Manitoba Marathon returns to in-person race after two-year hiatus

The 43rd Annual Manitoba Marathon kicked off in Winnipeg Sunday after a two-year break from in-person racing.

In 2020, COVID-19 prevented the marathon from taking place in person. Instead, it was modified into a virtual race where participants ran independently and submitted the results.

On Sunday, though, Chancellor Matheson Drive near IG Field was filled with runners and people on the sidelines showing support.

Greg Athayde ran in the half marathon. He said he's been participating in the marathon since the beginning.

"I actually ran the very first one in 1979 in high school and I ended up dropping out after halfway because I just wasn't trained to run a full marathon," said Athayde.

Athayde is glad to see the race returning to normal.

"Virtual races you're running by yourself, but here you have people to run with and it's good motivation, you get the crowds out."

For Emily Schwartz, the 43rd Manitoba Marathon is the 7th half marathon she's finished.

Last year she participated in the marathon virtually. She said it wasn't the same.

"There's definitely a component of adrenaline and stuff you get running with this kind of crowd. It was amazing to see all the people still on the sidelines cheering everyone on."

Schwartz said she feels a greater sense of accomplishment racing in person with other runners.

"To actually finish and get your medal instead of getting your medal in the mail before you even run the race. It's kind of like, well do I have to run it now?"

Executive Director of the Manitoba Marathon, Rachael Munday, said the race is operating differently this year due to COVID-19.

Runners wear a mask when they're not on the course, people are social distancing, and water stations aren't handing out disposable cups; they're refilling people's bottles.

"We changed the waves sizes. We restricted entry to a certain number of participants. We ran people out on a false start, which is five runners every five seconds," said Munday

Munday said the marathon usually has 2,000 volunteers, but this year they only had 400 to keep numbers low.

The marathon is traditionally held on Father's Day. Munday said they plan to have the race fall on that day in 2022.

As for Athayde, he's just glad to be back on the course with other runners regardless of the time of year.

"It's been a great experience this year, so looking forward to next year."

At the marathon, Brian Walker won the men's gold with a time of 2:29:24, and Nicole Walker won the women's with a time of 2:52:55.