The Montréal Marathon was begun by a runner and a cyclist and between 1979 and 1990, it became a symbol of pride for Montreal. Started by athletes for athletes—the marathon was the only distance offered—it was a beacon of racing and competition and a sign of the health of marathon running in this country. For a young kid watching his father put on the event, it was mind blowing: there was nothing in the world better than witnessing his father’s dream.
“For my dad to tell everyone he was going to put 12,000 people on the bridge in its first year and actually deliver, it never felt like a race to me, but always felt like a massive event,” says Sébastien Arsenault, president and CEO, taking over the event’s reigns in 2019, just in time for the pandemic. Recalling his childhood and race preparation, Sebastien makes it clear how much the Montréal Marathon always meant to his family. “I remember as a kid helping in the living room with the medals and when you’re small, everything’s bigger, but seeing all the Africans competing and the whole world opening up and the spectators cheering, I couldn’t get over the energy,” Arsenault says. “40 years later, all I want to do is create something that’s just as special for a new generation of runners and spectators in Montreal. I know what it’s like to live out a dream.”
Montréal as a Canadian destination really needs no explanation as a bucket list city to tour between the food and the culture, the art and the people. Arsenault, influenced by races in Paris, Munich and Barcelona, says he’s excited this year to finally invite participants across Canada to his city. He says he’s waited three years for the gun to go off at his starting line on September 25. There’s a marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K, 1K and event combinations ready for runners and Arsenault says he’s not trying to create the event from his youth—not entirely—but rejig the sport for the new runner around the world.
“We’re into the organization of sporting events not for profit, but for passion, passion, passion, and I know it’s a feeling I share with the other race organizers across the country,” said Arsenault, who also hosts the Grands Prix Cyclistes de Québec et de Montréal on September ninth and eleventh. “A top notch sporting event says a lot about a city, and I feel like for me it’s a big, important opportunity to represent the very best to the world of Montreal.”
Certainly, the very best of his city will be on display during the Marathon Beneva de Montréal and between their Run With Heart Charity Program, events for kids, and competitive elite racing circuit, the event has something for everyone against the backdrop of one of the coolest cities in the world. Sebastien Arsenault says he’s committed to making his event world-class over the long term. In a sense, he’s spent his whole life getting ready for his event this fall.
“I wanted to create something stimulating for the eyes where runners push themselves across a beautiful course and discover the great city of Montreal,” Arsenault said. “It’s like a big family gathering and there’s nothing I love more than seeing all of these people having fun, putting on their running shoes and doing something we love. For me, putting on these races must be in my genes.”
The Marathon Beneva de Montréal begins September 24 and will be covered at length by iRun. For more information, please see mtlmarathon.com.