Local runners encouraging activity with Christmas Marathon

By Steve Gow

A local running club is hoping to boost physical activity over the holidays with its annual Christmas Marathon.

Formed in 2016 by a group of five friends, BLT Runners has become a well-organized club with a mandate to help build a strong community of sprinters and joggers with a long-term outlook focused on meeting the needs of all.

This upcoming holiday season, those needs include working off all the extra sweets, snacks and large festive feasts.

“It seems to be something that people really enjoy,” says BLT Runners president Craig Durling of the annual Christmas Marathon. “People sometimes don’t do a whole lot over the Christmas break and maybe consume a lot more calories than they normally would so the challenge is kind of aimed at keeping people active.”

Participants of  the BLT Runners Christmas Marathon are instructed to run the equivalent of a full marathon over an eight day period beginning on December 24.

They are encouraged to post daily progress updates through social media, marking the day of the challenge, the distance they covered each day and keep track of the overall distance.

“A full marathon is 42.2 kilometres,” adds Durling. “It’s a decent amount of distance to do in a week. Some people who are newer to running, running 40 kilometres in a week might be a little more than they’d normally do but for others, it’s pretty standard.”

While BLT Runners don’t require people to register to take part in the marathon, Durling says they do hope runners that participate will post updates on social media using the hashtag #BLTRXmas42. 

He adds that the popularity of the program has grown so much that he has noticed many people outside the club using the hashtag and participating in the challenge.

“I wouldn’t say it’s gone viral,” notes Durling. “But definitely it has gone beyond the confines of our membership, that’s for sure.”

A casual running club for residents in the area of Beechville, Lakeside and Timberlea, BLT Runners attracts runners from all over the area with inclusive memberships, a popular weekly Monday night run and well-organized events.

“We were set up as a registered non-profit society so we have an elected board of directors and an AGM every year,” says Durling, adding that BLT Runners strives to be cohesive and functioning with a long-term outlook. “We looked around at what other groups were doing and how they were organized (and) we weighed the pluses and minuses of the approach that would work best.”

Durling says memberships are to be renewed every year to help ensure members are engaged and actively participating. As such, he notes around 150 runners sign up per year.

For their membership, runners not only receive access to the club’s private Facebook group, they’ll receive invitations to social events, access to offers and raffles as well as obtain voting rights at meetings once they sign up.

“It just helps build a more of a tight-knit community,” adds Durling, noting that memberships are also free. “We really just want to have a very clear idea of who our members are so that’s one of the reasons we ask people to sign up.”

For more information on BLT Runners, visit the website.

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