The BMO Okanagan Marathon continues to support The Sunshine Foundation of Canada, helping make dreams come true for children living with severe physical disabilities or life-threatening illnesses.
Over the years, the event has raised more than $299,000 for the charity who has fulfilled dreams for 7,000 kids across Canada in its 27-year history
An estimated 3,000 participants will take part in the 2014 event, all staged from City Park, with an estimated 74 per cent coming from out of town, including 34 per cent coming from Alberta.
Among the event highlights to keep in mind:
• 2012 Men’s Half Marathon winner Jeff Symonds is back. The Penticton native recently placed 2nd at Ironman Canada behind the world record holder. He hopes to be ready to go Sunday, “My goal is the win the Half and defend the title I won two years ago.” Symonds last won the Half in a time of 1:13:56 and hopes he can be faster and race a 1:13 time in the 21.1km event. The marathon takes off on Sunday, 7:30 a.m., followed by the Half at 8 a.m. and the 10K race starting at 8:30 a.m..
• Former, long-time Kelowna resident Keith Parks will run his 100th marathon on Sunday, as a pace rabbit. As a marathon runner for more than 16 years, Parks has been saving his 100th marathon for his hometown race. Parks says he’s thrilled to have friends and family join him at his favourite finish line at City Park to mark the occasion.
• Thirteen-year-old Joshua, who lives with cerebellar hypoplasia and cerebral palsy, and his mother Michelle Gentis will make up the dynamic duo of “Team Joshua.” Together, they will participate in the BMO Okanagan Half Marathon, with Michelle running behind and pushing Joshua’s racing wheelchair.
• The BMO ABC Kids’ Run has been designed for kids of all ages, to assist with the skills of running, jumping and throwing that spans all abilities, it is a gender equitable program and is adaptive to special needs and children with disabilities. ABC stands for Active, Body Centre. Start time is Saturday at noon followed by the BMO ABC Kids’ Fun 1km Run at 12:45 p.m.
• The DDT Drumline group, who has performed at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, as well as being asked to take part in the upcoming Grey Cup Festival in November, will warm up the crowds in honour of the 20th anniversary of the event. Drumline provides entertainment for all age groups and will play on Saturday from 9:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.