Aaron Baldwin ran a marathon for the first time on Sunday; he also won a marathon for the first time on Sunday.
Baldwin, a 32 year-old WestJet employee from Calgary, took first place in Uclueletâ€™s Edge-to-Edge Marathon by finishing the 42-kilometre race in 3 hours and 46 seconds.
Vancouverâ€™s Hjalmar Kristiansen, who won both the 2013 and 2014 Edge-to-Edge crowns, narrowly missed out on a three-peat as he finished second with a time of 3 hours, 6 minutes, and 2 seconds.
Baldwin told the Westerly News after the race that he had run about five half-marathons but had never taken on a full one before and had never participated in an Edge-to-Edge event despite being a frequent visitor to the West Coast.
â€œWe try to come out every few weeks so itâ€™s like a second home here,â€ he said. â€œIt seemed like a good place to run my first marathon.â€
He said he felt strong at the start of the race but fatigue set in around the 25-kilometre mark
â€œIt is a really tough course, thereâ€™s lots of rolling hills and going through the trails will do you in pretty good, especially the second set of trails; that definitely hurt the legs a little bit,â€ he said.
â€œWhen I did the turnaround I saw I had quite a bit of a lead on the next guy, so I felt I could ease back a little bit and not push it…I was just hoping he wouldnâ€™t catch up until the end.â€
Baldwin was unsure how far he was from the finish line when he turned the courseâ€™s last corner and saw his family cheering him in.
â€œI was super happy. It gave me the boost to sprint across the finish line instead of crawl,â€ he said.
â€œI was feeling kind of tired and I wasnâ€™t sure where the finish line was but when I ran around the corner I saw them all cheering so I was able to sprint through the finish.â€
Ucluelet local Danny Osborne, 18, took top prize in the half-marathonâ€™s Under-20 division and placed seventh overall.
It was the third time Osborne has run the Edge-to-Edgeâ€™s half-marathon and he finished with a personal best: 1 hour, 43 minutes and 16 seconds.
â€œThird timeâ€™s the charm I guess because this one has been the best so far with time and placement,â€ he said. â€œThis is definitely one of the best years by far with the organization and all the spirit thatâ€™s been out this year.â€
He said the volunteers and community members who were cheering the runners on helped boost the eventâ€™s positive and lively ambience.
â€œTheyâ€™re really the ones that help tie it together and make it such a popular event,â€ he said. â€œIt really gives you energy, having everyone cheer you on along the way.â€
First time race coordinator Sally Mole told the Westerly on Monday that she was delighted with how the event came through and she attributed its success to the communityâ€™s support.
â€œI was approaching the event with some trepidation. Itâ€™s a huge responsibility and very much a big learning curve, but I was really overwhelmed at how the community pulled together and just made things happen,â€ she said.
â€œIt was incredibly inspiring for me to see the community pull together like that…It was just an all around good showing of community support and teamwork and it was a bit overwhelming for me actually to watch it all come together in a hugely good way.â€
She said the community spirit Ucluelet consistently shows during the day of, and lead up to, the marathon motivates runners to keep coming back.
â€œWeâ€™re known out there as friendly-Ucluelet and one of the feedbacks Iâ€™ve had from participants is how friendly people were,â€ she said.
â€œEveryone was smiling, everyone was helpful; it just makes us look really good and makes us live up to that friendly-Ucluelet reputation.â€
She said the marathonâ€™s race committee will debrief in the coming days and hash out strategies for making next yearâ€™s race even better.
â€œIâ€™m toying with a few different ideas of how to get feedback from volunteers,â€ she said.
â€œObviously weâ€™ve all made little notes about what to tweak and what to look at. Thereâ€™s been some great ideas floated out there so I think we need to bring that altogether and really embrace the feedback from everyone who was involved…thereâ€™s lots of knowledge out there to tap.â€