The Stampede Grounds… Where it all begins…
The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth! Although I would love to claim that tag line for the Calgary Marathon, I’m sure you know the Calgary Stampede has already snagged it.
With just a week and a half to go, I thought I would start off a final countdown to our race with a little bit about the course. The where and why of the Calgary Marathon Race Weekend. And, if you are not already registered, get in! www.calgarymarathon.com.
The why… This may sound obvious but a lot of work goes into planning a marathon. And, the course is clearly a major part of that planning. Personally, if I am going to put in all the work required to run a marathon, I want to make sure that it has a number of features, one being the most enjoyable course possible. I would definitely say that checking out a course is a part of your marathon due diligence.
With our course here in Calgary, our team thought long and hard to figure out how we could show off the best that our beautiful City has to offer. We’re a Road Race. So, how do you find 42.2 km of actual open road that works well with the City and provides a great running experience. We believe that we have done just that. Over the next few days, I will describe a few aspects of our course that will give you a sense of why we run where we run!
The Stampede Grounds… What better venue is there for hosting our event? The Calgary Stampede has been part of Calgary culture for the past 100 years with over 2.5 million people attending sporting events, concerts, trade shows and meetings, it is beyond doubt a place where Calgarians, Canadians and indeed, the world convene! As Canada’s longest running marathon, we think it is a fitting venue to host the start and finish of the Calgary Marathon, and the National Half Marathon Championships! As the centre of sporting activity in Calgary, we join a very illustrious crowd.
And it works well… For organizing a major Road Race, the Grounds offer ample space for staging the start of your adventure. We have lots of space for runners to gather and get themselves geared up for the challenge head. There is a lot of space to warm up… or, if need be there is ample space for folks to stay warm pre race, in our perfect running weather climate! Everything you need to start your day will be close by so that you can focus on the task at hand. The Grounds also offer easy access, with Calgary transit or parking in and around the area.
The race starts on the Grounds, just outside the Stampede Grandstand, which plays host to the Calgary Stampede famed rodeo and chuck wagon races (more on this… 42.2 km later…). Just after the horn sounds to your right you will be passing the Agrium Western Event Centre, a state-of-the-art facility for western events and agriculture education, exhibition and industry in southern Alberta. This facility is truly unique and one of a kind for a major urban centre.
As you run north through the Park, you will pass between the Stampede Corral and the Scotiabank Saddledome. On your left you will pass the original home of the Calgary Flames, the Corral, which replaced the name Victoria Arena in 1950 and serves as an ice hockey, rodeo and tennis arena, as well as additional exhibition space for Calgary’s largest convention and exhibition centre. The Corral houses one of the most extensive private sports photo collections in Canada on public display, and has hosted several major events, including the 1972 World Figure Skating Championships and figure skating and ice hockey at the 1988 Winter Olympics.
To your right you won’t be able to miss the Scotiabank Saddledome, home to the Calgary Flames since 1983, the Calgary Roughnecks National Lacrosse League team, and the Calgary Hitmen Western Hockey League team. The Saddledome, named for the obvious shape of its roof, hosts over 150 events per year, including such notable events as the 1988 Winter Olympics, World Junior Hockey, and one of my most inspiring moments, an intimate 15,000 person get together with the Dalai Lama.
From there you will be poising through the Stampede Grounds gates and you are on your way into the heart of our city… safe running and more to come!