Canadian Running

Royal Victoria Marathon

Celebrate the long weekend in October with a beautiful coastal race in B.C.’s scenic capital

- By Melissa Offner

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 runvictori­ 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.

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