P.E.I. marathon puts age restriction in place

The P.E.I. Marathon now has age restrictions for its longer races after a nine-year-old boy ran the full marathon last fall.

The P.E.I. Marathon now has age restrictions for its longer races after nine-year-old Tyler Heggie ran the full marathon last fall.

Tyler Heggie ran the P.E.I. marathon last year in about 4 1/2 hours. (Karen Mair/CBC)

Runners under the age of 18 now face restrictions to run the half or full marathon. Runners under the age of 16 may not do the full marathon, and 16- and 17-year-olds require parental consent. To run the half marathon, participants now have to be at least 14, and those under 16 years require parental consent.

"It's not terribly different than if you go to the North Shore to rent a kayak or a canoe or windsurfing or rent a car," said Cheryl Paynter, co-chair of the marathon committee.

"Typically you have to be of consenting adult age. Our responsibility here for the marathon is to look after the event and the 2,500 runners that we have and to make sure we're market appropriate, so that's the guidelines we stuck to."

Paynter says the new regulations will put the P.E.I. marathon in line with other premier races, such as the Boston and New York marathons.

"We have a duty to ensure that all our participants are safe, and if someone under the age restrictions were to run and become injured, then perhaps we haven't done our duty and our due diligence of protecting our participants," said Jonathon Ross, the other committee co-chair.

Jamie Whynacht of Sport PEI told CBC News last year there are risks of heat exhaustion, and growth issues in children.

Tyler beat his father Andrew by two hours in the Saint John Marathon earlier this month. (Julia Cook/CBC)

Tyler Heggie is disappointed. He is still running marathons. Two weeks ago he participated in the Saint John Marathon, beating his father Andrew by two hours.

Andrew Heggie says restricting age limits isn't fair, because Tyler's doctor gave him the OK to participate.

"Every time you talk to someone you're going to hear, 'Oh, his growth is going to be stunted.' Well, let's see a stunted child who's ran too much. Show me one and I'll show you 1,000 maybe from hockey who've had concussions and more serious things," he said.

Andrew Heggie has appealed the new restriction and is waiting to hear from the committee.

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