wear my Diana Stevens Empower Run singlet to honor this most distinguished local athlete. Many will recognize the significance of this gesture because it’s a local event and they will cheer me. If you see me, don’t say, “Go Mike”, say “Go Diana” and then quickly step aside, as the afterburners will surely maim. The MB Marathon is local and locals are tuned into to local heroes and they just get it. Remember... Go Diana!

9. Manitoba Runners' Association Hall of Fame recipient, Michael Booth placed first in the full marathon in 2005 (2:35:38), 2006 (2:31:54), 2007 (2:36:12), and 2010 (2:32:33).  He also placed first in the half-marathon in 2000 (1:09:43).  To run in the footsteps of such an esteemed local giant is a tremendous honor and an extraordinary privilege. 

8. The Manitoba Marathon supports Manitobans living with intellectual disabilities. Since its inception in 1979 over five million dollars has been raised to kick start over 500 projects across Manitoba.  These projects assist Manitobans living with intellectual disabilities gain independence and a live a full life free of institutions.

7. The grunge band at the corner of Dromore and Harrow that rocks out year after year. They have heart and understand the importance of supporting community. Keep on rockin' in the free world, guys!

6. The Manitoba Marathon school programs are second to none.  Thousands of children from across Manitoba participate in one of the six events.  As a school coach for many years I frequently witnessed kids successfully nag their sedentary parents to get off the couch and lace up.  The Manitoba Marathon race committee is to be commended for the work they do in engaging families.  

5. Cars are not allowed into the university on race day! Let’s face it, cars and pedestrians don’t mix and anytime we remove vehicles from the equation we all benefit. The race committee provides free and frequent shuttle service from several convenient locations within a mile of the start line.

4. The Manitoba Marathon is cheap.  Registration is $95. If I were organized and paid closer attention to the early bird price I would have paid $80.   By comparison, the Chicago Marathon is $210 USD, Minneapolis Marathon $130 USD, and the Ottawa Marathon $105.  Of course you also need to factor in airfare, fuel, hotel, and food for all out-of-town events easily totaling an additional $1000.  I’m about an hour away from my bed and my refrigerator from the Manitoba Marathon finish line.

3. It’s comfortable like an old pair of jeans.  I know the turns, the hills, the beer stations, the porta-potties, the tangents, I know the theme song The Chariots of Fire will play at the start, I know the massage shop on Pembina Highway will have the “See You on Monday” sign… With all its warts and bruises and predictability, it’s just kind of comfy to run in your own neighbourhood. Cheezy? Maybe so. Comfy? You bet!

2. All runners are thoroughly checked over by one of two dozen volunteers as they cross the finish line. They ask questions to determine your mental state and are trained in spotting medical abnormalities. These wonderful volunteers will stay with you until they are convinced you're okay. This simply does not happen at any other marathon.

1. All those amazing friends, family, volunteers and strangers that station themselves strategically along the course to show their support. Their cheers, and their ice water, their chilled grapes, their flat coke, their popsicles, their high-fives, their smiles, their blown kisses, their handmade signs, their unsolicited gestures of kindness and love… It’s our event, it's our community, and I am proud to run this marathon and call it home.   

Let’s get out their and celebrate the Manitoba Marathon, our community event. Run, volunteer, cheer, or donate... or not... it's your choice.

It's a good day to be alive, eh?