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|Returning for a ninth year on May 5 & 6, the Mississauga Marathon has grown into a “can’t miss” stop on the Canadian racing calendar – attracting 10,000-plus participants, and 30,000 spectators
||story Mike Beggs
That includes about 2,000 competitive marathoners, attracted to this 42.2K Boston qualifier by its beautiful, net downhill, course.
“We get runners from 18 countries every year, so it has become an international event,” says event coordinator Krystal Duz, with the local Landmark Sport Group. “Racers plan their entire year in advance. It’s amazing to see our event on their lists.”
And this year organizers hope to boost the event’s fundraising profile through a new partnership with the Scotiabank Group Charity Challenge -proven successful at Toronto, among other marathons.
“This is a big breakthrough for us,” says Landmark president Elliott Kerr.
“One of the challenges with this event has been increasing the fundraising side.”
This new initiative will allow multiple charities to “piggyback” on the 2012 Mississauga Marathon, without having to organize their own fundraising event. Scotiabank will be granting them free online fundraising and tax receipting through its Artez Interactive software – so their charity receives 100 per cent of the donations raised, plus monetary prizes.
Another “coup” for 2012 is an arrangement making Under Armour the official race day supplier of shirts – for the Marathon, Half Marathon, Petrillo Law Corporate/Team Relay, and the Valeant Pharmaceuticals 10K Run/Walk.
“We’re thrilled to have Under Armour on board as an event partner,” says race director Ben McCarty. “We’re always striving for the best for our runners and walkers, and our partnership with Under Armour provides them with the best in athletic apparel.”
Duz notes that this year’s medals will feature a spinner design, with a 3-D image of the Port Credit Lighthouse, “a huge landmark in this city.”
“A lot of people run these just for the medal, something to display on the wall,” she says. “That’s why we change our medals every year.”
Also, a Youtube channel for the Mississauga Marathon has just been launched, showing footage from the previous races.
“We’re finding, definitely, (our) social media has skyrocketed,” she adds.
“We’re getting a lot more attention on the websites.”
This year, organizers are also doing a ceremonial tree planting, “to give something back to the community.”
The Mississauga Marathon also includes the 10K Student Relay, and the 2K MaraFun Family Run/Walk, making it truly, “a run for everybody.”
This year’s race will start off by cutting through the new, $40-million Celebration Square (outside city hall), before taking in scenic vistas along the Burnhamthorpe Road Bridge, Mississauga Road, the University of Toronto at Mississauga Campus, and neighbourhoods like Clarkson, Lorne Park, and Port Credit, before finishing up in Lakeside Promenade Park.
“It’s really a nice course,” Duz says. “Towards the end, you’re running along the GTA Waterfront Trail and you can see the Toronto Skyline.”
“(And) we get a lot of people achieving their personal bests at our event, because it’s a net downhill.”
Over the years, Kerr has received more than a few e-mails from Mississaugans who ran the Marathon, saying, “I didn’t know my city had this to offer.” And indeed, the Marathon has become one of the marquee events of the year in Mississauga, boosting its profile while bringing in serious tourist collars.
At this point, Kerr would, “stack it up against any marathon in Canada.”
However, after peaking at 14,000 participants in 2010, entries dropped to 10,000 last year - after the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon was moved to the same day – posing a new challenge for organizers.
“We hope to find a way to coexist,” he comments. ”We’re trying to differentiate ourselves.” GL
| ABOVE photo by Steve Der-Garabedian
photo courtesy of Landmark Sport Group