AMHERST - The inaugural Cross Border Challenge in 2009 attracted 181 runners, 48 of which were local runners. This year run will be much different.
"The last I looked there are 180 people from the local area who are registered," said, Paul Giroux, Cross Border Challenge coordinator. "About 60 per cent of the runners are from Cumberland County and, if I include Sackville, we're close to two thirds who are within a 20-mile radius from Amherst."
A maximum of 400 runners can take part in the Cross Border Challenge and, as of yesterday, there were 282 people registered for Saturday's 10-kilometre walk and run, which begins at 9 a.m. in in Aulac, N.B., and then flow's across the Tantramar Marsh to Amherst Stadium.
"Last year we had 203 register in the last week," said Giroux. "That's typical of the last week because people are waiting to see what the weather will be like before they decide to register or, if they ran the Johnny Miles (run in New Glasgow last weekend), they might want to figure out if they feel good enough to run the next weekend."
Giroux said it's good to see local runners take up the local challenge.
"The number of local runners has grown considerably," he said. "We started a running club, the Amherst Striders, and the (Cumberland) YMCA has its own running program."
He also said people like the way the Cross Border Challenge is set up.
It's one of only two point-to-point runs in the Maritimes, with the other being on PEI.
A point to point run has starts and finishes in different places, while all other runs in the Maritimes are either circuit runs or out and back runs, where runs start and finish in the same place.
Giroux said that the Boston and New York Marathons are point-to-point runs, and that it's rare to have a 10-kilometre run that is point-to-point.
Two more drawing points of the Cross Border Challenge is that the course is closed to traffic and the runners are bussed to the starting point, making the course very safe and allowing runners to mingle with other runners on the drive from Amherst Stadium to Aulac.
"Many runners have told me they like the bus ride," said Giroux.
One disadvantage of a point-to-point run is that the number of available busses dictates the number of runners.
"Cumberland Transit has only four buses available to them and that means we can transport 400 people to the start line," said Giroux. "If I could get more buses I would definitely expand it."
The four busses do two runs each, carrying about 50 runners per trip.
Giroux would like to add a half marathon to the Cross Border Challenge and said it would automatically add 300 runners to the running roster.
He has a course picked out already that he said, "runners would love." All he needs is more busses.
"Unless we come up with more buses we can't expand the numbers," he added.
Registration is $50 and registration closes Thursday at midnight.
To register go to https://registration.atlanticchip.ca/s1ft-teams.php, or register at the Cumberland YMCA.
NOTES: iRun Magazine chose the Cross Border Challenge as one of "16 unique races in Canada.
The magazine said, "Rarely does a runner have the opportunity to cross two provinces off their cross-Canada checklist by running one race. The 10K Cross-Border Challenge start line is in Aulac, NB, and the finish line is in Amherst, NS, the geographic centre of the Maritimes. The route takes runners across the world famous Tantramar Marsh, the place where land and tide meet in a national wildlife area joining Nova Scotia to New Brunswick and mainland Canada."