When deciding to choose among the 26.2, 13.1, 10k or 5k race offerings that comprise this year’s Niagara Falls International Marathon, one thing all runners will have in common is crossing the finish line at the brink of the falls. Each of the four races will take place on Sunday, October 30th and follow the scenic Niagara Parkway. Participants of the full marathon course will also have the added bragging rights of running in two different countries along their 26.2 mile route.
The race, now in its 19th consecutive year, has a unique history that goes back to the early 1970’s. The inaugural race was named the Buffalo to Niagara Skylon International Marathon and took place in 1974. In just three short years, the race attracted over 3000 runners, surpassing participation of both the Boston and New York marathons at that time. In 1980 and 1984, the course was used in part for the men’s US Olympic Marathon trials. Unfortunately, due to a lack of sponsorship in 1986, the international race was suspended. Ironically, the race’s cancellation gave birth to the Buffalo Marathon that most WNYers are familiar with today.
Fast forward to 1998 and the international marathon was “resurrected” with a new sponsor and name, the Casino Niagara International Marathon. A half marathon was added in 2001, followed by a 5k distance in 2005 and two years later, a 10k distance was introduced. 2007 also saw the finish line for each of these respective races moved to the brink of the falls where it continues to be today. Voted as the most scenic marathon in Ontario, the Niagara Falls International Marathon continues to grow with participants representing over 36 countries. Approximately 20% of runners come from the U.S. with a large number of them from right here in WNY.
Diane Chesla and Henri Ragetlie began as Co-Race Directors in late 2016. Diane had directed The Chocolate Race and two ultra-distance races in the Ontario Ultra Series, bringing 10 years directing experience with her. Henri has been directing races on behalf of the St. Catharines Road Runners for 20 Niagara Falls International Marathon Race Day Slated for October 30th years. Both are avid runners who have completed a number of marathons, ultra-marathons, orienteering and adventure races.
“Like most races today, the Niagara Falls International Marathon must manage the ever changing expectations of runners,” shared Co-Race Director, Chesla. “Apart from the unique aspects of the international bridge crossing for our marathon runners, the one thing that truly separates our race from others is our unique finish line near the brink of the falls. The roar and mist emanating from the falls is something that cannot be matched,” added Chesla.
The start for the full marathon begins at the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo at 10 AM. This race is sanctioned as a Boston Marathon Qualifier. The half marathon is promoted as a flat course for most of the entirety of its route. The “half” begins at 10 AM on the Canadian side near Warwick Ave on the Niagara Parkway. The 10k is an out and back course with negative elevation change with a start time of 9 AM. The 5k is also promoted as a flat out and back course. This race starts at 9:45 AM. Each race features various shuttle and parking options.
New for 2016, registered runners can enter for a chance to win a tour for four individuals of three different craft breweries in Niagara complete with limousine service on the day before the race. Two groups of winners will be chosen to win this unique contest. One of the stops on the tour, the Niagara Brewing Company has been designated as the official craft brewer of the race and will be featured as part of the post-race festivities. Race weekend will also feature a Health & Fitness Expo on the Friday and Saturday preceding the four races to be held on Sunday.
To learn more about this truly unique series of races and or to register, please visit – www.niagarafallsmarathon.com.