Interview: Scotiabank Calgary Marathon

23 Feb 2017 13:05
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Focus on a race Interview
Credit : Dave Holland

Hello, on May 28th 2017, you’ll be organizing the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon. Can you tell us where it is located?

The Scotiabank Calgary Marathon Race Weekend is located at the famous Stampede Park at the Grandstand in the heart of Downtown Calgary, which is also home to one of the largest Rodeos in the world, called the Calgary Stampede.

How old is the race and why was it created in the first place?

The Scotiabank Calgary Marathon is now in its 53rd year and is the longest running marathon in Canada. In the 1963 the marathon was the brainchild of Calgarian Doug Kyle. At that time Doug was Canada’s fastest runner, having competed for Canada in both the 1956 and the 1960 Olympics in both the 5,000 and 10,000-meter distances. He was nearing the end of his competitive career and was looking for new challenges, so he looked to the marathon. At the 1959 Pan American Games, after competing in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter events, he decided to enter and run his first marathon: he placed seventh! Upon returning to Calgary, he somehow convinced a good-natured Bill Wyllie to join him in his efforts to hold a marathon in Calgary; after all, how difficult could it be? In Bill Wyllie’s words, “the two of us ‘beat the bushes’ to come up with our 19 entrants.”

Doug’s motive was simple: to bring the 1964 Olympic time trials to Calgary. If they could successfully hold a marathon in Calgary, he felt that he could convince amateur sports to host the Olympic trials in Calgary the next year, instead of the usual Ontario choices. Our high altitude and the hometown advantage would put the Calgary runners at the front of the pack. Doug succeeded in his goal: the Olympic trials were held in Calgary the next year, at the second Calgary Marathon.


What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?

The race course as a whole is a relatively fast one with some challenging short climbs but enough flat stretches to make for a relatively fast run. This is a Boston Qualifier that enables runners to achieve a fast time while still proving a challenge. The course showcases almost all aspects of Calgary life by taking runners through various parts of the city, downtown and into the suburbs, including Calgary’s oldest suburb, Inglewood.

What are the distances on the agenda?

We have a variety of distances to cater and include all types of runners and fitness levels. We have the following:

  • 1KM Kids Marathon
  • GoodLife Fitness 5K
  • Jugo Juice 10KM
  • Centaur Subaru 21.1KM which is National Half Marathon Champs with the best Elites from Canada.
  • Scotiabank 42.2KM Marathon
  • 50KM National Road Champs
  • Confederation 150KM Solo and Relay Run. We are specifically proud of this one as it is the first ever race of its kind in Canada and it celebrates the 150th birthday of Canada’s confederation. This
    is a once off event that has 78 solo runners registered with 33 relay teams of between 2 and 12 team members.

How many runners do you expect on Sunday morning? What type of runners do you plan to attract?

We anticipate between 12 000 – 15 000 runners on race day with runners ranging in age from as young as 5 years old and up. We encourage all demographics to take part.

At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

With this being Calgary at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, runners can expect absolutely any type of weather. Calgary has some spectacular weather at that time of year as we have had the past few years but the weather can also be unpredictable so runners should prepare for anything from 30 degree Celsius in blazing sun to as low as 6-7 degrees Celsius in rain.This is what makes our city so great. People have been known to float down the Bow River on a lilo that runs through the heart of the city on one day, and attempt snowshoeing the next.

Credit : Dave Holland

Have you planned festivities around the event?

We have a great variety of festivities at the finish line. Beer garden, kids area, huge finish line festivities with our live TV broadcast and Rodeo themed marathon. We’re also giving away high value train trip on the prestigious Rocky Mountaineer to a lucky runner present at the finish line after the race.

For runners who have never been to Calgary, would you recommend any activities, visits or experiences in general that would help them discover the city before or after the race?

We have the Rocky Mountains just 45 Minutes’ drive from us as well as the famous and spectacular town and area of Banff. The Rockies within view in most places in our city. We have amazing green-spaces, Fort Calgary where it all began, great brew pubs and even just walking around or renting a bike to see the city by cruising our more than 150km’s of bike paths mainly along the Bow River.

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the Scotiabank CalgaryMarathon?

Come and run the west and experience cowboy and cattle town hospitality in all its glory.

Credit : Dave Holland

Interview with Gavin Grobbelaar Operations Manager for the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon.