The GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon weekend has a festival atmosphere, with workshops, trade fairs, social events and the races themselves bring people together.
For the past 14 years, the weekend has featured a finale that brings the idea of community home: the Thrifty Foods Kids Race. Organizers are expecting this fourth and final event of race day to sell out once again, meaning more than 1,100 children, from toddlers to middle schoolers, will lace up their joggers and complete a 1.25-kilometre route on residential James Bay streets.
“We say it’s from zero right up to age 12,” says Jill Shaw, executive director of Kidsport Victoria, which oversees the race. “Our biggest, fastest kids finish quite quickly. But we get a lot of runners between four and nine years old.”
It’s not uncommon for parents who have just finished the half marathon or 8K races to run the Kids Race with their children as a cool-down of sorts.
Marathon media spokesperson Louise Hodgson-Jones says the family atmosphere created by the Kids Run is a great way to wind up the weekend.
“It’s just a really fun event and a lot of the kids, some of them have very athletic parents as well, who are very keen on getting their kids involved at an early age,” she says.
Many participants in the Kids Race sign up through their elementary schools. The school with the largest team wins $1,000 for their school, thanks to a donation from local developer Winslow Properties. And schools with 10 or more runners have the students’ names on their shirts.
“We get some friendly competition going between a couple of the larger schools,” Shaw says, noting that Campus View and Doncaster elementaries in Saanich routinely put in large teams.
In return for organizing the Kids Run, Kidsport Victoria receives its proceeds, a contribution setup that is part of charity pledge program of the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon. Shaw says their charity expects with this year’s run to cross the $500,000 threshold in funds received through their involvement in the marathon weekend.
This one event, she adds, provides funding for 130 of the 1,400 children that Kidsport supports with sports registrations in an average year.
There’s more than bragging rights for schools on the line for the Kids Run. Those registered are entered to win a bike from Oak Bay Bikes, to be drawn for in each of four age categories. As of last week more than 500 children were signed up, but with the deadline Oct. 4, organizers encourage hopeful participants to register soon at runvictoriamarathon.com.
As for the marathon, half marathon and 8K events, spots are also filling up quickly and are expected to sell out, Hodgson-Jones says. Some runners have downgraded from the full to the half marathon, she says, but organizers expect to have a full complement of 8,000 participants come race day.