Close to 400 athletes participated in the inaugural Wellington Mile race on Thanksgiving Monday, October 14.
“The mile is historic,” said Samantha Calder-Sprackman, who was the first woman across the line in the first heat. She noted that it is a great distance for a community run as it brings together many levels of runners, from amateur to elite.
“Anyone can run a mile,” she said. The diversity of participants certainly proved her point.
Warren Sloan completed the entire mile (1.6 kilometres) on crutches, not letting a broken leg hold him back.
Blind runner Shelley Ann Morris ran with her guide and sister Colleen Bird.
“What a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving, and be thankful for good health,” she said.
Many families also took advantage of the achievable distance to introduce their kids to timed races.
Wellington West’s Jenny Bouchard ran with her four-year-old son Mathias Ouellet. “I’m so proud of you!” she cheered, scooping him up in a hug as they crossed the finish line. For his part, Mathias said he had fun and that he ran “fast like the wind.”
Parkdale Avenue family David Jackson and Candace Hebart ran with their two children, Amelie, 3, and Thomas, 10 months. While Thomas cruised in the stroller, Amelie covered the distance herself.
“This is a great way to promote physical activity,” said Hebart.
Maya Aden, a senior youth worker with the Boys and Girls Club, brought a large group of youth to participate in the race. “In sports, running is often part of punishment,” Aden said. “This gets them to see it as something fun.”
Over 300 kids participated in the event free of charge. Among these were 19 kids from Queen Elizabeth Public School. Their teacher, Amy Charlton, praised the race for being a great opportunity to engage kids in physical activity. “Most kids haven’t had the opportunity to run in a timed race with chips, t-shirts, and medals,” she said, adding that the students were really excited to be part of it all.
The course looped around at the Wellington Avenue and Island Park Drive intersection, so racers finished back where they began. In the spirit of community and mutual support, Race Director Geordie McConnell encouraged participants of each heat to stay at the line to cheer on the rest of their heat members. Cowbells, cheers, and applause welcomed every runner approaching the finish line.
In addition to the many amateurs, the sold out race attracted men and women elite runners who competed for $2,000 worth of prizes. Kanata’s Leah Larocque, 24, won the women’s race with a time of 5:13, while Orlean’s Mohamed Souleiman, 20, pulled ahead in the men’s race to win with a time of 4:35.
McConnell hopes the Wellington Mile becomes a local Thanksgiving tradition.
“We want to have a wholly inclusive event that extends a classic race to everyone,” he said, and praised the hard work of all the volunteers who made it such a success.
Registration for the 2014 edition of the Wellington Mile will begin in the new year.