By Mike Anderson
Runners know a good thing when they see it. And it seems they can’t get enough of the Georgina Marathon, with its flat, fast course along the south shore of Lake Simcoe.
According to race organizers, the 3rd annual Georgina Marathon & Half Marathon, plus 10km and 5km, held on Sunday, September 10, attracted close to 1,200 runners this year — nearly a 50 per cent increase over last year’s 800 participants.
“This year, we have some elite athletes. This is the first time we’ve had people that race for Canada,” said Cindy Lewis-Caballero, the race co-director.
“So people are getting to know the event. They’re getting to trust the quality. So the quality of athletes is increasing as well.”
But while Lewis-Caballero says there’s room to grow, she doesn’t want the marathon to get too big.
“We think we can probably get upwards of 2000. We think that’s probably the max we can handle up here,” she said.
“We are learning year by year. We want to keep it a race where people know us, where they feel comfortable.”
“We’re not trying to be a world-class Toronto Marathon. We’re trying to be a really good quality boutique marathon.”
Helen Manning, president of Athletics Canada, was also pleased with the turnout and said the Georgina Marathon could get bigger.
“It’s a great initiative by the race organizers. They’re doing a lot of things right,” she said.
“They’ve done a great job of ensuring the runners are supported on the course. So, that’s comforting to new athletes.”
“It will steadily grow because of reputation and word of mouth. Hopefully, it encourages a few people to get out and join them next year.”
Manning also says the 5km run, which attracted 140 people, helps encourage newbies to get into the sport.
“The 5km seems to be where we’re seeing many people attempt to move from that treadmill, maybe morning run, to a competitive activity. So it’s a good introduction, not too daunting.”
The weather also contributed to the record turnout, with temps peaking at 21C, low humidity, and a slight breeze from the northeast.
The race began at 8 a.m. from De La Salle Park, with the marathoners running two loops along Lake Drive while the half marathoners completed one loop.
The 21.1 km course, along the westbound lane of Lake Drive East and North, is certified by Athletics Canada as a qualifier for the New York and Boston Marathons.
Cory Nagler, 24, from Toronto, won the marathon (42.2km) with a time of 2:39:23. Madeleine Davidson, 31, also from Toronto, was the top female with a time of 2:51:01, which was remarkable given it was her first ever marathon.
Julius Mwangi won the half marathon at 1:09:59, while Rachel Hannah won the women’s half marathon at 1:16:34.
“It felt good, and the race was well organized, so a lot of fun,” said Nagler, who used the race to prepare for the Amsterdam Marathon in October.
While Nagler didn’t manage a personal best, he can’t wait to return next year.
“I can’t recommend this course enough,” he said.
“It’s that perfect balance where you don’t feel packed in like you do with the big races. It’s such a fun time. There’s a really good vibe. And they did an awesome job putting this together.”
Davidson, the women’s marathon winner, was all smiles after crossing the finish line.
“It’s my first ever marathon,” she said. “It’s a tough distance, and you must respect the distance itself.”
“The last 5km were tough. I had to dig, really, really, deep so I could keep going.”
“A lot of people don’t finish, so I wanted to finish and feel strong so I can do another one again.”
Local runners were well-represented in the various races.
Sutton’s Jon Irwin, 46, was 32nd in the Male 40-49 age group, while Keswick’s Andrew Walters, 40, placed 36th in the marathon.
In the half marathon, M30-39, Brian Power, 30, finished 29th; Nathan Mack, 36, placed 33rd; Blake Whiteley placed 50th; Bryan Cater placed 54th; and Matthew Canning placed 63rd; while, in the M20-29 age group, Lei Yu placed 59th.
Keswick’s Sandra Wright-Weathered, 43, was the top female finisher, placing 61st in F40-49.
In the 10km, Willow Beach’s David Ribeiro, 38, was the top finisher in M30-39, while Pefferlaw’s Adam Whiteford, 39, was second. Pefferlaw’s Victoria Power, 27, finished first in the F20-29 age group.
London’s Katty Abran, 52, was the first-place finisher in the Handcycle Marathon at 1:41:21.
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