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Royal Victoria half-marathon, 8K race set for Sunday

The Royal Victoria Marathon is back this year — sort of — with a half-marathon and eight-kilometre race set for Sunday.
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Royal Victoria half marathon and 8K race courses. ROYAL VICTORIA MARATHON

The Royal Victoria Marathon is back this year — sort of — with a half-marathon and eight-kilometre race set for Sunday.

All of the approximately 4,400 participants — about 2,700 in the half marathon and 1,700 in the 8K — are required to be double-vaccinated, and will have to be masked until just after they start running.

“We’re asking them to wear masks when they’re lining up in the start,” said spokeswoman Louise Hodgson-Jones.

“As soon as they start running, they can take the mask off, but when they come back to the finish area, they’re required to put the mask on.”

For anyone who loses a mask, there will be a supply on hand, she said, noting the mask requirement is typical of other running events. “It just gives people that extra confidence.”

Hodgson-Jones said organizers are checking the vaccination status of participants during the race-package pickup in the Crystal Gardens, which continues today.

Victoria’s last complete marathon — the 40th all-time — took place in 2019.

A full marathon just wasn’t in the cards this year.

“We just felt with COVID and with the extra restrictions, it would be too much to put together. But we’re hoping the full marathon will come back next year.”

Organizers also reduced the number of participants in this year’s events. In the past, the half-marathon has had as many as 4,000 participants, while the 8K has had 3,000.

“We’re pretty much near our max,” Hodgson-Jones said, noting there is a lot of enthusiasm for the event nonetheless.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback. It’s been wonderful.”

The races both start and finish on Belleville Street, between Oswego and Menzies streets. The 8K begins at 7:30 a.m. and the half-marathon at 9:30 a.m.

Traffic is expected to be affected downtown, in James Bay, in the Cook Street area, near Beacon Hill Park and in the Fairfield/Gonzales area.

Setting up of cones, signs and aid stations will start at 3 a.m. Sunday, with everything taken down as soon as the last participant passes by.

The time limit for half-marathoners is three and a half hours, while for 8K participants, it’s 90 minutes.

The CHEK Charity Pledge Program is back for a 17th year. It has so far raised over $2 million for a variety of charities.

For more information, go to runvictoriamarathon.com.

jbell@timescolonist.com