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Lace up for The Refuge’s annual quarter marathon

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

On your marks, get set, go – The Refuge Youth Outreach Centre’s annual quarter marathon is returning on July 27.

The marathon, which is in its 14th year, started the same year the organization’s executive director Clarence Keesman came on board according to events coordinator Amanda May.

“He had organized a fairly similar event in Toronto at a previous job before he came on board and kind of adopted the same thing here and it’s worked really well,” says May.

The marathon begins at Oshawa City Hall, 50 Centre Street South, and registration opens at 7 a.m. on July 27.

The Refuge Youth Outreach Centre is an Oshawa-based non-profit organization which works with youth who are homeless or at risk of experiencing homelessness, or are struggling.

Prospective runners can register online, and if they raise $150 or more, they can race for free.

The starting gun fires at 8:30 a.m.

“We have a big start-arch, you really can’t miss us,” May says with a chuckle.

She explains the quarter marathon is a 10 km route, while there is also eight marathon, which begins around 8:45 a.m. at Lakeview Park.

The finish line for both marathons is at Lakeview Park West.

“The finish area is renown for having an excellent top-rated food tent,” says May. “We’ve got bagels, fruit, granola bars, snacks and refreshments, and we also have an awesome massage tent which is provided by students from Trillium College to help our runners relax afterwards.”

There is prize money for the top three runners overall.

May says they are currently on track to see increased participation in the event compared to last year when there were approximately 630 runners.

“So far we’re on track to actually do a little bit higher than that,” she says. “We usually expect between the 600 and 700 participant mark.”

May notes the organization has an “enormous volunteer force,” and with spectators, they usually welcome around 1,000 people at the event.

All the proceeds raised go towards The Refuge, and May hopes to raise $15,000 through fundraising.

However, after sponsorships and registration are added on, May estimates their grand total is around $25,000.

Last year, the organization raised around $24,000.

“It’s one of our most important fundraisers,” she says. “It’s one of the reasons why we’ve been doing it for 14 years.”

As the youth centre is a non-profit organization, they rely on events like the marathon to “continue doing what we do,” May says.