Okanagan marathoners running along the lake-front boardwalk in Kelowna’s downtown core. ( Okanagan Marathon photo)

SunRype Okanagan Marathon returns to Kelowna streets

The Okanagan Marathon takes over downtown this weekend

A marathon event tradition in Kelowna returns this weekend.

The 25th annual SunRype Okanagan Marathon takes place Saturday and Sunday with more than 2,300 runners expected to line up at City Park for the five-kilometre race on Saturday and either the 10-km, half-marathon and full marathon distance options on Sunday.

Race director Tara Melville said that the Okanagan Marathon has always been a community celebration as much as a sport event.

“It’s one of those sizable enough marathons for Canada, but it’s not so big that it gets away from that community feel,” Melville said.

“It’s an ‘end of summer, start of winter’ kind of community event and with all the excitement going on in the marathon (world), people who aren’t runners are now more interested in the sport.”

Melville refers to Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-two-hour marathon time on Oct. 12 in Vienna, Austria.

In the Okanagan, times for the marathon will come in at the three to four hour range.

The marathon expects 300 runners in the full marathon on Sunday and 900 in the half-marathon. The remaining runners will join in the five- and 10-km walk and runs.

Melville said that there will be runners this year that raced in the inaugural Okanagan Marathon 25 years ago.

“We’re trying to build on that community feel. It’s not just about running,” she said.

READ MORE: Road closures, detours and transit impacts coming with weekend’s Okanagan Marathon

In its 25 years, the marathon has raised close to $400,000 dollars in partnership with the Sunshine Foundation.

Okanagan Marathon contestants not only get to raise money for the foundation, which supports Canadian children living with severe disabilities and illnesses, they’re also given the chance to improve on their racing aspirations.

As one of the last marathons of the year, with a relatively flat and level route, the Okanagan Marathon is a popular pick for die-hard runners looking to qualify for bigger and prestigious marathons, like the Boston Marathon.

The five km walk and run start Saturday at City Park while the 10 km, half and full marathon will take over Kelowna streets on Sunday.

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