AMHERST – Paul Giroux envisions Amherst becoming a centre of racing.
From one race several years ago, the Cross Border Challenge is expanding to include more events in 2013 and additional events in coming years.
“We’re expanding the number of events we’re holding,” race director Paul Giroux said. “We’re adding four more events this year. We’ll have two 5K events in the spring, a 5K race in Pugwash to coincide with HarbourFest and a 10K event to go along with what we hope will be the new blueberry festival in August.”
That will go along with June’s Cross Border Challenge, the Tim Horton’s Four Fathers event in September and the second Pumpkin Run in late October.
“We will have one running event every month from April til October,” Giroux said. “We’re going from three running events in 2012 to 11 in 2013. That’s a big expansion and a big change.”
Giroux said the Cross Border Challenge will include a 5K on Friday, June 21 and a 10K and half marathon on Saturday, June 22. The Four Fathers will include a 5 and 10K run as well as a half marathon on Sept. 21.
“One of the best ways to attract more runners to a particular event is to offer a variety of distances. If you’re a 10K runner and your partner only runs 5K, or someone runs a half marathon, a greater selection of distances is important because you’ll attract more runners,” Giroux said.
Giroux said organizers are hoping to add a full marathon to the Four Fathers event in 2015.
In 2009, 180 runners participated in the first race that was held to coincide with the Four Fathers Festival. Last year, Giroux said there were 300 participants. The increased number of races also reflects how many local runners there are.
“The first year we had about 20 runners from Cumberland County. This past year, there were 200. The first year I started there were no running clubs here, now there are two. The YMCA has a running club and the Amherst Striders have more than 100 in their club. Running has grown here considerably, not only the number of runners but also their dedication and the distance they’re doing,” he said. “The first year we sent runners to the Legs for Literacy event in Moncton there were only four runners. Last year there were over 80. So, not only are there more runners but they’re running in more events.”
Giroux said increasing the number of events should make the town a racing centre since it’s within two hours of all major running events in the Maritimes.
He also said more races should mean more economic impact for Amherst. Every runner, he said, spends about $100 in town including hotels, gas and food.
Other changes for this year include having the Running Room handle registration because it allows for online fundraising.
Also, along with the YMCA, races will help other local charities including the Cumberland YMCA, the Cumberland Health Care Foundation and the hospital for sick children supported by the Cumberland Shriners. Those organizations are all expected to provide volunteers for the events as well.
The Cross Border Challenge will also be offering its own point series with top runners honoured at the end of the season. The challenge will also remain part of the Run Nova Scotia point and Timex series.