Fast, Flat and Fabulous: How the Saskatchewan Marathon Supports the Trail
Date(s) - May 27
7:30 am - 2:00 pm
The Meewasin Valley derives its name from the Cree word for beautiful, which aptly describes this fertile river valley in the midst of sweeping prairies. In the heart of Saskatoon, the Meewasin Trail – a 26-kilometre section of The Great Trail – runs along both sides of the South Saskatchewan River, winding under bridges and through beautifully landscaped parks. In June, the trees are in bloom, the grass is green and the river is swiftly flowing. All of this creates one of the most beautiful settings in Canada for a marathon.
A Natural Stage
Organized by the Saskatoon Road Runners Association, the Saskatchewan Marathon celebrates its 40th edition this year. The annual race is the province’s premiere running event, attracting an equal blend of locals (Saskatonians!) and participants from the rest of the province and beyond, such as Ukraine and Ethiopia.
The marathon route is renowned in the running community as “fast, flat and fabulous” – largely because it takes place along the smartly-designed Meewasin Trail. Over the past few years, the trail has seen significant technical improvements, such as paving (to accommodate folks with limited mobility) and widening (to accommodate big events). As such, the Meewasin Trail makes a natural stage for the Saskatchewan Marathon.
A Supportive Atmosphere
The marathon provides an opportunity for Saskatchewan to display its commitment to diversity and hospitality. It’s a community event in the truest sense, where a wide-range of groups – from the local roller derby league to the Open Door Society and a German cultural group – come out to help create a supportive atmosphere. Spectators can watch elite runners doing what they do best (being the human equivalent of cheetahs), but can also cheer for a range of participants across a variety of events. The MaraFun program, for example, enables kids to run the 42 kilometres over the course of 10 weeks, and then cap off their hard work with a fun 2.2K run on a section of the marathon course.
Finish Line Fun
The most jovial part of any marathon is the finish line. The Saskatchewan Marathon features a “Personal Best Bell” – essentially, if runners break their own records, they’re entitled to ring the bell. Developed by Athletics Canada, the Run Jump Throw Wheel program develops physical literacy for children using activities and games. Food will be available, musicians will be performing live, and, for those who really want to kid around, there will even be goat yoga!
No Carb Left Behind
The annual Pasta Dinner will feature decorated long-distance runner Krista DuChene. The 41-year-old from Strathroy, Ontario, recently finished third at the Boston Marathon, where she dedicated her race to the Humboldt Broncos hockey team. She’s a perfect fit to speak at the Saskatchewan Marathon.
Green, Like a Prairie Valley
The Saskatchewan Marathon is a green event. The organizers have made strides – running pun intended – to ensure the event produces the smallest ecological imprint possible. Participants and spectators are encouraged to take public transport to the race. On site, a bike valet is available to store bicycles safely (and for free). Material used to support the runners, such as paper cups and cans, are all recycled. Even signage from previous years is reused.
The marathon also supports the Meewasin Valley Authority, a conservation agency dedicated to conserving the cultural and natural resources of the South Saskatchewan River Valley. Over the past ten years, $400,000 has been donated to a variety of initiatives, such as the creation of trail maps, installation of water fountains, trail expansion and trail widening.
By registering, marathon participants are helping to support the stewardship of the Meewasin Valley and The Great Trail. Great things to race for!
May 27, 2018