Getting ready to race the Whistler Half Marathon 

Trainers offer tips and encouragement to runners

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Eileen Craig had never run 21 kilometres before, until last week.

"It wasn't really something I thought I could do," said the 47-year-old Whistlerite.

This past Saturday, however, Craig ran the route of the Whistler Half Marathon race, all 21 kilometres. She was with her running group, the same group she's been training with since March. They ran for four minutes and walked for a minute. It took her two hours and 25 minutes.

"It was an amazing feeling of accomplishment," said Craig.

Now she wants to beat that time. On Saturday, June 4 she'll have her chance in the Whistler Half Marathon. It's the first race of its kind in town.

Craig, like 800 others who will race in Whistler, is one of an ever-growing segment of the population that has recently discovered the half marathon event.

"The half marathon distance is the fastest growing distance within the sport of running... across North America," said race director Dave Clark.

"The half marathon, from a training and time commitment perspective, is very achievable for most people."

In particular, women are coming out in droves. About 75 per cent of the registered participants in Whistler are women.

Kari Gaudet is one of the converted.

Whistler will be her fifth half marathon.

Five years ago, the mother of two was looking for something to do to get back into shape after she had her kids.

All she needed was a pair of running shoes. She leaves the house around 5:30 a.m. four mornings a week.

"I like having a goal," she said. "That's the thing that keeps me motivated."

This time her goal is to break her 2:11 time.

Though she has competed in the half marathon event several times, she has no interest in doing a full marathon at this point.

"I don't have that time in my lifestyle," she said.

That's why the half marathon works for her.

Trainer John Blok has been helping runners get faster for the Whistler race.

He believes that almost anybody who can run a 10-kilometre race can run a half marathon.

"It's a big goal but it's not out of everybody's mental range," said the Ironman competitor.

At this point, three weeks from race day, he recommends that runners complete their long run, roughly 20 to 21 kilometres, if they haven't already. And from there, the training should be tapering off.

"Whistlerites are weird," said Blok, "because if you tell them to start tapering, they'll just start doing something else."

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