As we leave Inglewood, nearing in on 3 km into the race, we’ll be leaving the south shores of the Bow River and heading onto St. George’s Island, home of the Calgary Zoo! First thing to do when crossing the bridge… Look left and right! You will have a beautiful view of the Bow River and downtown behind it. If you have not already checked it out, you may not know the Calgary Zoo is home to over a thousand animals, in addition to 290 species of individual insects and fishes. As with any great community partner, the Zoo goes beyond tradition and regularly hosts special events such as the largest seasonal light show in Western Canada, Zoolights is an animal themed show consisting of almost 3 million lights.
Although a decade ago the marathon briefly ran through the actual Zoo, race size and tight, twisty pathways in the Zoo did not lend itself to us getting more intimate with the animals. For now we run past on a pretty nice road and we save the visits with the creatures to later in the day (or maybe after your recovery), which I highly recommend.
From the Zoo, we continue our travels to the north side of the Bow and into the community of Bridgeland. Formerly the two separate villages of Riverside, an area along the north side of the Bow River known as the “working man’s district”, and Bridgeland, the terrace directly north and named from the nearby operating Dominion Bridge Company, the area was recently the staging ground of the Calgary Marathon.
Riverside was first settled by Russian-German immigrants during Calgary’s first population boom in the 1880s, and soon became known as Germantown. At the beginning of the 20th century, the area was a popular location for Italian immigrants which led to a concentration of Italian bakeries, restaurants and groceries. The concentration diminished over time but the strip along 1st Avenue NE is often still referred to as Little Italy.
After close to a century of being home to Calgary’s Memorial Hospital, the community has seen a resurgence as yet another hip inner city community. Bridgeland is close to the Zoo, Telus Spark, has LRT access, and boasts a quick walk to downtown and has excellent dinner options.
Originally connected to Calgary by the Foggs Ferry, by 1890 a wooden Langevin Bridge was built, named for Sir Hector-Louis Langevin, one of the Fathers of the Canadian Confederation. On race day, the Langevin Bridge will get you through kilometer 6 and over the Bow into the East Village.