15-year-old Tyler Baker of Middleton, who took part in the 5 km run, was the first participant to cross the finish line at Acadia University’s Raymond Field in Wolfville on Oct. 8. He said the course was fairly flat and he was able to pick up the pace quite a bit as he kept going.
Baker, who trains with Valley Athletics three days a week, said he runs every other day and this helped prepare him for the event. He said the Valley Harvest Marathon is a very popular race that’s held fairly close to home.
“I like doing local races and being a part of the event going on here,” Baker said. “The 5 km is a really fast race and I like to get a really good time on that and really push myself.”
He credits his fellow runners for inspiring him to keep going and push harder. There’s a great sense of camaraderie among runners and Baker has made some great friends. When asked what he enjoys most about running, he said he often tells people that you have to start doing it to know.
Supporting one another
Graeme Allardice of Halifax was the first 10 km runner to cross the finish line. He said it got hot out on the course, which featured a couple of hills, but he enjoyed it.
“It’s the first time I’ve run the 10 km here,” Allardice said. “I’ve run the half marathon several times and the pace is a little slower when you go for a half.”
He said you have to push yourself a little more in a 10 km run and this makes it a bit more challenging. Allardice said that although he’s missed the Valley Harvest Marathon the last two years, it’s one of his favourite events and he enjoys the scenic course.
He said it’s a very supportive environment. As he passed some of the half marathon and 10 km participants on his way back, they were cheering him on.
Allardice, who has been running for about 15 years, said it helps him relax. He enjoys being outside in the fresh air and trains with “a great group of people”, the Halifax Road Hammers.
It takes a team effort
Race director Susan Carbyn said that in spite of not having slept in 48 hours, it was exciting to see the 25th annual Valley Harvest Marathon getting underway.
It takes approximately 300 volunteers to make the event a success. Many of the volunteers represent charitable groups that the Valley Harvest Marathon helps support.
As race director, she takes great pride in knowing that the event helps support so many worthwhile causes and brings so many people and families to the Annapolis Valley on Thanksgiving weekend. It’s a great time to visit a great place.
“Every time at the end of the race I just feel a huge sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that I’m making a difference in the community,” Carbyn said.
However, Carbyn and the organizing committee won’t rest on their laurels. Work on next year’s marathon gets underway as soon as this year’s is completed.
Founded by the late Steve Moores in 1992 in Kentville, this was the tenth year the Valley Harvest Marathon has been held in Wolfville. Several members of Moores’s family took part in the 25th anniversary event.
Moores’s vision of the marathon becoming an international event has come to fruition with the 2017 event featuring runners from across Canada, the New England states, Denmark, Sweden, Great Britain and South America.
Carbyn said she met Moores when she ran her first race in Kentville. She had no idea when he told her they needed to talk that she’d end up being the organizer.
“If it weren’t for the Moores’s, this race wouldn’t be here today,” she said.
Although they were still taking registrations just after 7 a.m., Carbyn said it was shaping up to be one of their biggest years. The half marathon used to see the greatest number of runners but the 10 km run now features the most, between 800 and 900. She said this seems to be comfortable distance for many. Overall, approximately 3,000 people take part in the Valley Harvest Marathon.
Successful kids run
Carbyn said that although they had capped participation at 1,000 for the kids run on Oct. 7, they had well in excess of that number take part and they didn’t turn anyone away. She said they’ve been able to keep the children’s event free of charge. The Mud Creek Rotary Club is the biggest sponsor and the Valley Harvest Marathon helps offset the cost.
Participants who take longer to complete their chosen event were given the option of an early start time, 6:30 a.m. The 50 km, ultra marathon and full marathon runners started at 7:30 a.m., followed by half marathon participants at 7:45 a.m.; 10 km runners at 8 a.m. and 5 km participants at 8:05 a.m.
The marathon winner was Matthew White of Dartmouth in 2:56:35. The top woman runner in the marathon was Rachel Drummond of Timberlea with a time of 3:32:00.
The ultra marathon winner was John Cameron of Halifax, in 3:56:23. The top woman in the ultra marathon was Annie Michaud in 5:05:25.
Lee McCarron of Halifax won the half-marathon in 1:18:11 while the top woman in the half marathon was Chloe Austin of Dartmouth with 1:27:27.
Wheelchair athlete in spotlight
World-class wheelchair athlete Ben Brown of Cambridge said it felt pretty good to arrive back to Raymond Field to a standing ovation after completing the 10 km course in an unofficial time of 28:35.
“At that point too I was just focusing on finishing really, really strong and making sure I had a great race,” he said.
It was a great race for Brown, who established his third best time on a 10 km course. He hopes to break the 28-minute mark next year.
Brown said the experience was a great tune-up for Oita, Japan, where he’ll be competing in either a half or full marathon in three weeks. He’ll be doing 160 to 200 km in roadwork a week for the next two weeks in preparation.
He’s excited to be competing with some of the best road racers in the world and to be getting his new race chair. Brown has his sights set firmly on representing Canada at the 2020 Paralympic Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan, and will be working toward this goal over the next couple of years.