British Columbia

BMO Vancouver Marathon breaks attendance record buoyed by star power

More than 18,000 runners participated in one of three distances at the annual event.

More than 18,000 runners participated in one of three distances at scenic race

Japan's Yuki Kawauchi and fiancée Yuko Mizuguchi celebrate their wins at the 2019 BMO Vancouver Marathon. (RUNVAN)

Organizers of the BMO Vancouver Marathon are celebrating record-breaking participation, while some big names from the world of sport also helped make the annual event sparkle.

For the first time since its inception in 1972, more than 18,000 runners participated in either the full marathon, half marathon or an eight-kilometre distance.

Two of Vancouver's best-known athletes ran their first marathon at the event — Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

The former star Canucks hockey players and twin brothers wore their famous 22 and 33 as their race bib numbers.

Daniel finished in the top 200 with a time of 3:11:45, while Henrik was further back at 3:24:11.

'Awesome'

"It was awesome," Daniel Sedin said in a news release. "This is our first race. I think we'll want to do it next year for sure."

Meanwhile, the participation of one of the most popular marathoners in the world also helped put a shine on the race.

Organizers worked hard in the lead-up to the event to convince Japan's Yuki Kawauchi to compete.

Kawauchi, 32, captured worldwide attention after his underdog win at the 2018 Boston Marathon.

Japanese marathon star Yuki Kawauchi at the start line of the BMO Vancouver Marathon on Sunday May, 5, 2019. (Chris Corday/CBC)

He's also known for the sheer volume of racing he does. Most serious marathoners run no more than two marathons per year. He ran 10 in 2018.

Although he is now sponsored, Kawauchi is known as the "Citizen Runner" because up until this year he held down a full-time job while racing internationally.

In Vancouver, he crushed the course record Sunday by more than three minutes. His finishing time was 2:15:01.

To celebrate, he was joined by his fiancee, Yuko Mizuguchi, who won the women's race in 2:41:28.

Yuko Mizuguchi was just one of several international runners helping to boost attendance at the BMO Vancouver Marathon. (Chris Corday/CBC)

Both said in a release from race organizers that they loved the beauty of the city and course.

"It's not an easy course, but it's a very beautiful course," said Kawauchi. "I would definitely recommend coming here to enjoy it and get the most out of it, it's a great event."

Organizers are trying to make the race one of the top destination marathons in the world and say the number of international runners has grown by 25 per cent in the past two years.

There were 65 countries represented at this year's race.

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