The marathon was conceived a number of years back by a group of local community and tourism leaders eager to fill a void in both the local fall sports scene and the traditionally slow fall tourism season. The creation of a high quality, well executed event that would grow annually was the vision established. Marathons are big sport tourism business. Duluth's Grandma's Marathon, an iconic race operating every June for decades, draws some twenty six thousand runners, filling hotel rooms, restaurants and attractions during race weekend. For Thunder Bay, with its bold dedication towards developing an active transportation strategy, dedicated trails and the overall promotion of health and fitness, this is a nice fit.
Based on feedback from the past event's runners and experiences gained through the logistics side of the event over the first two years, the route has been changed from two 13.1 mile loops to a single 26.2 mile route that will take in more of the community to include Confederation Collage and Lakehead University campus. The event will still start and finish at Prince Arthur's Landing and include the Boulevard Lake loop but it will offer some new territory and expand the appeal to runners. This will also be the year that the organizers work to have the race certified by Athletics Canada to become a Boston Marathon qualifier, an important certification to attract more running visitors from outside the community.
The second welcome development this week is the announcement by the Ministry of Tourism that the event will be receiving $40 000 from the Celebrate Ontario program to expand their operational capacity and build a much larger sustainable event. Tourism Thunder Bay has supported this great event since it was conceived with marketing support and we'll continue to help promote it through our media channels this year as well as co sponsor some of the costs associated with promoting the event at other Marathons in key close haul markets.
Of course a big thanks has to go out to the volunteer board of directors who give passionately to building this into an iconic annual event, the local Hotelier's coalition for their support and recognition of sport tourism development and our co workers at the City of Thunder Bay including events, police, engineering and our own sport tourism folks who have helped make the reality of a 26.2 mile course using a multitude of city streets possible. Nothing compliments our tourism vision to become regarded as Canada's Best outdoor city like a marathon that features the big Lake and the Sleeping Giant as a backdrop and winds through the city's parks, lakes, classic neighbourhoods and historic downtown core.
Registration is now open and the new route is posted on the marathon website. You can check it all out at thunderbaymarathon.com