Floodwaters fail to dampen runners' spirits as 40th Fredericton marathon smashes records
Over 2,300 runners participated in Sunday's event
Though floodwaters may have forced race organizers to change course, they could not dampen the spirits of runners at this year's Scotiabank Fredericton Marathon.
Some even broke records, including marathon winner Jean-Marc Doiron, who finished in two hours, 33 minutes and 35 seconds, smashing the previous record of 2:34:46 by close to a minute.
Doiron, 30, of Rogersville finished last year's marathon in third place with a time of 2:44:32.
This year's win felt like a redemption, he said.
"Last year I wanted to win it, I wanted to get the record and I crashed. So I've been just thinking about this every day, 365 days," he said. "I'm speechless right now."
Originally, the Westmorland Street Bridge was to be closed for the marathon as it marked its 40th year. Ten days before the race, however, the city asked organizers to change course because of the flooding that has strained roads and infrastructure throughout the Fredericton.
The change in route didn't throw off Doiron, who said runners need to be adaptable.
"When you're training for a marathon, there's always going to be curve balls thrown at you," he said.
Over 2,300 runners registered for Sunday's events, which included the full marathon, half-marathon, and 5K and 10K events, a record-breaking attendance for the event's 40th anniversary, said communications co-ordinator Bruce MacFarlane.
"It was a bit of a scramble at the last minute, but we're so fortunate," MacFarlane said. "Forty years, not many people can say that."
MacFarlane said it was "a bit of a disappointment" to not be able to mark the anniversary by crossing the bridge, but organizers didn't want to put additional strain on the community.
"The community has been affected and shutting down a major artery at this time didn't make sense, and we totally agreed, and we were blessed that we could pull off this race," he said.
Luckily, Fredericton has three Boston Qualifying certified routes. The 42.2-kilometre route used Sunday was actually developed because of the historic flooding of 2008, MacFarlane said.
For the second year in a row, Heather O'Donnell of Greenwood, N.S., was the first woman to finish the full marathon, with a time of 2:59:42.
She said she and her friends were just happy the race went forward after the flooding.
"We spent, like, 18 weeks training for it, and you take the weekend off and get organized and everything," she said. "But it turned out to be the perfect weekend."
Shelley Doucet of Quispamsis broke the women's 10K race record with a time of 35:57, while Lee Wesselius of River Glade broke the men's half-marathon record in 1:11:08.