Marathon in Churchill, Man. gives polar bears the right of way

​A race in the polar bear capital of the world took off without a hitch Sunday.

Fifth annual Polar Bear Marathon took place Sunday

Niall Murray at the Polar Bear Marathon. (Alex Berg)

A race in the polar bear capital of the world took off without a hitch Sunday.

The fifth annual Polar Bear Marathon brought out dozens of runners, but no polar bears were seen.

At least not according to Shawn Manning who lives in Churchill and ran in the annual marathon for the first time.

Manning, who ran a half marathon, said he didn't see any polar bears during his run, but he knows they were very close at one point. "We did hear the bangers, at about the 11th or 12th kilometre we could hear a bear banger," he said.

Bear bangers make loud gunshot sounds aimed to scare the bears away. If a bear is seen, runners have to give it the right of way and get shelter.

Shawn Manning, above right, posing with his three-year old daughter Madison, ran in Churchill's polar bear marathon for the first time on Sunday. (Lisa Manning)

While the polar bears may have been hiding, the windchill was not. Manning said the Town of Churchill reached – 22 C today — warm for this time of year.

"It was challenging, but it was a really nice day," he said.

"It's the wind, if the windchill is really cold obviously it makes things very challenging but the wind was on our side today, it wasn't blowing as hard as it could have been that's for sure."

Manning laughs when asked if Sunday's race was scary for him. "Well, I live here," he said.

"You're constantly looking and monitoring because you know when they're lying down they certainly blend in, you're always on the watch."

​Quinton Hart, and Nick Harman (right) ​took part in Sunday's polar bear marathon. (Alex Berg)

Manning said all the runners were accompanied by vehicles carrying items they may need like water and extra clothing.

He said the trek is also very challenging because the roadways are sheets of ice, so runners have to stick to the side of the road. 

"It is very hard, the rocks inside are very jagged which is kind of where you will run because the middle of the roads are so icy so you gotta find the best spots," he said.

"It's either you pick the rougher terrain at the edge of the road or you're running on basically glass sheets of ice."

As for what you wear to a polar bear run, "Layers, lots of layers," he laughed.

with files from Nelly Gonzalez