For as long as Edmonton and Calgary have been around, there has been a rivalry between the two cities. Both are comparable in size, both have major league sports teams, both have easy access to the Rocky Mountains and both have great summer festivals. For an Edmontonian (Me) to travel to Calgary and declare my civic pride, I risk ridicule and good-natured teasing. It is a lot like sibling rivalry. However, when the going gets tough, Calgary and Edmonton stand together. Great examples are when the tornado smashed through Edmonton and Calgary experienced devastating flooding. We stand together like family.
We are similar enough that I don’t think it is unreasonable to compare Calgary’s Marathon Weekend to Edmonton’s Marathon weekend. Since I attended Calgary’s big weekend May 25 & 26 and I also attended Edmonton’s big weekend August 24 & 25, I think I can do a reasonable job. However, this of course is subject to my opinion. There were great things about both weekends and terrible things about both, but all in all they were great events.
So let’s get started, shall we?
Let’s start with Expo.
Calgary Package Pick up
|Event||Calgary Expo||Edmonton Expo|
|Package Pick up||Located at the Big 4, a huge venue with lots of room. Calgary had lots of space very little waiting and the volunteer spent time telling you what to expect.||No longer located at the Expo Center, the venue was changed to The Chateau Lacombe. Package pick up was tight and the lines were confusing, the volunteers were rushed but excellent.|
|Chip Check||Did not have Chip Check||One guy was checking chips, so even though you had very little wait time for package pick up the line for chip check was insane. 1 guy???|
|Parking||$15 unless you had your bib number, then it was free.||Free in the hotel parkade to expo goers|
|Vendors||There were several vendors who offered product for sale and had excellent variety and mediocre deals.||Only a couple of vendors offered a few items but I found a gal who made custom compression sleeves for my calves SCORE!|
|Charities||Team Diabetes and Team in Training were well represented and so was Right to Play with Martin Parnell signing books.||Team Diabetes and Team in Training were well represented and Team in Training talked to about the Women Nike’s Marathon in San Fran, I am in! Kid Sport was well represented.|
|Other Races||Calgary is a mecca for fun runs and longer distant races. They had reps from all over Alberta, Western Canada and California.||New York City Marathon and Vancouver Marathon were promoting their races as well as a couple of cycling races.|
|Speakers||Several speakers from Canadian Medalists to book authors were scheduled.||None|
Best Expo? Calgary had more variety, Edmonton answered more of my questions and was WAY swankier.
Transportation and Parking
|Parking||Very limited on race day and $15||Tons of parking at Edmonton Expo Grounds. $5 prepaid pass available at the Expo, $12 on site.|
|City Transportation||The C Train was easily accessible and most people used it. Wouldn’t let you purchase a special event ticket for the return. Station was walking distance from the start line. The ticket line on the return trip was insane.||LRT is fairly accessible and plenty of people used it, although most people drove. Public transit tends to be less popular than people self-driving. Why? Wow-let’s just say the city is working on it. LRT offers a special event ticket and can pre-purchase a return ticket which means fewer lines when it is time to go home.|
|Road Blocks||Calgary Police is an awesome job blocking roads and directing traffic. Not very chatty. One confusing intersection had us running into oncoming traffic, it was scary. No one was paying attention.||Edmonton Police did an awesome job blocking roads and directing traffic and had the added bonus of being chatty and friendly. One car pulled out of a parking lot and nearly ran me over. The Police Office took a piece out of him and fixed the situation.|
|Road Conditions||Calgary had a lot of potholes and ankle turners. It was spring and winter plays havoc on the roads.||The bad sections of the roads were spray painted in neon as warning.|
Edmonton wins best parking and Calgary wins best public transit.
Calgary Start – Where are the pace bunnies?
Edmonton Start, Lots of bunnies every where!
