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WFPS Half Marathon is bigger than ever

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Jonathan Torchia, 26, is the race director of the second annual Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services Half Marathon. The race itself is sold out, with 2,200 runners registered, but organizers are looking for more volunteers.

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Jonathan Torchia, 26, is the race director of the second annual Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services Half Marathon. The race itself is sold out, with 2,200 runners registered, but organizers are looking for more volunteers. Photo Store

An upcoming fundraising run in Tuxedo is asking the community to come out and offer a helping hand.

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service’s (WFPS) half marathon, 10-kilometre, and 5-kilometre runs are all sold out, but they are still looking for volunteers for the Oct. 19 event, which raises money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

"This is the second annual event, this year we have 2,200 registered runners," said organizer Jonathan Torchia, 26. "Last year being the first annual we only had 1,550... So we’re really excited by that — huge increase."

Torchia is a Winnipeg Emergency Medical Services paramedic and marathon runner from Charleswood. However, he won’t be running in his own race because things will be too hectic.

"Every single day from here until race day is ‘I have to do this, and I have to do this,’" said Torchia. "Somewhere in there I’m a paramedic and the rest of the time I’m organizing furiously."

Hosted at the Canadian Mennonite University in Tuxedo, the run raised $25,000 for the foundation last year. This year Torchia said they are on track to raise $40,000.

The race sold out twice this summer. Torchia said when registration opened April 2 the initial cap of 1,550 runners sold out quickly, so they expanded it again, and once again it sold out.

"It’s unbelievable the popularity of the event," said Torchia. "We’re now the third biggest running event (in Winnipeg) and it’s only our second year, we’re really happy about that."

This year, the race includes having the runners do some fundraising.

"This year we gave the runners the option of fundraising for the event and then the top fundraisers get some prizes," said Torchia.

Prizes include a trip for two wherever WestJet flies, a new iPad 3 and $200 Running Room gift card, and a Garmin Forerunner GPS watch.

Fundraising for the Heart and Stroke Foundation was really important to Torchia. His grandfather passed away a few years ago after suffering a stroke.

"For me it really hits home on both fronts," said Torchia. "I’m a big runner and then also a big advocate of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. So I’m fully invested in this event."

Torchia never realized how much went into organizing an event like this and said it would be hopeless without the help from volunteers.

"We really are looking for volunteers," said Torchia. "We’ve almost got the numbers that we want, but for the event to run smoothly we really require 400 to 450 volunteers total. We’re close to those numbers, we just need a few more."

Torchia said being a runner who competes often, he really wanted the event to be runner-friendly.

"A runner-friendly event is giving back to the runners, giving them value for their registration. Some events you pay the fee and you won’t even get a shirt or not all the runners will get a medal. At our event you get both," he said.

For more information on the event, visit wfpshalfmarathon.com

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