It’s been a marathon, not a sprint, perhaps that’s no surprise, but you can expect to see hundreds of runners finally return to Prince Edward County this fall.
For the first time since 2019, the County Marathon is back in its traditional form as competitors will tackle the picturesque route from Wellington through Bloomfield before crossing the finish line in Picton on October 2 for the 19th edition of the event this year and for the first time ever they will have the 50 KM Ultra.
“To have it come back is something that was created with a lot of people involved,” said race director Mark Henry. “To be able to put all of that organizational equity back into play again is huge. We’ve got a competitive event and it’s been based on all of those volunteers, all of that effort over the years.”
Around 500 to 600 participants are expected this year for the 19th edition of the County Marathon, down a bit due to not offering the team relay event this year. The focus will be on the full (42.2-kilometre) and half (26-kilometre) marathons as they complete the popular route.
The full marathon start line is at the Wellington and District Community Centre while the half-marathon begins at the West Lake Community Church and both events end at the Prince Edward County fairgrounds in Picton. The athletes tend to enjoy running those routes.
“For some of them it’s familiarity. It’s a route that any number of the runners have complimented us on in terms of the variety of what they see along the way, that sort of thing, and spectators are always welcome,” Henry remarked. “From what I’m hearing, they seem to come up at just the right time for the runners.”
For instance, Henry noted one spectator would even play the bagpipes “on the worst hill just before Picton” and that seemed to spur the runners on. He’s not sure if the bagpipes will return this year.
Another attraction for the County Marathon is the opportunity for runners to qualify for the Boston Marathon as it is sanctioned by Athletics Canada and is an ORRA, AAA classified race.
“We like that side of it that we can offer that service here,” Henry said. “It’s because of the discipline that’s applied to the course and through our volunteers and the police support we get.”
Registration is open and organizers have shown an ability to adapt as a new 50-kilometre Ultra race has been added while virtual options – which most runners had to utilize the past two years – continue this year as well. The additional 7.8 kilometres for the 50K Ultra will be run on scenic trails along the route.
There are different prices available, but they increase as the event draws closer. The current pricing is available until July 26, followed by a window of July 27 until Sept. 26 and then Sept. 27 until race day.
Virtual options are continuing because of the success from the past two years as only a limited amount of runners were permitted on the actual course.
“We had about 75 people the first virtual in 2020 and about mid-40s the second year in 2021,” Henry said. “Not a big crowd, but we had one person running on her treadmill in Texas. That was verified because her machine had electronic stuff on it so it was able to prove that she had done that. That was kind of fun to have that side of it.”
For this year, there won’t be a traditional awards ceremony at the end as organizations continue on with some of the virtual lessons learned.
As noted, volunteers are key to the success of the event and more are needed, especially following two years without the event in its traditional form.
“We have had some of our longtime core volunteers decide that they’ve contributed enough to it,” Henry remarked. “We are looking for both core committee members and absolutely volunteers on the day or even the day before when we have registration on October 1st.”
Volunteers will be required to help set up, register participants and be along the route, though police will cover major intersections.
The plan is to have unmanned water stations, however volunteers are welcome to be there as well.
Anyone interested in volunteering can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once again, the County Marathon will support the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation. In fact, organizers announced in May that due to the early support from registered runners, the event would be able to donate $2,500 ($1,250 from donations and $1,250 in matching funds).
“Every single year since we started,” Henry said of the County Marathon’s support for the Foundation. “Runners contribute when they register if they want to and then we match that from the entity itself so that we can make a reasonable contribution.”
Check out www.thecountymarathon.ca