The GMS Queen City Marathon is going in-person — here’s what you need to know

This fall’s GMS Queen City Marathon will feature in-person racing — the largest race in Saskatchewan to do so since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic — and race director Shawn Weimer expects it to make for an emotional weekend.

“We’re bringing the community back together and it’s going to be a huge opportunity to celebrate what we’ve all gone through for the last 16 months,” he says.

But just because in-person racing is back doesn’t mean race weekend will look the same as it used to.

Weimer spoke with the Brainsport Times about what to expect at this year’s GMS Queen City Marathon, which is offering in-person racing the weekend of Sept. 10-12 and options to enter virtual race times throughout the month of September. Please note that plans could change between now and race day; monitor the QCM website for the most up-to-date information on race policies.

There will be fewer people

Typically the GMS Queen City Marathon sees between 6,000 and 7,000 people descend on Regina throughout race weekend. This year, the organizing committee is expecting roughly 3,000 to 4,000 people racing in person, with another 1,000 or so opting to participate in the virtual race option.

Those numbers will be spread out throughout the weekend, with the University of Regina Night Owl 5K being run Friday, the family five-kilometre and 10-kilometre races happening Saturday and the half marathon and marathon taking place Sunday.

“The positive of it is that if people want to run the 10k and the half marathon or the 10k and the full marathon, now that’s something that they can do this year that they were never able to do in the past,” Weimer says.

Registration is restricted

For the immediate future, registration for in-person events is open only to residents of Saskatchewan aged 12 and over — though this will be revisited closer to race weekend.

Weimer notes that the Manitoba Marathon is happening the weekend before QCM and the Calgary Marathon is happening the weekend after.

“It’s really three busy weekends and I think people will find what they need in a marathon close to home,” Weimer says.

Anyone is welcome to sign up for virtual race options.

There may not be a race expo

Runners will still be able to pick up race packages, but the race expo either won’t exist or will be very small.

“All of the bells and whistles are being put on hold for this year and we’re taking a whole year to plan for 2022 and bring it back bigger than we’ve ever done it before,” Weimer says.

You may be asked to wear a mask

While a final decision is expected closer to race weekend, Weimer says it’s likely that race volunteers will be masked and that participants will be asked to wear masks when they aren’t able to physically distance, such as at the start and finish areas.

“We’re really not looking to go into this with minimum standards. We want to make sure that we are doing this safely and that we aren’t going to end up being a super spreader event of any nature,” Weimer says.

No mass start

Instead of sending all runners off at once, the weekend’s races are likely to utilize a “pulse start” that will see small groups of runners take off every 15 to 20 seconds. Runners will be placed in starting cohorts based on their expected finish times.

Aid stations will look different

To help people stay distanced, aid stations will feature more tables.

In previous years volunteers have handed water cups to runners, but it’s likely that runners will be asked to grab cups from tables themselves this year.

“It probably has the effect of slowing down some of the fast runners a little bit, but for one year, it kind of is what it is,” Weimer says.

For more information on this year’s GMS Queen City Marathon, visit their website.