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Calgary Marathon to mark 60th anniversary with record number of runners

Over 13,500 people will be participating in this weekend’s Calgary Marathon.

According to organizers, this is the first time the race has been sold out in at least a decade, as the sport sees a massive spike in popularity.

“Generally speaking, I think people picked up running in the pandemic and we’re seeing this being the result of it. It was a little bit delayed in Canada — there was a massive uptick in numbers in the U.S. last year across all the races from coast to coast and we’re definitely seeing that here in Canada, it was just a little bit delayed,” said Kirsten Fleming, the executive director for Run Calgary.

She explains a lot of newcomers to Canada are driving interest in the sport, especially in major cities.

“We’re seeing a lot of run clubs pop up that are specific to cultural communities and they’re coming out in droves to races in Vancouver and Toronto, and here in Calgary,” Fleming said.

The thousands of participants will likely mark the biggest turnout for the event in at least 10 years.

“I encourage you to come out and cheer and see it, because it’s pretty phenomenal to watch what people achieve and for every participant there’s a story behind that and we love being able to share those stories, we think they’re pretty inspiring. So, coming out and cheering them on is great way to get your first taste if you’re not registered,” Fleming said.

She says not only is this year special because of the turnout — the marathon is celebrating 60 years.

“‘The longest-running marathon in Canada’ is our tagline, it’s not the oldest race because that definitely goes to Thunder Bay, but this race was started in 1963,” Fleming said. “I did track down one of the very first runners who was there when it was just 19 men who lined up, and he’s going to be participating at the start line, banging the gong to send everybody else out on Sunday.”

It all kicks off Sunday morning, with some races starting as early as 5:15 a.m.

But, there will be festivities around Calgary all weekend to mark the occasion.

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