Participants coming from afar for 14th Woody’s Marathon

From as far away as London, England, and ranging in age from 11 to 70, roughly 1,500 runners will participate in the 14th Annual Woody’s RV World Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k run on Sunday.

From as far away as London, England, and ranging in age from 11 to 70, roughly 1,500 runners will participate in the 14th Annual Woody’s RV World Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k run on Sunday.

While the number of entries are up from last year, race director Darlene Henderson said on Thursday that the vastly popular 10k run — introduced just last year — would push overall registration well beyond 1,500 if organizers didn’t cap the event at 350 runners, an increase of 50 from 2011.

“Our run continues to be very popular and we try to keep our overall numbers around the 1,500 mark,” said Henderson. “We want to continue to put on a first-class event and we find that with keeping the numbers smaller we’re able to do that.

“Everyone always thinks ‘why not open the 10k and let a thousand people run it’, but as a committee we like to be able to manage the race well.”

The exact number of registered runners on Thursday was 1,487, with about 1,150 set to run the marathon and half marathon. Sixty per cent of the runners are from Central Alberta and nearly 97 per cent are from within the province, the remainder hailing from throughout western Canada as well as the Northwest Territories, Arizona, Ohio and Texas.

The marathon and half marathon will start (at 8 a.m.) and finish near Camille J. Lerouge school and will follow the picturesque Red Deer park trail system (course maps may be viewed at www.reddeermarathon.org).

The 10K run starts at 7:45 a.m.

“The 10k course is very similar to last year, except that it takes in a bit more of Bower Ponds,” said race director Jason Hazlett.

“Other than that it’s a great course. There’s a bit of up and down in there so there won’t be too many records set in our 10k this year. It will be a challenging race for a 10k.”

The marathon and half marathon course is in excellent shape, said Hazlett, adding that he was at one time concerned with the amount of snow that had accumulated by the perimeter trail near River Bend Golf Course.

“But I was out there Tuesday and it’s fantastic. It will be in great shape for the runners and will be able to withstand any moisture (rain) we might get.”

The race committee was also concerned with the ongoing construction near Three Mile Bend, but was assured by the city that the area will be well maintained by Sunday.

• Red Deer’s Phil Bota, who climbed to the summit of Mount Everest last year and the guest speaker at Saturday’s pasta dinner, can identify with marathon runners.

“As a climber, you tire yourself out so many times and have to make little goals for yourself,” said Bota. “It’s kind of your way of getting through those obstacles . . . keeping those little goals and pushing more each time you reach them.

“Marathoners can relate to that.”

• A total of 300 volunteers are associated with this year’s event, including 100 who will be on the course directing the runners.

• To date, the Woody’s RV Marathon and Half Marathon has raised $12,181 for the Central Alberta Ronald McDonald House — this year’s charity of choice for the second year running.

gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com

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