It was the perfect setting. With not a cloud in the sky and not a trace of wind, runners took their mark at 7 a.m. to take part in the third annual Moose Mountain Marathon. Winding trails and hills took runners through a beautiful scenic journey where not only their bodies were treated to some exercise, but their minds to an escape from the normal hustle and bustle.
This year, the marathon was held on Aug 14 with registrants coming from as far away as Saskatoon and East St. Paul, Manitoba. Those participating were able to take register in 5-km walk/run, 10-km walk/run or half marathon distances.
The marathon, organized and run by Arcola School Track Club, raises funds for the programming. Cathy Burton, one of the organizers of the event, said that "the day was an absolute success. It was fantastic! We were thrilled with everyone that came out and I think the day went really wonderful. And we are looking forward to next year already!"
The scenic journey started at Saskairie with 68 runners registering for this year's race. In the end, 63 participants took part in the marathon event. Lucille Weber, one of the event organizers, said that "the first year I think there was a little over 30, and then last year about 50. So we are gaining about 20 every year. Next year we anticipate about 100."
Participants come from throughout the region. Burton said "We cover quite a distance. We have a couple from East St. Paul - Manitoba which is on the other side of Winnipeg - Saskatoon, Regina, Gainsborough, Carlyle, Alameda, Oxbow, Lampman, Manor and Weyburn. It is just kind of spreading all over."
Not only do the runners come from varied places, the age of runners spans the cohorts. Categories range from 18-and-under to 55-and-over with the youngest participant this year being 10 years of age to the oldest being 69 years of age.
The money raised from the Moose Mountain Marathon goes to the Arcola School Track Club which is run by Eugene Brown, who also helps to organize the marathon. The money is used to purchase equipment for the track club and the group has been able to update a lot of the equipment throughout the years as a result of the fundraiser.
When speaking with Burton and Weber, they both stressed the importance of their volunteers in terms of the success they have had. Burton said "We had a great crew set up that dealt with our registration and door prizes and making sure that our lunch was ready as the runners came in. We always make sure that we have a great big lunch set up to refuel the runners. We have another crew that looks after timing when runners cross the finish line and then we have crews set up every two-and-a-half kilometres at water stations. So it takes a lot of volunteers...a lot of volunteers, and we have really great volunteers."
As runners and walkers crossed the finish line, cheering and "go mom" sent waves of warmth through those in attendance. The level of support for these participants could be felt as the running shoes of marathoners crossed the finish line to be surrounded by family, friends and supporters. Pride filled the faces of those at the finish line and the dedication of the individuals who competed could be noted in the results.
First place finishers for the 5-km male category included: Zach Brown from Arcola (18 years & under), Duane Hislop from Arcola (19-30 years) and Glenn Wiens from Halbrite (31-45 years). The top female finishers included: Abigail Birch from Arcola (18 years & under), Jackie Henderson from Manor (31-45 years) and Donna Van Heukelom from Manor (46-54 years).
In the 10-km category, the top male runners included: Carter Birch from Arcola (18 years & under), A.J. Schlenker from Arcola (19-30 years) and Blair Beck from Carnduff (31-45 years). The females which finished first included: Jessica Daku from Esterhazy (19-30 years), Terra Little from Weyburn (31-45 years), Colleen Hengen from Arcola (46-54 years) and Wendy Hurst (55 years and over).
For the half marathon, the males finishing first included: Dane Stephen from Regina (19-30 years), Mark Newton from Regina (31-45) and Barry Ryan from Regina (46-54 years). For the female category, first place finishers included: Kelsey Hengen (18 years & under), Sandi Kofoed from Estevan (31-45 years), Cathy Burton from Arcola (46-54 years) and Lucille Weber from Arcola (55 years and over).
Once again, Moose Mountain Marathon was a triumph not only for the organizers, but for those who trained and participated. Organizers and runners alike look forward to next year's event to be held on Aug 12, 2012. If you missed out this year, you'll want to make sure you don't next year! For more information, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.