Date: June 19, 2016 Location: Banff, AB
The Banff Marathon truly is a top notch event in a beautiful location. The town of Banff has the highest elevation of any town in Canada and is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. The event featured a small running expo, free kids races, a 10K, Half Marathon, and Full Marathon. There were free tech shirts for the 10, 21, and 42. I ran the Half and my kids ran in the kids races.
The kids races were held on Jun 18, 2016; the day before the adults. I love this format because it gives the kids a day that is all about them. As an added bonus, kids ran for free and all kids got a finisher ribbon and post race snacks (I hear that last year all kids got medals). The kids races were broken down into age groups. Kids aged 4-6 ran 500m, ages 7-9 ran 750m, and 10-12 year olds ran 1Km. It was raining off and on and was a perfect temperature for running, no sun screen required. The kids route was all on a paved path around Banff Central Park and did not cross any roads. The kids finished through the finish gate that the adults would use the next day and got to experience what their parents would experience the next day.
Race Day! The 10K started 30 minutes before the Full Marathon started and then the Half Marathon started 30 minutes after that. The Half and Full routes this year were an out and back along the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail that runs from Banff to Canmore. It was raining all morning but the rain stopped as I was walking to the starting corrals. In total there were 1004 participants for just the Half Marathon. They had pace markers in the starting corral so that runners could position themselves accordingly and this worked quite well. All runners were released at the same time, not staggered, but because of the pace signs, it was not too congested. This was also a chip timed event.
We started running east from Central Park and through some residential streets for the first 2km. There were 3 turns and then the course narrowed to the paved Legacy Trail. There were plenty of people cheering along the route. The Trail was mostly downhill leaving town, which scared me a little knowing that this was an out and back. There were plenty of aid stations along the course and each one had both Gatorade and Water. I took advantage of each station.
We crossed a timing mat just before the turnaround and this time was posted with the results after the race. At the 12km mark I was beginning to hit a wall and my race was saved by the aid station at the 14km mark. They had energy bars and power gels. I grabbed a power gel and 1 km later, I was feeling the boost and ready to pick my pace back up. After making it back into town and through the residential, we ran across a walking bridge, past the Native American museum, and then looped back. We went over the large bridge that connects downtown to the Sulphur Mountain attractions area and then turned along side Central Park. To a huge cheering crowd I picked it up and finished strong. My wife and daughters were volunteering and it was very special to have my kids place my medal around my neck at the finish line.
In the finish area there was Gatorade and Water, in biodegradable cups, power bars, bananas, apples, and muffins. They had a post race beer garden and food truck as well for those that wanted. They only had finisher medals for the Half and Full, sorry 10K folks.
Along the course there were 4 photographer spots and I was sent a link to my proofs within 2 days of the race. I prefer free photos (offered by events such as Mud Hero, Kathy’s Run, and the Woody RV World Marathon). This event did have scenic pictures, but I don’t want to spend $60 for pictures that I probably won’t even print.
Overall, I enjoyed this race and will probably do it again, but it was a costly trip and not a cheap entry fee so this will not be an annual event for me.