The Valley Harvest Marathon was held in Wolfville, N.S., over the weekend, becoming one of Canada’s only in-person races on the fall calendar for 2020. This was the 27th edition of the race, and while capacity is normally 3,000 runners and this year’s event only saw a little more than 600, the mass participation event provided what has become an exciting and rare opportunity for runners in 2020. The Halifax Road Hammers were well represented in Wolfville, with 70 of the club’s athletes racing across multiple distances. Athletes could choose from a 5K, 10K, half-marathon or full marathon, and the four races were spread out over three days to make the event as COVID-friendly as possible.
Road Hammers coach Lee McCarron says the Valley Harvest Marathon is “a staple run in Nova Scotia,” and his team was eager to get their first taste of official competition in months. “Everyone was so ready for the challenge and for the opportunity to race,” he says. “The energy there was so awesome.”
McCarron says his runners laid down great performances, many of which “exceeded everyone’s expectations. They just didn’t want to waste the opportunity to run a good race.” This year has had many disappointments, and whenever a race looked like it might be able to run as planned, it was promptly canceled due to COVID-19. In August, the Nova Scotia provincial government gave Valley Harvest race organizers the go-ahead to hold their race, and with restrictions in place (such as mandatory masks at the start and finish and a cap of 250 runners per race), the event was set for Thanksgiving. Despite this, McCarron notes that an event confirmation two months out from the actual race date is a feeble promise. Knowing this, his runners didn’t get their hopes up.
“We knew that, had Friday night’s 5K not gone well, they very easily could have cancelled the runs on Saturday or Sunday,” he says. “People just wanted a goal to work toward, though, whether the race was virtual or in person. If it was in person, that was just a bonus.” In every race but the 5K, the Road Hammers posted podium results in the men’s and women’s categories, including three first-place finishes.
For full results from the Valley Harvest Marathon, click here.