One of the more interesting things I got involved with this year was the Ultimate Maritime Challenge – which involved participating in 6 specific events between May and October in the Maritimes. The Ultimate Challenge was actually created for people who complete two other challenges – the NB Challenge and the Maritime Challenge. The NB Challenge required you participating in The Fredericton Marathon in May, The Rock n Run in Miramichi in June, The Marathon by the Sea in Saint John in August and finally, Legs for Literacy in Moncton in October. The Maritime Challenge consisted of the Bluenose Marathon in Halifax in May, the Marathon by the Sea and the PEI Marathon in Charlottetown in October. If you were one of the brave (or foolish) to do all 6 races, upon completion you would be the proud owner of 9 shiny new medals.
I’ve recapped all of the events, but I though an overall review and some completely arbitrary rewards would be fun. So, without further ado – here they are the Ultimate Challenge Awards!
The Best Bargain
Legs for Literacy – Moncton. This was a landslide winner in this category. Not only are you made well aware of where the proceeds for your registration fee is going (to support local literacy – duh), but if you are a student of any sort and register early enough, the cost is only five dollars. That’s incredible – as students still get the tech shirt, the medal and all the other things a full cost registration gets. Regardless of which fee you pay, it’s a great deal.
The Best Expo
Bluenose Marathon – Halifax. Another landslide winner. The size and scope of the expo at the Bluenose is really quite amazing. I have yet to see another expo in this region that comes close to the size of the expo here. There are lots of vendors, great charities and interesting information aplenty here and the layout makes it seem busy, but not claustrophobic. The Bluenose expo seems like an integral part of the event weekend, rather than just something thrown in or an afterthought.
Fredericton Marathon – Fredericton. The flattest course in the area, great for setting a PB in any of the distances. Not necessarily the most scenic, as a large chunk of the race is on multiuse trail, and there are still some kinks to be worked out with the start, but if you are looking for a quick time, Fredericton is hard to beat.
Marathon by the Sea – Saint John. MBTS edges out the Bluenose for this one. Even the 5k in Saint John was surprisingly tough. Both courses have their share of hills but Saint John has more significant changes and the tougher hills – probably the closest category to choose.
I decided this one based on if the medal for each race was unique compared to other years, if the ribbons were event specific or generic and also If each discipline at the event had their own ribbon or some other way to tell the various finishers apart after the race. Design of the medal and the quality of the medal were also taken into consideration. In descending order;
6 – Fredericton Marathon. Generic and rather flimsy ribbon as well as nothing to distinguish the marathon runners from the 5k, etc. Medal itself also was rather dull as well.
5 – Miramichi Rock n Run. The design was better than Fredericton, but it still felt a little flimsy. The ribbon was at last event specific, but wasn’t great quality. Nothing distinguishing the various distances either.
4 – Bluenose Marathon. There was definitely a gap between the bottom two and the other four in this category. The Bluenose medal and ribbon are very nice. However, the ribbon hasn’t changed much over the years – combine that with everyone who finishes the marathon gets the same medal as everybody else, including the kids race participants, and fourth is where I ranked it.
3 – Marathon by the Sea. I really liked this medal and the ribbon was also gorgeous – it also matched the race shirt – a nice touch! Probably my favourite medal design as the colour was great and it captured the local flavour.
2 – Legs for Literacy. This medal seems to get better year by year. I loved that each of the 4 distances had their own unique (and gorgeous) ribbon and the medal itself was also really solid and well done. I almost literally flipped a coin deciding between this medal and….
1 – PEI Marathon. PEI had a really great medal design this year, and while having a spinning medal isn’t totally original, it is still relatively rare. The design and quality are also well solid and I always appreciate when the people running the full get something a little different – in PEI, the ribbon for those completing 42.2 km was different from the other distances.
Most Potential to Improve
Rock n Run – Miramichi. This race is held in a beautiful area with a VERY active running community. A little more attention to detail and a price reduction (or better explanation of where the money goes) would make a big difference here. Having to hand make bibs, running out of swag and some confusion about bag/key drop are all problems that can be avoided and are relatively easy to fix. They may have been surprised by the jump in registrations this year, but time will tell.
Overall, I would say that the Ultimate Maritime Challenge was definitely that – a challenge. I’m still finding it hard to believe that I did it myself this year and I doubt that I would pursue so many races (especially those in back to back weekends) again. That being said, it’s nice to have that option and motivation for people who enjoy these challenge. Running has something for everyone and is rewarding for people of any and all levels. If these challenges get more people involved and help grow some of the races we have in this area, then I’m all for them – all though I may occasionally just be cheering from the sidelines!