Charities lead Oak Bay Half-marathon

Oak Bay Half-marathon grows with expanding charity pledge program

The Oak Bay Kool Half-Marathon and KidSport just got an Olympic sized boost.

Adam Kreek joins fellow Olympic rowers Anna-Marie de Zwager and Buffy and Barney Williams in a four-person relay team set to run the May 15 race on behalf of KidSport Greater Victoria.

KidSport is one of two charities added to the Oak Bay Half-Marathon’s pledge program this year.

“The race is growing so the charities are growing,” said race organizer Dave Milne, owner of Peninsula Runners.

Milne started the Oak Bay Half seven years ago. Last year, 711 runners crossed the finish line. As of April 7 there were already 673 registrants, Milne said.

“There’s no cap on the number of entrants. The only thing (that’s capped) is the number of family members we can draw on as volunteers,” Milne said. “We’re out.”

In an effort to help grow the event the original charity of choice, Help Fill a Dream, reached out to KidSport Victoria and the BC Cancer Foundation to come aboard the charity pledge program.

Being a world-class rower does not automatically make one a runner, however.

For Kreek, who won a gold medal with the men’s eight rowing team in Beijing in 2008, running is part of his “fitness for life” regime.

“We used to run as part of our (rowing) training around Elk Lake but it I found the more I did it the more my back hurt,” he said. “Now I like running a lot, but I approach excercise more like a surfer than a racer. I’m in it for the feeling afterwards.”

Kreek and the KidSport Krew are hoping to raise $8,000 in the Ekiden Relay.

“We’ve handed out 286 (sports registration) grants already and we need to keep it up,” said Patti Hunter, co-chair of KidSport. “This year’s (total number of) grants is the most since we started in 2002. To sustain (the demand) we need $63,000.”

Run a little further

“Why stop with one race?” asks Milne, who came up with the idea for the Oak Bay Half-Marathon during a philosophical shower in 2004.

“I ran out wearing just my towel and told my buddy: ‘We’re doing a spring half-marathon.’”

The race grew from there. It’s timing is complimentary to the TC 10K. Usually three Sundays after, Oak Bay is only two weeks this year.

“We sponsor the TC 10K and we should build off it. We’d love to get 10 per cent of their runners into the Oak Bay Half’s relay,” he said. “It’s only a couple more weeks of training and runners get a chance to see what the half-marathon (21 kilometres) is all about.”

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