By most runners’ standards, it was disastrous. Though he’d managed to get in shape, McGee hit “the wall,” his body exhausted its stored energy and gave up. He alternated between jogging and walking to end up second-last.
Many runners say that; few mean it. McGee moved to Edmonton and was convinced by friends to try the local marathon. After doing some research, he devised a plan to follow 20 minutes of running with two minutes of walking. “And it worked!” – no wall. But just as he got hooked, the race hit its own wall in 1992, succumbing to financial struggles. With some friends, he took on its revival, taking the next year to organize the event’s 1994 comeback.
Ever since, the Edmonton Marathon has been on its own quest of reinvention and self-improvement, trying on different themes and courses. Last year, however, the race may have finally hit its stride. Relocating downtown is one reason. Bigger than that, though, is its local-first resolve.
“The mandate of the [Edmonton] Marathon is that it’s inclusive,” says John Stanton, one of McGee’s friends who helped restart the race. He’s also the founder and CEO of The Running Room, which took over as event organizer in 2003. “It’s focused on the weekend athlete and it’s their Olympic moment. The last hundred yards, there’s a feeling of empowerment, elation.”