September 3, 2015


Heat warning in effect

Amateur

13,000 are ready to run

Even a Kenyan has come to do the 26.2 miles on Father's Day

It's that time of year again.

The 34th annual Manitoba Marathon -- the province's largest participatory even -- is set for Father's Day Sunday and an estimated 13,000 athletes have already signed up to be part of this year's run.

Thomas Omwenga, from Kenya, is entered in the full marathon. He's averaged two a year since '03 and is expected to be in the running for top spot Sunday.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Thomas Omwenga, from Kenya, is entered in the full marathon. He's averaged two a year since '03 and is expected to be in the running for top spot Sunday. Photo Store

Len Rolfson

Len Rolfson

One of them is 33-year-old Thomas Omwenga, who travelled all the way from Kenya to participate in Sunday's full marathon.

"I hear Manitoba is very hard with the humidity, so I pray the weather will be nice," said Omwenga, one of the few athletes who attended a press conference Friday to showcase the event.

Having run an average of two marathons a year since 2003 and winning close to 10 in that time, Omwenga is one the few runners expected to contend for top spot in Sunday's biggest race.

"When they accepted (him into the race), I felt very great," he said. "I'm planning to do my best, that's my expectations."

Then there's Len Rolfson, 64, who has participated in the full marathon every year since the Manitoba Marathon started in 1979, making him the only athlete to complete all 33 races.

"It's part of a lifestyle thing for me now. I can't see it stopping," said Rolfson, who'll have his wife and two sons cheering him on in his Sunday run.

Asked how many more marathons he had in him, Rolfson smiled. "I don't know -- 10-15 maybe. As long as I'm injury-free, I'll keep going.

"When you get this many people taking part in a sporting event of this type, or any event that's huge for the city and the province, there's just a level of excitement that builds as we approach Father's Day every year now, and it's just tremendous."

Running a 26.2-mile race isn't the only tradition for Rolfson on his special day.

"We go back to our house on the deck after the race and BBQ burgers, hotdogs, have a few beers and just relax and enjoy the day."

For Manitoba Marathon executive director Shirley Lumb, there's something particularly special about the weekend.

"The big thing for me is the very last runner," she said. "They've worked so, so hard to get to the finish line and there they are, they've accomplished it. It's just an emotional moment."

And one other thing:

"Of course, our Popsicles at the end, that's the best thing," Lumb said.

For more information, visit the event's website at www.manitobamarathon.mb.ca

jeff.hamilton@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 16, 2012 C2

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