This morning I had the privilege of running the Fort Garry Rotary Half Marathon. Without a shadow of doubt the Fort Garry Half is the most scenic half marathon in Winnipeg and perhaps all of Manitoba. It also has a reputation of the fastest course around town; personal bests are measured in minutes, not seconds. The course is mostly flat, there are few turns, and dozens upon dozens of fresh young volunteers line the course in bright yellow tee-shirts cheering and coaxing runners forward toward the line and, as a fall marathon, the temperature is blissfully cool. Oh, and did I mention the breathtaking scenery?
The race is supported with sponsors with very deep pockets so the committee pulls out all stops. There is a $5000 prize, yet to be claimed, awarded to any runner who sets a new Canadian record for the fastest half-marathon. In speaking to one of the race directors I learned they may carry the prize money forward every year thereby building the prize money and attracting elite runners from across the nation. Currently the amazing Lani Marchant holds the woman's record at 1:10:47. Yowzer, that's fast!
Many improvements are noted since its inception in 2012 including a consistent start/finish line, an improved dry bag drop off, and corralled start separating fast from less fast runners. There is a good mixture of Winnipeg's elite runners, middle of the pack runners (like yours truly), and the determined runners whose goals are lofty in their own right. As per MRA rules, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd pace age category winners are acknowledged at the mic and all runners receive a very nice, heavy set medal. The race committee is friendly, professional, and most important, many come from a running background. My source tells me they secretly want to grow this race to 500 (they currently hover around 200 runners) and attract runners from around the country. And why not? This is a fine race, perhaps one of the finest, and is deserving of such recognition.
Concerns exist around the male-only tee-shirt. My friend says it best; "I'm a small female, not a small male". The race committee should take note. By all accounts they are financially secure so there is no reason for shortcuts, especially considering about half the runners are female. So why have a one size fits all tee-shirt? Why cheap out? I expect the race committee will receive more than a few emails from female runners. They should take note and fix this blemish on an otherwise fine event.
Let's not forget the good this race accomplishes. The primary goal of Fort Garry Rotary Half Marathon is to raise funds to support ....
...vocational programming offered at the Knowles centre with the aim of providing graduating students with either the ability to continue their training elsewhere, or to find employment. Current support for knowles graduates ends at the age of 18 and these at-risk adolescences lack sufficient skills to cope with the demands of society and become contributing members of society.... (The Knowles Centre) ... aims to break the cycle of abandonment the graduates face and teach them a productive trade.
Good for the race committee for supporting The Knowles Centre and good for them for hosting such a fine event. They should be very, very proud of a job well done.
You know it, it's a good day to be alive.
Peace, love and run,