Small Town Charm at the Waterloo Marathon

Scenic country route with all the big city marathon perks

Photo: Larry Roger Gingerich

While big city marathons have their appeal, we are often partial to the charms of events that take place in smaller or more rural communities. And while Waterloo is a thriving metropolis in its own right, the Waterloo Marathon & Half Marathon blends country charm with big city race perks seamlessly.

A Boston-qualifier, the Waterloo Marathon’s speedy course is a fantastic spring marathon option for those looking to qualify. With a combination of rolling hills and flat sections, the course was a personal best for Get Out There reporter Jeff Rowthorn, who covered the event for us earlier this year. Watch his full race report below:

But even if speed isn’t your game, the Waterloo Marathon offers something for all runners. Start with a stunning course through beautiful rural Mennonite country. The marathon is a single-loop route that takes in pastoral scenes of farms and crosses an historic covered bridge as you make your way to the finish line. Our reporter was even passed by a horse-drawn buggy! The half marathon welcomes both runners and walkers, so no matter what your speed you can enjoy this event.

The event starts and finishes at Bechtel Park in Waterloo and offers an indoor site for warm-up and complimentary post-race massages. Organizationally, this race offers key perks of any top-notch event: professional chip timing, technical race shirt, race photographers, water stations every 3 km, prizing for overall and age group winners, first aid and free event parking. Race finishers also receive a clay medallion created by a local, award-winning potter. There is plenty of community support for racers, not to mention the half marathoners who cheer on the marathon runners to the finish!

Proceeds from the race support the St. John Ambulance, Kitchener-Waterloo Branch Home Caregiver Support Program (see below for more details). Thanks to the generosity of runners, walkers, donors, volunteers and sponsors over the past 18 years, St. John Ambulance has been able to provide life-saving programs and services in the Kitchener-Waterloo community.

Participants will also be familiar with a number of the event's ambassadors. The Waterloo Half Marathon is a record breaking race! Ed Whitlock at 85 years of age broke the world record for his age group. Ed has been a race Ambassador for the past few years and runners are thrilled to meet and accept their awards from him. Also competing is Jennifer Schneider, race ambassador and a former drug addict who qualified for Boston at our 2015 Marathon, and then ran the Boston and Waterloo Marathons in the same week in 2016. Rhonda-Marie Avery – the first blind runner to attempt the Barkely Marathons, also ran the half in 2016. All three ambassadors will be back at the event this year.

Registration is now open for the 19th Annual Waterloo Marathon & Half Marathon is in effect until March 15th. At $70 (early bird), this event is priced competitively. Be sure to register soon and get ready to run Waterloo in April! Register Now The event is also looking for pace bunnies to participate.
More about the Home Caregiver Support Program
Caring for a loved one at home over an extended period of time is never easy, but St. John Ambulance can help.
St. John Ambulance, in partnership with the Order of St. Lazarus Grand Priory in Canada will be offering the Home Caregiver Support Program in 2017, date to be confirmed.
This informational training program is designed to train, educate, peer mentor and provide respite care for home caregivers.
Caregivers often face multiple challenges due to competing demands with children, parents, employment, and more.  This program is meant to ease some of the hardship for the Home Caregiver, in relation to physical, mental, emotional, social, financial and spiritual care.
This program is organized as a four-part series offered Saturday at various times and durations to suit the Caregivers. To make it easier to attend, we can arrange for a trained volunteer to care for the loved one at home while their caregiver is at the sessions.
Comments from those who have previously attended these sessions have been extremely positive. All participants have indicated they came away with information and tools that they could use to help care for themselves, and to deliver loving care in the most difficult of times.
Being a caregiver can be rewarding and life-affirming.  But it can also be draining and exhausting, especially if the caregiver neglects their own needs.  In this Program,  we provide opportunity for caregivers to: learn aspects of physical care such as Lifting; become educated on the support services in the Region; share and discuss mutual concerns;  and, receive the support and encouragement they need to take care for themselves as well.
For more information about our Home Caregiver Support Program, please go to or call 519-579-6285. Preregistration is required. There is no fee but  if the Caregiver can afford it, a $10 Cost Recovery per session is requested.   Participants are asked to give a few weeks’ notice if they will need a trained volunteer from Hospice of Waterloo Region to care for their loved one. 

For more information please contact Tony Lea at 519-579-5451 or


Race Reviews

Race reports from running races, triathlons, duathlons, adventure races, obstacles runs, bike races and more!


Heel Striking For Runners - How Bad Is It?

It has been reported that up to 95% of all runners instinctively strike the ground with their heel first. Meanwhile, running experts and shoe companies have been pushing hard for change for quite some time, proposing with vigour that mid-foot and even fore-foot striking is the better way to go. Their

argument goes that by landing further forward on the foot, it decreases landing loads on muscles, joints and tendons, and in the process makes you a more efficient and faster runner. Some claim that we have become overly reliant on cushioned shoes that brace our impact to the point that we no longer recognise the damage of landing heel first.

Despite these assertions, there exists no hard proof that mid-foot/fore-foot striking reduces injuries. What is true is that some people, often high-level runners, naturally land on the mid-foot (they tend to be “biomechanically perfect, with wide forefeet, neutral arches, and flexible calves”) but the larger issue is the conversion of natural heel-strikers to try to alter their landing pattern. Anecdotal evidence suggests that inexperienced runners attempting to make this change often develop injuries such as Achilles Tendinitis and Plantar Fasciitis and, in some cases, even metatarsal stress fractures.

In fact, studies have shown that recreational runners are more efficient striking heel first. The results of one study confirmed that walking with a heel-first strike pattern “reduced the metabolic cost of walking by 53%.” This, in large part, demonstrates why slower runners usually make initial contact with their heels.

As well, most recreational runners clearly stated during research that heel-striking is more comfortable than mid/fore-foot striking and video evidence showed that the transition to minimalist footwear by this group of runners did not significantly alter their strike patterns.

The fallout is that contrary to what many ‘experts’ suggest, heel striking is safe and, for many, a more efficient way to run. 95% of runners can’t possibly all be wrong.