The big day is still more than four months away, but organizers of the 39th GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon got members of the region’s running community excited with their kickoff event Tuesday.
A 5K retro mystery run led up to the gala kickoff at Distrikt Nightclub in the Strathcona Hotel. Runners started from three different locations, picked up a tie-died shirt along the way and wound up at the below-street level club for eats and a reintroduction to the key players on the organizing committee, not to mention the marathon’s hugely successful charity fundraising program.
“We are all doing our best to make this event better and better each year,” said race general manager Cathy Noel. She encouraged those present to invite newcomers to take part in the event, whether it’s in the Thrifty Foods 1K Kids Run, the 8K event, or the half or full marathons.
“We also get people get out there on the course with their pots and pans, who participate that way,” she added, noting the significant role supporters play for runners.
This far out from the Oct. 7 races, Noel stressed the value of getting to the start line healthy. To help establish one’s training regime, multiple marathon-sanctioned and unofficial running groups are available through local running retailers.
As well, legendary Greater Victoria distance runner Bruce Deacon has been the event’s online coach for the past nine years, offering training programs and tips for the marathon (42K), half marathon (21K) and 8K road race.
This year will also see a free runVictoria Online Training Group which participants can access through Facebook.
Also launching Tuesday was the online volunteer registration system through Race Roster. It’s a key component of the event organization with 1,600 individuals volunteering every year.
“We will be recognizing our returning volunteers through the Team Sales Volunteer Spirit Program, which we launched last year,” added Noel.
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Fundraising is also a big part of the marathon and its participants. KidSport Greater Victoria, Pacific Autism Family Network and the GoodLife Kids Foundation are the three official charities of the marathon, while the CHEK Charity Pledge program supports nine non-profit groups of its own.
Since the first Victoria Marathon in 1980, 195,000 participants have crossed the finish line, a number that will jump to more than 200,000 with this year’s races.
“The economic impact to this community is tremendous, amounting to millions of dollars each year,” noted Jonathan Foweraker, Victoria Marathon Society president. Economic studies were done in 2001 ($2.1 million) and 2010 ($7.1 million) and Foweraker said a new study will be conducted this year. “We fully expect it to have grown even more.”
So far 671 people have registered for the marathon (the cap is 1,500), along with 1,084 for the half marathon (cap 3,500), and 440 for the 8K (cap 2,750). Discounted race fees are still in effect; to sign up visit runvictoriamarathon.com.