BMO Vancouver Marathon returns with new races and familiar faces for 2015

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      An estimated 15,000 runners are set to make their way to Queen Elizabeth Park this Sunday to participate in the 2015 BMO Vancouver Marathon.

      The event will see the return of many familiar faces, including elite international and Canadian runners participating in the full marathon and half-marathon events.

      Among the returning racers are Berhanu Mekonnen from Ethiopia, who won last year’s men marathon, and Kenyan runner Paul Kimugul, who won the half-marathon in 2014 and holds the event record in that discipline.

      In the women’s categories, North Vancouver-based runner and 2012 marathon winner Ellie Greenwood, and last year’s half-marathon runner-up, Allison Macsas from the US, will participate in the marathon and half-marathon categories respectively.

      Along with the strong presence of elite runners, this year’s marathon will also include the team relay marathon, a new event that allows teams of up to four runners collectively complete the 42.2 km course.

      “Every year we try to improve the experience and keep it fresh for runners, volunteers, and spectators,” said Charlene Krepiakevich, executive director of the Vancouver Marathon International Society, which organizes the event.

      To keep things fresh, this year’s marathon hopes to promote greater community engagement. Krepiakevich cited events such as the health, sports, and lifestyle expo currently underway at the Vancouver Convention Centre West and Saturday's kids run as examples of how the marathon is expanding its community influence.

      “This is more than just a marathon running race,” Krepiakevich said, adding that marathon-related events take place throughout the weekend.

      In addition to the expo, the Vancouver Marathon International Society has partnered with oil giant Chevron to give out an award of up to $7,000 to the neighborhood that shows the most enthusiastic support for racers on Sunday.

      “We want to thank them for their cheering, their signs, and their waves of encouragement,” Krepiakevich said.

      Sunday’s races will force rolling road closures across the city. For more information on road closures, visit www.bmovanmarathon.ca/community/road-closures.

      Peter Mothe is a practicum student at the Georgia Straight and a graduate student at UBC's school of journalism. You can follow him on Twitter.

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