Runners lacing up for Manitoba Marathon in scorching heat advised to take it slow

With temperatures expected to climb into the mid-30s on Sunday, seasoned runners say this year’s Manitoba Marathon will not be the day to attempt a personal best.

Sunday’s race will mark the event’s return to a full in-person June event. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Manitoba Marathon went virtual in 2020, and held a scaled-back hybrid event in September of 2021.

Environment Canada is now forecasting a high of 37 C for Winnipeg on Sunday, prompting Manitoba Health to issue a heat advisory

Although the race starts at 7 a.m. — well before the full heat of the day — the weather agency says the overnight low Saturday night into Sunday morning will still be 22 C.

But Manitoba Marathon executive director Rachel Munday says it’s nothing the event’s organizers haven’t dealt with before. 

The marathon will have plenty of water stations along the course, equipped with ice and ways to help runners replenish electrolytes. They’ll also have water-soaked sponges available for runners to grab to cool off with. 

“And then, of course, at the finish line, we’ve got lots of ice, we’ve got lots of Popsicles, we’ve got some cooling tents and that kind of thing,” she told Information Radio guest host Sam Samson on Friday.

“We’re pretty confident that we’ll be able to keep people safe and give them an experience that they’ve been waiting for for three years.”

Munday said organizers will also monitor the heat and humidity levels on the course, and may close it early if it becomes unsafe. 

If that happens, volunteers in a course closing vehicle will come pick up runners who haven’t reached the finish line and transport them there, she said. 

Advice for runners

Munday advises slower runners, or those who were planning to attempt a full 42-kilometre marathon for the first time, to consider running a shorter distance. 

“This might not be the year for that. You could consider moving down to the half-marathon or, you know, maybe a slightly shorter distance to ensure that you are off the course before the heat of the day comes,” she said. 

Selene Sharpe was the first woman to finish the full marathon Sunday during the Manitoba Marathon race event in 2019. With high temperatures in the forecast, seasoned runners say people should pace themselves this year. (Sarah Petz/CBC )

She also says people shouldn’t push themselves too hard in the heat, as it could be dangerous. 

“Just be smart. It’s not the day for a personal best. If it’s that hot, it’s just best to start slow and steady,” she said. “If you get closer to the end and you’re feeling good, you can pick up the pace.”

Caroline Wiebe is no stranger to running in hot in conditions.

An experienced runner, she ran 250 kilometers across the Sahara Desert in Morocco earlier this year. 

Wiebe advises runners to start hydrating well ahead of Sunday morning, and to keep hydrated throughout the race. 

“Don’t start drinking water when you’re becoming very thirsty. You wanna start drinking from the beginning,” she said. 

LISTEN | Experienced runner gives advice on moving in the heat: 

Up To Speed8:51How to run a marathon in extreme heat

The Manitoba Marathon is set to take place this Sunday, but with temperatures set to reach the mid thirties hydration and safety are going to be more important than ever. Experienced marathoner and nurse Caroline Wiebe talks with guest host Marjorie Dowhos about how to stay safe and finish the race!

There’s also no shame in slowing down or taking walk breaks, she said. 

“I always say, it’s better to get to the finish line [later] than to not get there at all.”

The Manitoba Marathon starts off outside IG Field at the University of Manitoba at 7 a.m. Sunday.

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