By Rosalind Russell – It is one of Northern Ontario’s premier summer events attracting people from around the globe to the small community of Massey – the 42nd running of the Friendly Massey Marathon. And, there will be a spot of colour this year too!
Along with the signature Friendly Massey Marathon, a Boston Qualifier certified course, the event includes the Spanish River Half Marathon, the Chutes 10K and the Family 5K, meaning there is a race and a distance for every runner. All in all, about 300 participants are expected to take part the July 14th weekend.
In the past, the event has been called the Northern Lites Marathon, the Rainbow Country Marathon, the Voyageur Marathon and finally the Friendly Massey Marathon. It was founded by Norm Patenaude, who was also one of the founders of the Ontario Roadrunners Association and helped develop the standards used for race accreditation, which have been adopted by several national and international running organizations.
Maintaining a loyal following, excuse the pun, was not always easy. The event changed locations regularly in its infancy to places such as Espanola, Chelmsford, Sudbury and finally Massey. But, the marathon continued and is a highlight event for enthusiasts in July. In fact, the 10K is celebrating its 11th anniversary this year and this is the third year for the Family 5K.
The course, simply put, is beautiful and runs as two loops of the half marathon course, which is flat and fast. It also runs along the Spanish River with lots of shade and beautiful vistas, so it is a pretty course.
A traditional spaghetti supper is offered on Saturday evening and there is a popular pancake breakfast for all participants on Sunday morning at the Massey Arena.
New this year is the Predators Colour Run on July 14th at 3:00pm, a fundraising event for the local minor hockey association, but it will definitely add some sparkle to the weekend with splattered colour powder dressing up the participants.
Race headquarters are also located right near the beautiful Chutes Provincial Park, which has six kilometres of hiking trails with great views of scenic waterfalls. With fun runs on Saturday, they provide something for everyone in the family and a full weekend of fun. In fact, there have been several occasions where family reunions are centered around the marathon.
The course records are as follows:
Male: Elbhaizi Ahmed (Morocco): 2:29:53 (1994)
Female: Angela Batsford (Callander, Ont.): 3:06:38 (2005)
Male: Stan Trudeau (Toronto, Ont.): 1:10:40 (1997)
Female: Jennifer Faraone (Toronto, Ont.): 1:21:03 (2004)
Male: Eric Leishman (Chapleau, Ont.): 33:34 (2014)
Female: Katie Wisner (Sudbury, Ont.): 38:47 (2015)
Male: Justin Leale (Espanola, Ont.): 17:42 (2016)
Female: Emily Dodge (Garson, Ont.): 21:31 (2016)
For more information or to register, visit the website: http://www.masseymarathon.com/