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Millarville Half-Marathon to mark start of market season

Roads will be alive with runners as the Millarville Run to the Farmers' Market hits the streets for the first time since 2019.

The Millarville Run to the Farmers’ Market returns to Diamond Valley this weekend where the streets will be teeming with runners for the first time since 2019.

The June 18 run features a half-marathon, a two-person relay and the Cobs Cinnamon Bun Run “8-Miler." The point-to-point half-marathon course winds through Black Diamond and Turner Valley before turning north and finishing at the Millarville Farmers’ Market as it opens for its 37th season at the Millarville Racetrack.

Race director Rick Charlton said they are expecting about 450 to 500 participants this year, down a little from the 2019 total of around 650.

Races are coming back, but many of them are still below the numbers they had in 2018 and 2019, Charlton said. A virtual event was held in 2020 for the Millarville Run, but runners are looking forward to returning to the real thing.

“I think people have been out running on their own, certainly, but it took a while for physical races to make a bit of a comeback,” he said.

The half-marathon started in 2012, and the relay was added in 2013, with the Cinnamon Bun Run 8-Miler starting in 2014.

“Starting in one place and running point-to-point to another place and the ending up in southern Alberta's largest, oldest outdoor markets is something fairly unique. A lot of races start and finish in a parking lot,”  said Charlton, adding he isn’t aware of anything else like it in North America.

“I think it's becoming well known in the local area, in terms of the Calgary area for sure. And (it’s) something fun for people to do.”

Participants have come from as far away as South Africa, he said, and there is usually a good contingent of runners from Saskatchewan and across Alberta.

Runners in the Cinnamon Bun Run 8 Miler have the option of eating two cinnamon buns on the route. Those in the ‘Runners’ category have the option of eating cinnamon buns, or they can run straight through.

Bunners, on the other hand, “are the people who have to stop twice and eat cinnamon buns along the way,” Charlton said.

There is a bonus cash prize if the top bunner beats the top runner to the finish line, which has been known to happen in the past, he said.

The half-marathon began as a way to supplement the opening day of the market, which happens during the shoulder season, before peak summer tourism starts, and is meant to help support local agricultural producers and raise awareness. It also aims to promote health and wellness and volunteerism in the rural community.

Charlton said it’s great when friends and family cheer a runner across the finish line and then visit the market for some shopping, food and music.

A runner himself, Charlton has run the course occasionally on his own, but has never had the chance to run in the race.

“Unfortunately, I've never run my own race and I can't,” he said. "It's a pretty busy time and pretty busy on race morning.”

There are about 150 volunteers contributing to the event on race day, many of them doing multiple jobs through the morning.

Half-marathon walkers start at 7 a.m, with half-marathon runners going at 7:30 a.m., with the other categories starting after that. Everybody is expected to be finished the race by 10:30 a.m.

Racetrack Road will be closed to thru-traffic from about 7:50 a.m. to 10:30 a.m..

Traffic control will be in place along the route in the morning, with rolling road closures ending as the last participant passes each point.

For more information on the event, traffic restrictions or FAQ’S, visit https://millarvillehalfmarathon.com/.


Robert Korotyszyn

About the Author: Robert Korotyszyn

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