All posts by Dan O

Calgary Marathon Course Part 2… On the Road Again…

As we leave the Stampede Grounds heading north up Olympic Way, we pass through historic Victoria Park. Established in 1914 and named in honour of Queen Victoria, it is one of Calgary’s oldest communities with a modern flare. Part of the Rivers District, a core area of our course which includes Victoria Park, Downtown East Village, the Stampede Grounds, the Calgary Zoo and Fort Calgary, it is a hotbed for potential new and rejuvenated development. Soon to add to the charm of this neighbourhood will be East Victoria Park, a neighbourhood park for Calgarians who live and work in the community. In addition, a number of residential and office projects are planned as well as the Stampede’s expansion, proposed extension of Olympic Way into East Village, and the redevelopment of CPR lands.

We’ll literally get back to Victoria Park shortly but as we pass the 1 km mark of the race we quickly pass under one of Calgary’s new infrastructure projects, the 4th Street underpass. This direct connection between East Village / Inglewood area and the Beltline dramatically improves walkability (and run-ability) for Calgary’s Rivers District.

The wide sidewalks and dedicated bicycle lanes with state-of-the-art LED lighting in the walls and handrails make the space brighter and more appealing. Its canopy is also a unique kinetic artwork installation. Within a galvanized metal armature, hundreds of aluminum fans are fastened to pivots that allow each fin to move with the motion of the wind or a passing train. The installation also allows light to penetrate the space below.


After you emerge from this underpass, you will turn right onto 9th Ave SE, or as it was historically known, Atlantic Avenue. Almost immediately, to your left, you will pass by historic Fort Calgary, the birthplace of our fine city. At the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers this is the original location of the North West Mounted Police fort built in 1875. Over the years, Fort Calgary was a police administration centre, a community symbol of law, order and prosperity, a hospital, a refuge, a social centre, and a focal point for settlers, ranchers and business.

For most of the first half of the last century, Calgary’s origins were hidden under a railway yard and storage area. In 1974, thanks largely to the efforts of Alderman John Ayer, The City of Calgary bought the site and returned the city’s birthplace to the public domain. Work started on an Interpretive Centre in 1975, the site was cleaned up and regained its position as a centre for Calgarians to celebrate our past and plan for the future.


Over the Elbow River and into Inglewood! Atlantic Avenue (9th Ave SE) was Calgary’s original downtown thoroughfare, fortunately retaining much of its original feel with numerous historical building. You will literally be running through Calgary’s history at this point. Although Inglewood has experience a few down years, the neighbourhood is one of Calgary’s hottest right now! During the day you have a selection of great shops and restaurants and that carries over to the evening where you can dine or even dance with one of Calgary’s best live music venues, the Ironwood Stage and Grill. If you are looking for great dinner option, Rouge is a past winner of the Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurant award. Rouge will be waving as you leave the south shores of the Bow heading over to the Zoo Island. More to come…

The Course… Calgary Marathon Countdown

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!

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!


The White Hat Award Kick Off!

Alright, after dreaming of getting a blog going, I have finally worked out enough of the bugs and put together something that may not be perfect but gets me going. My first entry, here we go…

Last night I had the honour of representing the Calgary Marathon organization at the Calgary White Hat Awards.

53rd Annual Calgary White Hat Awards

Amazing ambassadors wear white hats.

The 53rd Annual Calgary White Hat Awards, a one-of-a-kind event that includes a red carpet, live awards and gala reception, will take place on May 13, 2015. The Awards celebrate inspiring Calgarians in the tourism industry who go above and beyond and strive to make their guests’ experience a memorable one.

What a great event! What a great honour.

As President of the Calgary Marathon Society, my personal vision is to work with a great team and build the best event possible to promote the sport I love. And, to integrate our sport into our great broader community of Calgary! I am very fortunate to work with an amazing team of volunteers (near 1500 of them) who work their behind off for the running and walking community. That team and our participants (folks from every province and territory in Canada as well as 23 countries) were recognized last night for their contribution to Calgary! We won! We were co-recognized with a great Calgary attraction, Heritage Park, under the category of “festival, event, attraction.”

This award has been a compliment to our 50th year! We set records across the board, more kids engaged in healthy activities, more participants, more charitable funds raised, faster winning times and a lot more fun! We will proudly wear our White Hat that has recognized our past success but also, in the spirit of the White Hat, we will look forward to building the best opportunities for Calgary runners and the best for folks who don’t live in our community but are looking for somewhere to run. Clearly our team believes that you should come visit us here in Calgary, you won’t be disappointed!

Thanks Tourism Calgary and the City of Calgary (all of the departments and individuals) for believing in our team and event!

Thanks Team for doing such a great job!

Healthy Running!