The P.E.I. Marathon won’t be asking participants to run through the Sherwood Cemetery in Charlottetown this year.
Myrtle Jenkins-Smith, race director, said for the past three years runners have had to connect with Sherwood Road via Brackley Point Road through the cemetery because there were safety issues with traffic and runners on the roundabout in front of the Charlottetown Airport.
The marathon begins on the North Shore and ends in downtown Charlottetown.
Jenkins-Smith said people have been voicing concerns to marathon officials over the fact the course has been going through the cemetery and directly past the gravestones of loved ones.
“We’ve been dealing with this (issue) for three months and we will not be going through the graveyard,’’ Jenkins-Smith said Tuesday.
The marathon, which is one of the top five Canadian qualifiers for the Boston Marathon, takes place Oct. 20.
“Our footing will now be back on the original course, which is on the grass outside between the pavement and the graveyard. We still come up the Brackley Point Road onto the Sherwood Road, but we’ll be on the right-hand side of the road on the grass.’’
Cathy McCarville of Stratford, who is a long-time participant in the marathon, has family buried in the cemetery. She is pleased with the change to the race.
“Here I was running past my dad’s gravestone,’’ McCarville said. “It was kind of disheartening. My sister and I both found it very hard.’’
“I’ve run past a cemetery on different occasions but never through a cemetery. I just think it’s a sacred place. It’s the hardest part of the marathon for me.’’
Happy about the change
Carl Holmes, whose father, Richard, and other relatives are buried in the Sherwood Cemetery, is also happy to hear about the change.
Holmes isn’t a runner but has heard about the route issue these past few years from other runners.
“I’m glad to hear that,’’ Holmes said. “I never really knew what was going on to begin with. To me, it seems better if there was some other route that they could take. It’s a burial ground. My father and grandparents and uncles and various relatives are buried there.’’
McCarville said she applauds marathon officials for looking out for the safety of its participants and is happy to hear the course won’t take them through the cemetery anymore.
“I’ve run a lot of marathons in North America. I’ve never run through a cemetery. I’ve run past a cemetery on different occasions but never through a cemetery. I just think it’s a sacred place. It’s the hardest part of the marathon for me.’’
McCarville said the last time she participated she ran around the cemetery, basically what the official route will be this year.
“It’s just not the right time for me to be visiting there, I don’t think. I’m (also) thinking of other families and the people that are buried there.’’