For a decade, runners have enjoyed coastal routes and the unique East Coast experience of Maritime Race Weekend. Considering the event’s popularity, it will disappoint and surprise many runners to learn the organizers have decided to end the event.
“Our 10-year anniversary was a success, but significantly harder to organize than previous years,” says race director Michelle Kempton.
She says the Maritime Race Weekend, like other running events across Canada, faced countless new challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. “New permit requirements, challenges getting traffic control, policing and volunteers, significantly lower registration numbers and sponsorship support, plus increased costs from service providers and vendors were all major factors that led to this decision,” says Kempton.
“Behind the scenes, we faced a number of changes and obstacles. We put on a brave face and delivered what runners have come to expect from our event, but the roadblocks made us question whether we should continue,” she says.
Kempton says the lives of core volunteers, board members and the event’s race director significantly changed. “I worked full time for Maritime Race Weekend since it started, but during the pandemic, I had to find a new job. For six months last year, my evenings, weekends and vacation were spent planning and organizing Maritime Race Weekend. This limited my time with family left me exhausted and resulted in health issues,” she says.
With a track record of selling out months before race day, runners noticed registration didn’t open immediately following last year’s event. By December, Maritime Race Weekend’s silence on social media, lack of early-bird giveaways and medal reveals were certainly noticed by runners. In the spring, emails started to flood into Maritime Race Weekend’s inbox, asking when the race registration would open. Kempton says she didn’t know how to respond, because the event’s future hadn’t been decided. The pressure to make a decision increased.
Kempton says that after significant reflection and long discussions with the board of directors, she decided she couldn’t continue juggling a challenging career, family and Maritime Race Weekend. Kempton told the board members she needed to step away from the event. That decision didn’t come quickly or easily, because Kempton had deep feelings of obligation for the volunteers, runners and her community.
The board briefly considered the idea of continuing on without Kempton , but in the end, it was felt that the event wouldn’t be the same without her. Kempton created this event and put her heart and soul into making it what it had become today. The board supported Kempton’s decision and unanimously agreed to end the event.
“We had a good run, and we want to end on a high note,” says Kempton. “The dedicated volunteers and loyal runners who returned year after year were the reason for our success. I’m eternally grateful for their continued support and the lifelong friendships that I made through Maritime Race Weekend.”
Maritime Race Weekend organizers earned a reputation for being innovative and setting the bar for road races, with swag and medals exceeding participant expectations. Made all the more unique by its pirate theme set in a small fishing village, the Marathon Race Weekend helped put the small community of Eastern Passage, N.S., on the map, promoting tourism and raising the profile of local businesses. The event also donated $120,000 back to local community groups.
Organizers brought East Coast hospitality to thousands of runners from around the world by creating an inclusive event that was fun for everyone.
“It’s the end of an era, but will never be forgotten by those who were fortunate enough to be a part of it,” says Kempton.