It is that time of year again to pack in the skis and the snowshoes and prepare for the proper spring, summer and fall races.
For the running enthusiast, there are hundreds of marathons, half-marathons and 10K races happening across Canada this year, so sign up and be sure to get your body into racing form. Here are a few top picks:
The Ottawa Marathon & Half-Marathon (Ottawa)
What better stage than our nation's capital to host one of the largest racing events in Canada? The Ottawa Marathon attracted a record number of runners in 2013 with 44,123 and is set to break that record in 2014 in celebration of its 40th anniversary. Over the course of the weekend, runners participate in marathons, half-marathons, 10K, 5K and fun runs. The race runs on May 24 and 25, afterwards runners are treated to a celebratory festival with music, food and liberal amounts of water.
BMO Vancouver Marathon & Half-Marathon (Vancouver)
The Vancouver Marathon has been named one of Forbes' Top Ten Destination Marathons and has been called one of the world's most exotic marathons by CNN Travel. Those labels certainly make this running event sound appealing — but they are not exaggerating, it is one of Canada's most scenic urban marathons. The marathon, as well as half-marathon and 8K, takes runners past beaches, through parks and along Vancouver's beautiful Seawall. The races run on Saturday, May 3 with the full marathon happening on Sunday, May 4. After the marathon concludes on Sunday, runners race to a Finish Line Street Festival packed with food, dancing and souvenirs.
Oasis Montreal Marathon, Half-Marathon & 10K (Montreal)
The Oasis Montreal Marathon is the largest foot race in Quebec. The races, held on September 28, range from a half-marathon, a 10K, a 5K, a relay race and finish up with a scenic marathon around the city. The full marathon starts at Jacques-Cartier Bridge, winds through Montreal's Old District and finishes up at La Fontaine Park. At various points along the route, spectators and passing by runners enjoy the live music of a whole handful of local bands.
Treherne "Run for the Hills" Marathon, Half-Marathon & 10K (Treherne, MB)
Urban races are fun, but the Treherne marathon has competitors running for the hills just north of Winnipeg. On September 8, marathon, half-marathon and 10K runners take to routes through the beautiful rolling Tiger Hills, taking in not the cheering crowds that accompany urban races, but rather the beautiful scenery during that time of year. The night before the race, a free pasta dinner is held in Winnipeg before racers drive to the starting point in Treherne. Upon completion, racers will receive a free T-shirt and a picnic dinner.
Harvest Half-Marathon (Calgary)
Unlike other marathons throughout Canada, there are no half-marathons or other incarnations along with this race. It is just a pure, full-blooded marathon that has been happening in Calgary for the past 14 years. The race runs on October 4, starting at the Mid-Sun Community Centre then taking runners through a great big loop past beautiful fall foliage, fields ready to be harvested and quaint urban areas before finishing up back at the Community Centre. With the mix of autumn colours, this is one of the most beautiful marathons in Canada.
Niagara Falls International Marathon, Half-Marathon & 10K (Niagara Falls)
The Niagara Falls International Marathon has attracted runners from all over the world to compete since it was created in 1974. While the event hosts half-marathons, a 10K and 5K run in Ontario, the full marathon is one of the few in the world to start in one country and end in another. The marathon starts in Buffalo, New York and ends in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Events start on October 24 and culminate in the marathon run on Sunday, October 26. At Niagara Falls, or what is referred to as the most famous finish line in the world, there will be a street fair for spectators as they await the runners.
Island Girls & Guys Half-Marathon (Wasaga Beach, ON)
Everyone loves a good run along the beach. The Island Girls & Guys Half-Marathon is a great event for the more casual runner who doesn’t think himself or herself ready for a full marathon. This run takes racers along Wasaga Beach with beautiful views of Georgian Bay. Fun, food and prizes await racers at the finish line along with live music. All who run on September 10 win a neat flip-flop-shaped medal for completion.
Mount Robson Marathon (Valemount)
The Mount Robson marathon takes place around the highest point in the Canadian Rockies. This event takes place on September 7, but half-marathons, 12K and fun runs take place the day before. The Mount Robson marathon takes runners out and back again on the world-famous Berg Lake trail that gains 825 metres over 21 km before the trail turns around. This marathon is actually four kilometres longer than a traditional marathon, but the beauty is worth the extra length. The Berg Lake trail is a popular backcountry trail for backpackers, and is well maintained.