By Mike Anderson
The second annual Georgina Marathon, held on September 11, was a resounding success, drawing hundreds of runners and their families to De La Salle Park and the scenic Lake Drive course.
The marathon, which sold out this year, has become popular with runners for the relatively flat terrain, which contributes to lower times, and the beautiful views of Lake Simcoe. It’s also the last qualifier of the season for the Boston Marathon.
Race organizers were happy with the weather conditions, a high of 23C with a sun and cloud mix, as earlier forecasts predicted rain and possible thunderstorms.
Still, higher humidity later in the day was a challenge for some runners, with at least one runner requiring medical attention at the finish.
“Today was perfect in terms of weather,” said Race Co-director Cindy Lewis. “A little bit humid, but barely any wind.”
“Seeing the runners come across the finish line with smiles on their faces for getting personal bests and qualify times was awesome.”
Although there were more than 800 runners on the starting list, Lewis said there were a few no-shows, with about 50 race bibs left over. She estimated the total number of runners to be about 775, which still exceeded last year’s total.
Lewis says the continued interest in the marathon bodes well for the future.
“Our plan is to keep it going year after year. We have a capacity here, so we can’t keep growing, but it’s okay. We’ll find what makes sense for this venue. And we will continue to be a really high calibre, small marathon event.”
Lewis believes the locale is one of the big draws for runners.
“I can’t think of anywhere else that you can run for that long along a lake near the GTA,” she said.
“And being near the GTA is also really important because people look for races they can get to without taking time off. So closeness to the GTA and the beauty of this location, as well as it being pancake flat so that people can run fast here, are big reasons why people come to this event.”
Many of the runners agreed, and the finishing times told the tale.
“It’s a beautiful course, really fast,” said Lucas White, 34, from Toronto, who won the marathon with a blistering time of 2:42:54.
Kylee Raftis, 23, from Toronto, was the first female to cross the finish line with an equally impressive time of 2:55:16.
Romain Carette, 32, from Toronto, was the first place male finisher in the half marathon with a time of 1:10:17, with Victoria Coates, from Hamilton, finishing as the top female with a time of 1:15:38.
The top wheelchair finisher was Brampton’s Isaiah Christophe, last year’s winner, with a time of 55:19.
This year’s event included a 5k run/walk, which organizers added to make the race more accessible.
“We added it because we wanted to make the race more accessible for new runners and people who aren’t quite ready to step up the full marathon,” said Race Co-director Sandie Orlando, who said 100 people signed up for the 5k, including lots of runners from Georgina.
Le Lu, 29, from Willow Beach, was the second fastest male but finished third overall in the 5k, with a time of 19:34.
Euguene Ganin, 37, from Keswick, finished first in the male aged 30 to 39 division, with a time of 23.50.
Julie Kraemer, 38, from Sutton, finished with a time of 26:19, good enough for third place in the female aged 30-39 division and 24th place overall.
While the Georgina Marathon is fast gaining a reputation as a premier running event, it’s also, according to Lewis, helping to boost tourism in the area.
“When people come up here, they see the beauty of it. They bring their families. They see the beaches. They see the parks. And residents have responded well to the race and are very welcoming,” she said.
“Runners now know Georgina. They may not have before. They may have known Aurora and Newmarket, but not Georgina. Now that’s changing.”
Both Lewis and Orlando want to thank the residents along Lake Drive who put up with the westbound lane blocked off for the duration of the race.
“We just really appreciate everyone along Lake Drive tolerating us,” Lewis said. “Everyone’s been really supportive. It’s hard to find that in a community.”
“The Town of Georgina is really behind it. And so are the people along Lake Drive. We’ve been meeting residents who live along the course, and they’re enthused about it and welcoming it,” added Orlando.
That enthusiasm was shared by many of the runners the Post interviewed, with most saying they would return next year.
Ben Ingles, 36, from Guelph, ran the half marathon and brought his two-year-old twin daughters, Willow and Brea, to cheer him on.
“They said “Go Dad Go!” when I crossed the finished line,” he said. “It pushed me over the edge. It got me here.”
Ingles said Georgina was a great place to run, and he’ll definitely be back.
“I love this spot. It’s a wonderful place to run. I love the view and the fact it’s nicely tucked out of the way, the fresh air and the people. It’s just a really nice crowd,” he said.
For a complete list of race finish times, please visit www.enfieldtiming.com.
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