Community In Your Backyard: the Saskatchewan Marathon

    In Your Backyard: the Saskatchewan Marathon

    “We are a vast country in which the amplitude of our cultural influences alone continues to amaze and delight me. "- Race Director Nowshad Ali. Photo by Josh Schaefer/

    In our next issue, which will hit mailboxes and Running Room stores in February, we’re celebrating Canada’s rich running culture. We really didn’t see a need to stop the party as the sesquicentennial came and went. We’re also asking the question of how we can get Canadian runners running more in Canada, especially outside of their home province.

    In print and here online, race directors and community leaders have shared their thoughts and ideas on why Canadians should get out into their own backyard and what race directors can do to make it happen.

    Nowshad (Shad) Ali is the Co-Director of the Saskatchewan Marathon, which celebrates its 40th running in 2018.

    Ali says that the Saskatchewan Marathon, part of a full race weekend featuring a 5K, 10K, and half marathon, draws about 5% of its runners from other Canadian provinces and 1% from outside of Canada.

    “I believe Canadians are less likely to run in provinces other than their own and there are many contributors to this,” Ali says. “I believe Canadians often forget the diversity of our landscapes and terrain, our people and culture, and don’t view running in different provinces as an opportunity to experience this fully.”

    Rather than treating an excursion to another province as a destination race the way they might treat a World Major, Ali says Canadians may tend toward a “quick in and out” before heading back home.

    Ali feels that strides in race promotion have been and will continue to be made by invoking Canada’s natural beauty, which has long been a point of pride for Canadians. The Saskatchewan Marathon, Ali says, has been “inviting runners to not only enjoy our amazing run, which cascades along the Meewasin Valley and along the South Saskatchewan River, but to experience all our province and city has to offer.”

    Canadian tourism campaigns have long emphasized our country’s diverse landscapes and in Ali’s view, there’s no reason that races can’t piggyback off that messaging, making races part of that brilliant experience of our natural beauty.

    “We are a vast country in which the amplitude of our cultural influences alone continues to amaze and delight me. There’s so much richness and vibrancy to experience in each and every part of this great country that is unique, special and memorable,” Ali says. To not experience this, for Ali, is to “deprive oneself of the experience of a lifetime.”

    As for the role of race directors, Ali “would love to see races collaborating with series specials and contests, race packs, travel incentives, points programs, and the like.”

    The Saskatchewan Marathon is happening on May 27th in Saskatoon.