The recent announcement of the end of the ArriveCan app and vaccination restrictions to enter the country may help the Niagara Falls International Marathon recruit more participants. Diane Chesla, co-race director of the esteemed Canadian race, says it’s not that Americans who might now enter her race aren’t vaccinated, it’s that they didn’t want to participate in the additional bureaucratic dance.
“All of us in Niagara are sitting at 50% of our usual international and US audience, and I think removing deterrents for international and American runners only helps the success of our run,” says Chesla, hosting her first in-person event since 2019 on October 23. “Some visitors are protective of their privacy and some just don’t want to take that extra paperwork step, but taken together, I’m not alone in my thinking that increased tourism from around the world to Canada will be helpful to us all.”
The running event industry isn’t the only Canadian business that’s been taking repeated lumps since COVID-19. In addition to increased costs and reduced labour supply, there’s been a shortage of American and international visitors as a result of Canada’s stringent rules around the border. With these rules loosening on October 1, along with regulations around enforced masks on boats, trains and flights, the increased number of participants will provide dollars, says Chesla, that she can then put back in her non-profit race.
“I want to be innovative and we want to respond to what people want—we want change,” says Chesla, who mentions that this year, as her race runs totally through Canada, there are many new innovative tweaks, which only represent the tip of the iceberg of what’s to come. “We’re an accessible race alongside one of the world’s most majestic features and we owe it to our community—from all over—to put on an event for as many people as possible that is something that no one has ever seen.”