The 1,000-plus runners taking part in the second annual North Face Whistler Half Marathon this Saturday, June 2, run the gamut from walkers to competitive racers. It's the biggest running event of its kind in the corridor, and based on interest — it sold out by the end of January — it's only going to get bigger.
Race director Dave Clark is encouraging everyone to come out and cheer, and to support the event, as well as the Little Ripper Kids Race and the post-race celebration at Whistler Olympic Plaza.
When planning the event, Clark said they looked closely at other iconic runs to determine why they're so successful, and followed their example when building the Whistler event.
"We looked at the Vancouver Marathon, the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, New York, Boston, Big Sur and other big destination runs, and why people go there," he said. "Partly it's the destination, but it's partly the race management and how it's all executed. When you look at the details of our race, it's still small but it's got pieces of what makes those big events so popular, and we hope we're nailing all of the things that are going to please people."
For example, Clark said they focused on making it easy to register, and making the website as detailed as possible. They also made everything from the package pickup to the morning of the event as simple as possible, while adding things like live music and post-race food tables that people are going to remember.
"And on race day we make it fun, and engage the community, as much as we can," said Clark. "And the course is enjoyable. It's not designed to be fast, a lot of runners are going to be posting personal bests, but it's enjoyable and really scenic. We really looked at the whole experience, pre, during and post-race because we wanted to emulate those big events."
The day gets started at 7 a.m. with the walkers' start, which is followed by a warm-up stretch and the national anthem before the mass run start at 7:30 a.m. The first men are expected to finish around 8:40 a.m., depending on the weather, and the first women about 15 minutes later. Most runners will finish between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. with the Rutherford Creek bluegrass band playing at Whistler Olympic Plaza.
The Little Rippers 1km run starts at 10:30 a.m. with a sold-out group of 110 runners heading up the Village Stroll to Gateway Boulevard, turning back and then running around Whistler Olympic Plaza. For many kids at Myrtle Philip Community School, it's the final kilometre in the half marathon they've been running after school during the past few weeks.