‘This is devastating’: Calgary Marathon medals tied up at Vancouver port days before race

By Michael Williams and Hana Mae Nassar

The Calgary Marathon will most likely have to go ahead without medals on hand this Sunday, May 29.

The hardware is apparently trapped in a container at the Port of Vancouver — where the shipment has been since the beginning of April.

Kirsten Fleming, who has been organizing the Calgary Marathon alongside a team for 10 years, says this is the first time something like this has happened to the event.

“We know there’s going to be a lot of disappointed runners on race day. We’ve had a rough couple of years. It’s been two and a half years of cancellations being rescheduled and restricted by public health measures,” Fleming explained.

“This is highly unusual and I think we’re all dealing with fulfillment and supply chain issues, and our personal lives as well as our jobs. But we had given ourselves lots of extra time and this is absolutely unprecedented that something like this has ever happened at the Calgary Marathon.”

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She notes everyone who crosses the finish line, from kids to those who run 50 kilometres, would normally get a medal.

The Port of Vancouver says it doesn’t operate the terminals or have the status of individual container ships. Fleming says the company that does, Global Container Terminals Canada (GCTC), has been in contact with organizers and has cited backlogs at the port as the reason for the delays.

Fleming explains organizing a marathon “takes a full year.” She tells CityNews the order for the medals was placed in early January, with the goods supposedly shipped in March.

“They were circling the Port of Vancouver since April 8th. We’ve been informed today that that boat isn’t going to be unloaded until this weekend. They just docked on Saturday and due to the backlog at the port, they’re now in a holding pattern at the Vancouver Port Authority. We’re pretty disappointed and we know there’s going to be a lot of disappointed runners on race day,” she said Tuesday.

After making multiple calls, Fleming says she was told by a port authority worker that the marathon’s container was “below deck, the second row from the bottom, and that there’s approximately 1,000 containers over top of it.”

The first runners are expected to cross the finish line at 8:05 a.m. Sunday. Unless there’s a miracle, it’s unlikely the medals will make it to Calgary for race day.

Despite this, Fleming says it’s all-hands-on-deck right now to figure out what can be done to make up for the lack of hardware.

“This is devastating for our team, especially to be dealing with this five days before the event. We all have pretty stacked schedules to try and pull this event off as it is with an army of volunteers, so we’re definitely in the war room right now brainstorming on ways that we can surprise and delight our participants and make sure they have an exceptional experience on the race course and finish the race feeling satisfied and leave happy,” she explained.

Once the medals do arrive — whenever that may be — Fleming says organizers will work to get them to the runners.

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