As we continue our journey south, we turn onto 17th Ave S, heading west. This is where the Half Marathoners head straight on and the Marathoners will shortly turn left, heading further south.
Uptown 17th, or the Red Mile, for anyone who watches playoff hockey, is a vibrant place to hang out and grab a bite to eat or just stroll and check out the shops. 17th is that bridge between downtown high density living and suburban life. It is a rarity that 17th Ave will not be packed on a Friday night, especially if there is a game on at the Scotiabank Saddledome. A short walk, if you are coming or going to the Stampede grounds, or just a great place to go as a destination, 17th Ave has a great concentration of restaurants and watering holes that will make it tough to choose. If you are from Calgary, you know about the Red Mile energy, if you’re from out of town, it’s a place to check out.
At 5th St, the marathoners will be heading south through the community of Cliff Bungalow into Elbow Park and onto Elbow Dr. We are now heading into the southern suburbs with beautiful tree lined streets and brushing up against the Elbow River for a brief few moments. At 30th Ave SW, we take a right turn and shortly will start the climb to the far south part of our course. 30th goes straight into Premier Way, the start of the climb. After many years of running, I never grow tired of this short hill. Premier way weaves its way up to the higher levels of SW Calgary while concealing the challenge ahead. No doubt, this is a tough part of the course, but its early in so with the right pace your energy levels should be where you need them.
After the short climb, you will weave through Elbow Park the cross over to the SW community of Altadore and venture a little further uphill alongside one of the most popular dog parks in Calgary, River Park. I have had a fondness for River Park for years. From the moment you touch the edges adjacent to 38th Ave it is one mile to the top. Not exactly Heartbreak Hill, ok, nowhere close, but it is nonetheless a nice little change up from the flat. Once at the top of yet another great Calgary urban green space, turn your head to the left and you will be greeting by yet another great view of the city.
From River Park we move on to the Garrison Community, a hugely successful project in urban renewal. Growing out of the former Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Calgary, designers aimed to recognize the land’s military history through street names, memorials, public spaces and utilizing and retro fitting older military buildings. The plans also called for a focus on pedestrian movement and community interaction to create an enhanced community feel. I think it worked and it makes a great fit for the Calgary Marathon course.
Now across Crowchild Trail and in the Mt Royal University, or MRU. Calgary’s newest university campus was originally founded as a primary and secondary school in 1910, moving to become a post-secondary institution in 1931 and ultimately Mount Royal University in 2009, comprised of thirteen schools and faculties and educating about 12,000 students per year. The Calgary Marathon on recently added MRU to our curriculum, giving both residents and visitors a taste of Calgary’s beautiful and most modern educational facility. MRU is also the SW corner of the Calgary Marathon, so once you are through, you are starting your journey home!