Run for Water shatters records
The fourth annual Abbotsford Run for Water shattered records in terms of both attendance and fundraising.
Sunday's event drew 3,500 runners, about 1,100 more than last year. Additionally, the Run for Water raised $203,000 for clean water projects in Ethiopia, up from $150,000 in 2010.
"It's staggering, it really is," marveled Ken Baerg, the Run for Water board chair and race director. "It was far beyond our expectations, to be honest. The growth and momentum is fantastic.
"We had 650 people in '08, and we thought we'd done everything we could have done. We were very happy and satisfied with that attendance level. But we wanted to push and see what we could do in terms of attracting a broader regional presence."
The full marathon distance, added this year, played a key role in boosting attendance, as it served as a qualifying race for the Boston Marathan. The event also included 5k, 10k, and half-marathon distances.
"As a Boston qualifier, it puts you on the map in terms of top-tier runs," Baerg noted. "We had a good number of people from outside the community that were attracted by that element of the event.
"There were some very excited people cruising across the line who came up to me after and said, 'I made my qualifying time!'"
Ryan Prachnau of Abbotsford won the men's marathon, completing the course in a time of 2:48:41. Suzanne Evans of New Westminster was the top women's finisher, clocking in at 2:57:14.
Half-marathon winners were Jeremiah Johnston of Mission (1:10:13) and Stacie Carrigan of West Kelowna (1:32:52), while Jason Henrikson of Abbotsford (37:56) and Allison Ezzat of North Vancouver (42:09) were tops in the 10k. Abbotsford runners Felix Gerbrand Fehr (22:20) and Julia Gerbrandt (23:05) were the 5k winners.
In terms of fundraising, Baerg said the participation of local schools has been a key factor. The Run for Water organization developed a school curriculum focused on the importance of clean water, and 14 schools participated in the program this year. Those schools raised $38,000 for the Run for Water's designated charity, Hope International Development Agency.
"That is something our community should be extremely proud of," Baerg said.
South Poplar Elementary was the recipient of the Mayor's Award, which goes to the school with the highest fundraising total combined with the highest percentage participation in the run. With a student body of about 300, South Poplar raised $8,200.