Scenes from the 2016 Saskatchewan Marathon.

In-person racing returns to Sask. Marathon

Registration is open for the 2022 Saskatchewan Marathon — and race organizers are thrilled to be offering in-person events for the first time since 2019.

“We plan to organize a live event that will be comparable to past years,” says race director Kim Ali. “We’ve heard from past participants that the race atmosphere and the party after the event is really what they’re missing — and that’s what we’re going to deliver.”

In-person events will take place on May 29 and there will also be an option for participants to sign up for virtual runs, which can be completed from May 30 to June 30.

Planning near-simultaneous in-person and virtual events at a time when health restrictions are constantly shifting is a lot of work, but Ali still found time to chat with the Brainsport Times about what runners can expect from the upcoming race.

Virtual events expected to be popular

Volunteers got lots of practice preparing and mailing out packages for virtual race participants the last two years — and those skills will be put to the test again.

“We know some people who joined us virtually in the past aren’t quite ready to do a live event and that there are people who aren’t able to travel to Saskatoon and still want to be part of the Saskatchewan Marathon,” Ali says. “Virtual will be an important part of what we offer.”

Scenes from the 2016 Saskatchewan Marathon.
Scenes from the 2016 Saskatchewan Marathon. Photo By Calvin So/

Family friendly

New this year, the Saskatchewan Marathon is offering a Family 2-kilometre run or walk. Individuals can register for $30 or a family of four can register for $90.

“That’s something unique and different and part of our efforts to provide opportunities for everyone to have a race at their own pace,” Ali says.

More flexibility in the MaraFun

The MaraFun program — which gives kids aged five to 13 an opportunity to complete a marathon in a novel way — used to be a 10-week program that culminated in a 2.2-kilometre race in Saskatoon. Now it will offer both six- and 10-week options and provide a structure for participants to host races anywhere.

Parents, teachers or other adults can sign up to be group leaders and gain access to a training plan that will help them guide young participants to run, walk and wheel 40 kilometres for the duration of the program before capping it off with a race.

New walking categories

Over the last two years of virtual races, race organizers heard from participants who wanted to be able to compare themselves to other participants tackling the distances in the same way they were. In response, registrants of the 2022 event can register as runners or walkers in any distance (except for the live Brainsport 42.2K event) and see how their results compare to others in the same category.

Scenes from the 2016 Saskatchewan Marathon.
Scenes from the 2016 Saskatchewan Marathon. Photo by Josh Schaefer/

Safety first

The Saskatchewan Marathon will follow all provincial public health guidelines at the time of the race. It is likely that participants will have to present proof of vaccination in order to participate in the live event.

“We’ll do whatever we can to make it safe for everyone and so that everyone is comfortable,” Ali says.

That means that if runners sign up for an in-person event but realize they’d feel more comfortable in a virtual event they’ll be able to change their registration.

Strengthened relationship with Meewasin

The Meewasin has long been the charity of choice for the Saskatchewan Marathon, with participants given the opportunity to donate to the organization when registering for an event. Now, the Saskatchewan Marathon has pledged to turn 100 per cent of proceeds over to Meewasin.

“Meewasin does so much for us in the community from making the trails accessible to building to new trails and widening trails,” Ali says. “This relationship makes sense for us as our Saskatoon participants use the trails every day, and Meewasin is such an integral part of our community.”

Runners in the 2017 MaraFun.
Runners in the 2017 MaraFun.

Marathon results count for world rankings

The Saskatchewan Marathon is an Abbott World Marathon Majors Wanda Age Group World Rankings qualifier. That means marathon times for runners aged 40 and older score points that count toward the AbbottWMM Wanda Age Group World Rankings.

Top runners in each age group will qualify to run in the 2022 AbbottWMM Wanda Age Group World Championships, which will take place within the 2022 TCS London Marathon on Oct. 2.

Rebranded marathon

To recognize Brainsport’s 30 years of support for the Saskatchewan Marathon — and the store’s promise of future support — the marathon distance run will now be known as the Brainsport 42.2k Run.

For more information and to register, visit Registration fees increase Feb. 28.