The name has been changed from the Great Lakes Half Marathon to the Run The Great Lakes but more than that, Doug Richardson is hoping a change in date will also help bring more runners into the event.
Richardson, the race director, said organizers decided to switch the race day from Saturdays to Sundays and he believes that change will free up the downtown area and give more out-of-town runners additional time to get to the Sault.
"We found that with Saturdays, there was a lot of congestion in the downtown area with the Farmer's Market and the Sault Locks so we decided to go to Sundays," Richardson said. "We should own the street at that time of day so we think it'll be a good thing."
As usual, the race will consist of three distances, with competitors running either the five-kilometre, 10-kilometre or half-marathon distances.
This year's race is scheduled for June 6 at the Roberta Bondar Pavilion, with action kicking off at 8:30 a. m., with the half marathon followed by the five and 10-kilometre races at 9:30 a.m.
"People that have all done this race, love it," Richardson said. "There's lots of prizes and everyone has a chance at winning them. We have a lot of out-of- town people committed and calling for the half marathon but people aren't as likely to travel that far for a five or 10-kilometre race."
That's why Richardson is appealing to the public locally to get involved. He said one of the reasons they changed the name of the race is because the Great Lakes Half Marathon was a little more intimidating and it may have scared the casual runners away.
"If the event's going to grow, it has to grow in the five and 10-kilometre distances," Richardson said. "A lot of people in the Sault run every day but they don't think they're fast enough to race in a race like this but that's not the case.
"We know the potential is there to grow in those two distances and it's just a matter of getting the people to come out."
Last year's race attracted close to 200 competitors but Richardson said about 80 of them were in the half marathon event. He'd like to see the total enrollment swell to 400-to-500 competitors.
"Nobody wants to run a race when there's only 70 people in it," Richardson said.
Last year's female winner in the half marathon was the Sault's Celia Moore while Aaron Litzner from Sault Michigan won the men's half marathon race.
In the 10-kilometre race, the defending champion on the men's side is Steve Ellis from Sudbury while the Sault's Jen Wright is the defending women's champ. Last year's five-kilometre winners included Heather Gordon and Drew Ludtke, both from the Sault.
Proceeds from the race go to the Lung Association and the Sault Athletics Track Club.
Richardson said the course has also been altered to alleviate concerns some of the competitors had in past years. He said the half-marathon course will start from the pavilion and work its way through the locks area and down Queen, just past the golf course, and back to the pavilion.
The five-kilometre course will stretch from the pavilion, through the locks area and back to the Bondar while the 10-kilometre course will run from the pavilion, through the locks area and down Queen to Bellevue Park and back.
"We moved the course last year and brought it downtown (from Algoma's Watertower Inn) to make it more visible and viable."