KENSINGTON – It’s one of the most challenging running events on P.E.I., and is often used by runners as a gauge.
The 45th anniversary of the Harvest Festival 25K Road Race will be held on Saturday over what has been nicknamed the “Killer Course” due to its challenging hills and steady inclines. It is the longest-running foot road race on Prince Edward Island.
The race, which is a points event for the P.E.I. RoadRunners Club, will begin on Rte. 225 in Stanchel by the old Church of Scotland at 8:30 a.m., and will finish in Kensington at Alysha Toombs Memorial Park alongside Credit Union Centre, the former Community Gardens.
“It’s very challenging,” noted Ivan Gallant, who returns as race chairman after stepping aside for the 2016 and 2017 races. “To me, this 25K can be as tough as a marathon. That’s because of the time of year it is, it could be 32 degrees – and the hills!
“A marathon is longer (42.195 kilometres), but this is every bit a challenge because of the conditions.”
Gallant went on to say that participants who plan to run a marathon will sometimes run this race to see where they are at with their training.
There will be water stations every five kilometres and at the halfway mark of the course. Gallant added the organizing committee could still use some volunteers for the water stops, and anyone interested can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gallant stressed the public is encouraged to cheer the runners on along the course, and at the finish line.
Pre-registration will be held at the start of the race on Saturday morning, and also on Friday at Credit Union Centre’s FitPlex from 6 to 8 p.m. The entry fee is $30, and Gallant noted a draw for a free registration will be held from the names who register on Friday.
Multiple pairs of running shoes will be part of the prize and draw packages. The first 75 runners to register will receive a free long-sleeve running shirt courtesy of Malpeque Bay Credit Union, which is in its 35th year as the race’s major sponsor.
Last year’s winners
Last year’s overall winner was Michael Bergeron of Halifax, N.S., in 1:35:41, and Winsloe native Brandon Higginbotham was second in 1:36:30. Dr. Helga Reisch-MacNeill of Kensington was the top female runner, and had a seventh-place finish overall in the 56-runner field. Reisch-MacNeill’s time was 1:51.49.
“We are hoping for a good turnout again,” said Gallant, who noted a record number of participants – 85 – ran the race in 2014.
Former Kensington Intermediate-Senior High School athletic director Stanley Chiasson set the current course record of 1:25:51 in 2007, and Jen Nicholson holds the female mark of 1:42:02, which was established in 2008.
“To do that route in 1:25:51, I would say it will be a long time before that record is broken,” said a smiling Gallant. “I know records are made to be broken, but that’s going to be a tough one.”