Queen City Marathon and the Night Owl 5K
With virtual options, it’s not too late to take part in the race
Can you tell me about your roles and responsibilities for the Queen City Marathon (QCM)?
“I’m Shawn Weimer, the Executive Director of Run Regina, and the Race Director for the GMS Queen City Marathon. Those are sort of the two biggest roles I play within the organization. For me it’s my full-time job, managing the organization, and as an organization we’ve really got two things that we do. As Run Regina we are here to build the running and walking community within the city of Regina itself and to promote all things running and walking. As Queen City Marathon it’s to put on the best and biggest marathon this province has seen every single year.”
I heard you say “running and walking,” so could you tell me more about how you define those groups?
“We use the term running very broadly. Really, run is run, walk, hop, skip; I look at it as move from point A to point B, you get there how you get there. Obviously not on a bike or in a car, this is all doing it on your own. That being said, we do also have inclusion of people who are using some sort of mobility device whether that’s wheelchair-athletes racing that way, we’ve had kids in little scooters who participate in the events that we do, to adults who need to have canes or walkers or whatever it might be. It’s a very broad interpretation […] we want them to know up front that we want to include them in what we do.”
Has the Queen City Marathon already happened, or are people still able to participate?
“Both! So, because we are still in the middle of a pandemic, our in-person event which we returned to this year had about 1,500 people participate the weekend of September 10, 11, 12, so we have three days of racing. Normally that would see close to 7,000 runners over those three days, so pre-pandemic that was kind of the numbers we were looking at. In 2020, as well as happening right now are our virtual marathon races. People are still able to participate right now and through October 15 in the Queen City Marathon this year in any of the distances, and we actually – since race weekend – still have people registering, and still have people going out there and running their race.”
What have been the benefits of adding that virtual, extended option?
“It does mean that it’s open to people who aren’t necessarily in Regina, so it was important for us to maintain that virtual version for a number of reasons this year. One, we knew not everyone was going to want to come back to whatever size it was going to be in terms of people, some just weren’t comfortable. We wanted to make sure we had an option for people come race weekend to opt out of in-person if they were feeling sick, but not have them miss out on the event itself. In 2019 had I woken up race morning with the flu and I felt uncomfortable running, that would’ve been it – I would’ve missed it. This year we said do not come, don’t show up at the race, we’re happy to allow you to transfer your registration to a virtual, we’ll still let you do your own thing, you’re going to get your t-shirt, your medal, you’ll get to put your race time into the results, but please do not come and infect the 1,500 people that are coming to our race.”
Fill me in on the University of Regina Night Owl 5K – how did it start, and how’s it gone through the pandemic?
“We were able to actually start and end on the university campus. So not only was it a chance for the university to get involved, it was a chance to physically bring the race to the university campus itself which was a really cool opportunity […] from year one we had about 500 people to 2019, the last year that we ran it fully in-person like that, we were in excess of 1,000 people. We had originally done it between the two residence towers kind of at the edge of the green, that’s kind of the space that we were in, there’s a little horseshoe space in there at the entrance. We outgrew that in 2019 and had to actually move out into one of the parking lots because we were such a big event, we weren’t able to kind of squish everybody in there anymore.
“2020 obviously everything went virtual, this year it was a combination of both virtual – people are still running it now – as well as in-person. I think we had about 400 people this year, so it was still a large run – I mean it was the largest run in Saskatchewan since September 2019, so it was big – but we did actually move it off university campus this last year to the Conexus Arts Centre which is the base for the rest of the race weekend. “That was for a couple reasons. One, again, trying to ensure protection of the entire community. We wanted to make sure that the university students had the best opportunity to come back successfully, and there’s a lot of change on campus from bringing students back for the first time in a year to the new president to a lot of different things, so we agreed to move it over for this year to see how that would go. For us it also logistically meant we didn’t have to operate two volunteer teams.”
Outside of running (or walking, or skipping, or hopping) in the race, how can students get involved with QCM?
“We have always opened the opportunities to volunteer up, and we’ve got groups from the university that are directly involved. The U of R Cougars men’s hockey team does host often a water station on the Night Owl race itself and they did that again this year, so they’re out there cheering and yelling, and handing out the water. The ultimate frisbee teams, men’s and women’s, historically have helped us do some of our core setup, so they go out and put up the kilometer marking signs at like two in the morning to make sure people the next morning know where they are. This year we actually had them out as course marshals instead, again trying to change things up a little bit because this year was weird. The JDC West business team has been involved almost since day one as volunteers, so they use it as part of their volunteer fundraising commitments as part of the club itself. So, there are some tight relationships that we have either through the teams or the clubs at the university to be able to get involved.”
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.