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This article was published 28/7/2020 (367 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
ORGANIZERS of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service half marathon are cancelling the annual event owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the second straight year the event had to be cancelled after last year’s races were nixed due to danger from damaged and fallen trees from an October snowstorm.
"Never in a million, trillion years would I have ever thought we’d have to cancel our event in back-to-back years," said Jonathan Torchia, founder and executive race director of the WFPS Run. "It’s super disappointing, but we stand strong behind our decision that it is the only decision to make and the right decision to make. That’s based on us following the guidelines put out by the government."
Torchia said he’s been following the updated health regulations about gathering sizes in Manitoba, and decided to open registration for the run in May.
"We had close to 2,000 runners register, in total," he said. "We had quite a few people even feeling optimistic about it and it was pretty good with the Phase 3 registration. I’ll be real honest, it’s a big blow."
Last year, Torchia said they weren’t able to give refunds because their permit was pulled 36 hours prior to the races. All the supplies and prizes were already paid for, but this year they set a deadline to make a decision on the event so they could offer runners a refund.
"We’re giving a refund option, or a deferral option," he said. "And then any money people did raise is still being donated to the Heart and Stroke Foundation and any extra money we do have left over, it will be donated as well to the foundation this year."
Torchia said they didn’t want to cancel the run completely this year and are putting on a virtual race. He added people can start registering for the virtual runs starting Aug. 10.
"It’s really low cost and it gives an opportunity for people to get out there and run a half-marathon, or a 10K or a 5K and still earn a medal and get a beautiful shirt as well," said Torchia. "We want to encourage people to get out there, build community, and get out for a run."
The virtual run will begin Oct. 1 and run until Oct. 31. Torchia said they wanted to put on the virtual run to keep momentum going heading into the 10th year in 2021.
"That’s going to be the running celebration of Manitoba like no one’s ever seen before," he said. "It’s two years of pent-up energy and we want to get this race off the ground for the runners. And it’s our 10th year, we want to make it very big and special and very large for the community."