|5km||Morning Race- same time as the other races, no opportunity to run 2 different races.||Evening Race – this race was the night before the bigger events. It gave you an opportunity to run 2 events. The Evening race perfectly showcases longer summer days in Edmonton|
|10km||Morning Race same time as the other races, no opportunity to run 2 different races.||Evening Race – this race was the night before the bigger events. It gave you an opportunity to run 2 events. The Evening race perfectly showcases longer summer days in Edmonton|
|21.1km||Morning Race In the spring 4C||Morning Race in the summer 16C|
|42.2km||Morning Race In the spring 4C||Morning Race in the summer 16C|
|hills||Yes – each race had hills but the marathon distance had a significant hill about the half way mark.||No – fast and flat|
|location||Along the Bow River and downtown||Along the North Saskatchewan River and into residential|
|views||Running beside the Bow is nice||Running beside the NSask is spectacular|
|Crowds||A very well promoted race. All of Calgary knew about it and came out to cheer or run it. 15 000 participants over 4 races.||The streets were practically empty. Not well promoted. Hardly anyone heard about it. Over 2500 participants for all the races|
Calgary was a circular race, Edmonton was an out and back. I liked being able to register for multiple races. There were other runners who like it too. Calgary’s race morning was pretty exciting with everyone there. It was a cluster F*** at race start. They were big enough to have corrals. The evening race was fun, the kids race 1k was first then the 5k and the 10k left at the same time. An evening race during sunset is lovely and the view was spectacular in Edmonton. I am giving the win to Edmonton.
|Food||The post-race refuel food was located downstairs in the grandstands. It wasn’t advertised well and you heard about it through word of mouth. After running 42.2km who wants to walk stairs? Lots of chips and granola bars. They would only give me one bottle of water and wanted me to take juice.||Right after medal and water pickup, the food tent was part of the exit. Lots of variety and even had wraps! Gave me two bottles of water was cool with me not choosing juice.|
|Water Stations||They had a water station about every 3k-5k. Gave a choice of Water or Gatorade and gel||3 stations on the way out and 3 on the way back (about every 3-5k) – same stations. Offered GU Brew or Water and gel.|
|Port-a-potties||There were easily 50 at the start line and two at each water station||Zero at the start line and 2-4 at each water station. Northlands provided facilities – but not enough for the volume of people at the start.|
|Massage Therapists||Pre-purchased post-race massage $15, race day purchase $20||Post-race massage $20|
|Pancake Breakfast||The Stampede association provided a pancake breakfast – not sure if there was a cost.||None, but Tim Hortons provided coffee|
|Booths/vendors||Lots was going on, a real party atmosphere but couldn’t see what was in the tents because of the volume of people in a small space.
Nowhere to sit
|A few vendors were lined up on the way out of the Race Park. Lots of room to move around, Sofa and Chairs were set up for runners to eat their post-race food.|
|Massage Tent||Could not find it.||Well marked, easily found inside next to the casino. Long wait 30-60min. Well worth it.|
Stairs post marathon are just stupid. Be kind to rookie athletes Calgary! Edmonton wins the post-food category because of location, quantity and sandwiches.
Calgary wins for party atmosphere. Calgary Stampede association knows how to throw a party – hands down winner.
Calgary had a new medal for every race although I am not sure why they didn’t wait until next year to have the big reveal for the 50th anniversary. These medals had a cool factor and so did the shirts. The 42.2km was a belt buckle. Usually you need to complete an Ultra-marathon for a belt buckle. This was cool and at the Stampede, if you were caught wearing it, you won swag from the Calgary Marathon Association. Way to market yourselves Calgary Marathon!!
Edmonton had a new medal this year. It no longer had the Canadian Derby theme attached to it. I think it should go back to the old Festival Marathon theme since we are Festival City. The detail on the medal was exquisite. I like di-cuts and detail. The Alberta Legislature is the prominent feature except you don’t really see it on the course. The different distance medals were differentiated by the ribbon. Interesting how in Edmonton the half is red and in Calgary the half is blue, while the full in Edmonton is blue and the full in Calgary is red. Coincidence?
I didn’t put volunteers into the equation because quite frankly, Alberta is second to none when it comes to people stepping up to help out. These two events were no different. Lots of help, everyone was smiling, kind and supportive. I love volunteers!! As a runner, I always make sure I thank them as I run by “Thanks for volunteering!” People like hearing thanks and knowing they are appreciated. Without their support, there would be zero road races for me. I pay it back by volunteering one race for every race I run. You get groovy swag for helping out, and its fun.
The winner? Tough call, it might be preference. I am giving it to Calgary for size and variety but Edmonton wins for detail.
Looking at both events, I am thinking carefully about where to spend my race dollar. I really want to be a part of the 50th anniversary in Calgary because they do throw a great party. Which distance? Hmmm, I am leaning towards the Marathon but I am not sure yet. I will see how I improve in January. How about Edmonton? I don’t think I will do the half or full in Edmonton. It is just too lonely out there to go that far, but I will do the 10k because Saturday night was a lot of fun! Now, I would love to see Edmonton Marathon weekend become a massive success, so I think I will see if I can help out with organization. I am a big believer in put up or shut up, and Edmonton made huge gains this year, maybe they could use some more help.