A group of avid runners, running clubs and associations have banded together to create the Okanagan Running Collective in hopes of bringing an annual marathon back to Kelowna next year.
The Interior Running Association, Centre Culturel Francophone de l'Okanagan, Kelowna Running Club, Kelowna Triathlon Club, November Project, Okanagan Parkrun, and others have joined forces to revive the marathon that was previously shutdown by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I found out there was no [marathon in Kelowna] and that there hadn’t been one for a while because of COVID, so we were kind of expecting that maybe it would come back, but after doing our research we found out the previous organizer no longer had interest in doing it and we were disappointed," said Benjamin Violot.
"So we figured if they’re not going to do it, I’m sure there’s enough people around here that would be happy to get involved, so we started looking around and meeting up with other running clubs.”
Violot tells Castanet the Okanagan Running Collective's proposal has been presented at Kelowna City Hall and that it is currently under review. After a positive meeting, he says the Okanagan Running Collective has high hopes for the project to be green lit by council.
“They didn’t expect us to make a proposal, so now that we’ve presented it they are reviewing it, and we hope to get some positive feedback within the coming weeks so that we can host a 2024 marathon. I think we make a pretty strong case… We’re pretty confident that we should be able to secure this project," said Violot.
If things go according to plan, the marathon could be back in Kelowna by next fall, and the Okanagan Running Collective believes they are capable of putting on a world-class event that could potentially become a stepping stone for professional runners.
“This could one day be a place where Canadians come to set their national records because we’ve managed to create a whole bunch of different [marathon] courses. They’re all very, very flat right here in the valley. And so this could be a good place to come and qualify for some races like the Boston Marathon or the Olympics.”
The Okanagan Running Collective invites individuals, businesses, and organizations to get involved in various capacities, including volunteering and sponsorship opportunities. You can get in touch with them here.