The final numbers for Abbotsford’s sixth annual Run for Water were simply staggering.
Sunday’s event, which featured 5K, 10K, half-marathon and full marathon distances, drew a total of 4,830 runners – shattering last year’s record of 4,294.
More importantly, participants joined forces to raise $358,000 to create access to clean drinking water for people in Ethiopia, via the Canadian non-profit agency HOPE International.
That pushed the event’s cumulative total past the $1 million mark over the past six years.
“It’s an unbelievable amount,” marvelled Ken Baerg, chair of the Run for Water organizing committee. “We never, ever dreamed that it would grow to this size, and we didn’t fathom the generosity that is clearly part of the Abbotsford community and beyond.
“It’s just been so encouraging to see people rally around an event like this. They do it because they want to be part of something that’s bigger than themselves, and I think that’s such an admirable thing. We’re ecstatic at the end result.”
The event was accompanied by a steady drizzle, but didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of participants.
“I had the opportunity to run the 5K for the first time with my daughter, and there was boundless enthusiasm on the course,” Baerg observed.
Run for Water marathon champions included David Palermo of Vancouver (2:35:08) on the men’s side and Yu Tsuchida of Greensboro, N.C. (3:02:17) on the women’s side.
In the half-marathon, Abbotsford’s David Jackson completed the course in 1:10:49, while Jennifer Moroz of Vancouver (1:22:11) was the top female.
Yue-Ching Cheng of Port Coquitlam (35:33) and Anita Campbell of Abbotsford (37:55) won the men’s and women’s 10K races, respectively, while the 5K champs were Jeremy Vanwoerden (17:03) and Olivia Moody (20:40), both of Abbotsford.
Five of the winners – Palermo, Moroz, Campbell, Vanwoerden and Moody – established new course records.
The Run for Water also featured an “ultra marathon” for the second straight year which saw 17 runners complete a 56-kilometre course on Saturday.
This year’s Run for Water maxed out its 2,800-runner capacity in the 5K, and nearly sold out all 1,200 available spots in the 10K. Baerg said the organizing committee will look at what can be done to expand capacity for 2014.
“We have to contemplate the challenge of growth and see what we do for next year,” he said. “It’s a great problem to have.”
Full race results are posted at the Run for Water website.