Valley Harvest Marathon participants push through storm’s wake

Runners had a wet start at an annual event in Wolfville, N.S., on Sunday. 

The 2023 Valley Harvest Marathon went ahead despite the remnants of post-tropical storm Philippe rolling through the region.

“We drove up to the event and there was crazy traffic and pouring rain,” said Nicole MacLean, who ran the half-marathon.

MacLean, 27, said she never thought about taking a pass on the event as the storm made its way toward Nova Scotia.

Hundreds of volunteers offered part of their Thanksgiving weekend to help out. (Stoo Metz Photography)

There was a nervous energy at the starting line, she said, but everyone there was happy the event was still happening. 

MacLean was embarking on her first half-marathon. She joked the rain actually felt nice during the run.

She said there were some tough spots, but she actually preferred the conditions to high temperatures. 

“There was some wind when you came around the corners that were kind of slapped in the face a little bit,” MacLeod said.”

A younger races their hands as they approach the finish line.
Runners competed in events including the marathon, half-marathon and 10K. (Stoo Metz Photography)

The rain and wind didn’t scare off participants as more than 2,000 runners participated in events such as the marathon, half-marathon and 10-kilometre race.

The weather did affect the course set up and caused a busy morning for volunteers, an organizer says. 

“We had some challenges,” said Sherri Robbins, event executive director.  

The event typically sees about 10 per cent of those who register not attend. Robbins said she doesn’t expect that to be much different this year.

She said runners didn’t appear to be too distressed by the conditions after they completed the race.

“Tons of smiles as they were coming through the finish line,” Robbins said.

The runners weren’t the only people who showed up in the rain. Hundreds of people volunteered part of their Thanksgiving weekend to make sure the event ran smoothly, she said.

“Without them and our sponsors, we wouldn’t be where we are and we wouldn’t have been able to host the event,” she said.

Kevin Leblanc of Brookside, N.S., was the top finisher in the marathon in a time of two hours, 50 minutes and 36 seconds. Kelly van Niekerk of Wolfville ran 3:20:22 to be the first woman across the finish line.

The event is a qualifier for the 2024 Boston Marathon. 

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