People have a myriad of reasons for not racing or running consistently.
But Gary Faryon wants to eliminate at least one of those reasons — financial.
For the cost of $15 a race and a pair of runners, the Richmond resident and MEC manager aims to get people consistently active through the co-op’s running series — the first run of the year takes place along Richmond’s West Dyke trail tomorrow (Saturday) at 9 a.m.
“We want to use this to encourage people to make a lifestyle change,” said Faryon.
“It’s great for your cardio, it clears your mind, gives you energy day in and day out and improves your sleep.”
In its second year, MEC’s running program encourages people to enjoy the benefits of running while removing some of the financial barriers that often come with participating in a race or training.
The program includes free meet-up runs, where runners can get tips from experts and meet other enthusiasts, and training clinics for all levels.
This year, there’ll be more than 80, $15-a-head races throughout Canada, up from last year’s 42.
“As a not-for-profit, we’re in a unique position because our goal isn’t to make money,” said Faryon.
“We can help support people in their outdoor recreation without having to fundraise or make a profit, which allows for low costs.”
MEC is currently subsidizing these costs, which varies depending on how many people sign up — a 100-person race costs roughly $17 per person, but the co-op only charges $15, about half the cost of the average race.
They’re hoping to get it down to $10 per person as more people join.
“We’re expanding the races and taking that extra step to reach out to the peripheral communities, which is why we chose Richmond for the first run,” said Faryon.
“Also because Richmond has so many great places to run.”
Running is only one part of MEC’s focus on urban recreational activity.
Rather than promote only weekend excursions such as rock climbing or hiking, organizers wanted to hone in on a few activities people could enjoy during the week or without leaving the city.
They’ve extended this to include yoga and biking, as well.
To account for the low costs, the races have eliminated many of the frills such as free doughnuts or T-shirts, and focus on being a well organized, timed and safe event.
“We provide a non-threatening environment,” said the 53-year-old who has been running since the age of 11.
“Staff understand the difficulties for beginner runners, some of the staff are beginner runners.
“These small, intimate races are more about a quality run than a major competition.”
The cutoff for online registration was Thursday night, however, participants can still register in person at the MEC in Vancouver or North Vancouver. Registration on the day of the race costs $20.
“We embrace new people, but also have competitive runners, so it’s a unique mix of all levels that you don’t always see in most races.”
It begins at 9 a.m. at Garry Point Park, and continues along the West Dyke trail.
For more information for tomorrow’s race or other Lower Mainland runs, visit events.mec.ca.