Royal Victoria Marathon
Celebrate the long weekend in October with a beautiful coastal race in B.C.’s scenic capital
Created in 1980 by a trio of running enthusiasts (Alex Marshall, Robin Pearson and Bruce “Gunner” Shaw), the Royal Victoria Marathon’s initial goal was to provide a top-quality running event in Victoria that would attract runners from Vancouver Island, across B.C. and, over time, around the world.
Today, the race attracts more than 8,000 participants, with three distance options: the marathon (a Boston qualifier), the half-marathon and the 8k. There is also a virtual option as well as a kids’ run. Although this year’s routes are still going through permit approval as a result of recent construction and new bike lanes, the race’s general manager and race director Cathy Noel says that all distances will start and finish downtown, with a significant portion of the course following the city’s scenic waterfront.
After the forced cancellation of many key events during the last two years, the enthusiasm for the upcoming edition (the 43rd) on October 9 is felt throughout the city’s running community. Technical advisor Bob Reid points out that many races faced cancellation in the past two years; others include the Times Colonist 10k, Harriers Pioneer 8k, Thetis Lake Cross Country Relay and the Vancouver Island Race Series. “This left many athletes hungry to see in-person events return, especially those with large, competitive fields in all age categories,” he says, adding that he’s seen the Victoria running scene rebound nicely in 2022.
Leading up to race day, there will be a virtual speaker series featuring monthly webinars that are free to join, and a training clinic provided by the local run shop Frontrunners, with training plans for all distances available on the website at runvictoriamarathon.com/training. Again this year, the chek Charity Pledge Program encourages participants to donate, either during registration or by joining a team, for one of this year’s 11 charity partners.
Noel points out that, with October being prime running season in
Victoria and the race being held on the long weekend, participants can train throughout the summer without taking time off work. Reid adds: “Victoria is a popular tourist destination, and the race is their opportunity to stay and view many other unique sites and features while they and their families are here.” Those might include visiting the Royal BC Museum, a post-race brunch at one of the city’s many excellent restaurants or craft breweries, relaxing at a spa or strolling through Butchart Gardens or Fisherman’s Wharf—there’s plenty to keep you busy throughout the entire race weekend.
Melissa Offner is a television and podcast host, the leader of the North Vancouver run crew RUNDISTRIKT and an avid runner.