Experienced runners and newbies alike all say the same thing: Band on the Run is fun.
The annual road race is in its eighth year and while there’s always a contingent of people trying it out for the first time, many of the participants have put their runners to the pavement in previous years.
Why do they keep coming back? For some it’s the challenge—beating a previous time or trying out a different distance. For others, it’s the enthusiastic volunteers and the bands stationed along the route that help keep them motivated and smiling from start to finish.
Cheryl Durand, who lived in Huntsville for 15 years but now calls Guelph home, is one of the participants who has been there from the beginning.
“I had been working to re-establish a running and work out routine and was looking for a race to enter to help me stay motivated,” she says. “During my search, I heard that there was going to be a new race in Huntsville that had a half marathon distance. That sealed the deal for me. What better place to run my first half marathon than back in my hometown of Huntsville?”
Band on the Run wasn’t her first road race, but it has become a favourite. “It has always had such a great community atmosphere to it that it draws me back each year,” says Durand. “The volunteers and community members cheering along the way, the organization of the event, the music during and after the race all contribute to what makes BOTR a unique race. Right from that first year it has always been a well run event and they have maintained that every year. I know the race directors and volunteers all work very hard to organize the whole event and they have always done such a great job.”
Durand says she loves the challenge of the course and the overall atmosphere and vibe of the event. For the first four years she ran the half marathon, and ran the 5k for the last three. Although she has enjoyed the 5k—”I like that it has less hills so there isn’t quite the same amount of suffering afterwards,” she says—Durand is looking forward to trying out the 10k for the first time. She signed up at the encouragement of her nephew who wanted to try that distance too.
In various years, her partner, sisters and nephews have joined her at Band on the Run. “My sisters haven’t always shared my love for running, but after I ran the half marathon that first year everyone was keen to enter the next year,” she says. “So the second year of the race my three sisters and two of my nephews that were old enough at the time entered. None of them had entered a road race before. It was new territory for them and it was pretty inspiring to see each one set a goal and give it their all to rise to the challenge.
“I love that my nephews have taken an interest in running and keep striving to improve. They just keep getting faster and more determined to keep up. Last year two of them kept up with me and finished ahead of me. Nothing like a little family competition to motivate me to train a little harder this year.”
The music is motivating, too. “It is fun to hit the different points along the way and hear some of the local talent. As far as the music [festival]afterwards, that has been a great part of the event. In other road races everyone goes, runs and basically heads home shortly after they refuel and the medals are presented. It is fun to have not just the runners come back together, but other members of the community to just have fun and enjoy some music together. It is a big part of what creates that community aspect that draws me back.”
This year, Band on the Run has partnered with Huntsville Festival of the Arts, who will present the post-race music festival.
Durand tells people about the race every chance she gets, and suggests they put in their race schedule. “It is an extremely challenging course that is sure to challenge any runner, no matter which distance you choose. Plus, after conquering the course there is a great family event that you can just relax and have some fun with friends and family.”
There is still time to register for Band on the Run. Proceeds from the event support Community Living Huntsville. Learn more at bandontherun.ca.
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