This Sunday, location, motivation and inspiration will again forge Raglan Road’s unique contribution to the Manitoba Marathon.
Just beyond the halfway point of the 26.2-mile route, within reach of the third exchange zone for relay teams, Raglan Road is the runners’ entrance into green, cool comfort after a bleak, exposed 1.5 miles down Portage Avenue.
On marathon day, Raglan Road boasts the first toilets, replacement fluids and medical station since Mile 12 (near the Assiniboine Park footbridge). It’s the start of the "graceful, tree-shaded streets" that continue to Mile 15.5 (Manitoba Marathon website).
Six-time marathoner Lisa Kresky-Griffin describes the turn from Portage onto Raglan as "a big beautiful blanket of shade." Lisa, who lives in the Minneapolis area, grew up on Raglan Road and has twice raced past her old house.
Raglan arrives at a reflective juncture on the route. The marathoner considers the second half of the race. Relay runners anticipate the end of their segments, hoping for a tidy pass and best-possible split-time.
On marathon day, Raglan Road sustains a critical mass of clapping, cheering spectators. Residents breakfast on the boulevard. Joining them are other supporters who have already viewed their favourite athletes on Wellington Crescent before leisurely crossing the Wellington/Omand’s Creek pedestrian bridge to watch them again.
With such support, is it surprising a runner once mistook a cinnamon bun on Anne Marie Klassen’s boulevard table as official race food, and snatched it?
Anne Marie and her daughters were on the other side of the table, watching out for husband/father Henry Klassen, another Raglan Road resident and six-time marathoner.
Henry was the 2002 Manitoba Marathon runner-up (2:37:01) and 2001 half-marathon winner (1:11:53). Previously a member of various national track teams and currently a recreational, non-competitive runner, he has trained others for running events.
This Sunday, Kresky-Griffin will race the half-marathon. She ran the 2014 Boston Marathon in April after qualifying with her 2013 Manitoba Marathon time (3:36:55).
For Lisa, participating in this year’s Boston Marathon was an act of honouring the people of Boston, and of healing herself. She had just completed her first Boston Marathon in 2013 — was still in the finishers’ chute — when the two bombs exploded nearby.
The joy she was robbed of that day began to be restored with a good long run last Father’s Day, past her old house on Raglan Road.
Gail Perry is a community correspondent for Wolseley.