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Picton man soars to victory in 15th County Marathon

Matthew Bird Loreto, of Picton, first-place finisher of the full marathon, said running is always his favourite thing to do. He also stays active teaching spin classes, playing soccer, football and volleyball.

Story and photos by Sarah Law
For the first time in its 15-year history, the annual County Marathon saw a Picton resident bring in the win.

Matthew Bird Loreto defeated last year’s winner, John Bauer of Hamilton, with a time of 2:44:53.1. Bauer came in with a time of 2:49:43.6, followed by Corey Turnbull of Smith Falls, in 3:01:14.3.

John Bauer, second-place finisher of the full marathon, said he has done the County Marathon three times now, and has done seven marathons and one trail marathon in his lifetime.

“He was going to win either way,” Bauer said of Bird Loreto. “He trained really hard over the summer, so I’ve got to give it to him. Nothing I could have done today would have meant that I’d beat him.”

Despite Bird Loreto’s success, he said running isn’t always his favourite thing to do.

“You gotta keep in shape and you gotta stay active and I can run, so I do it while I still can,” he said. “There’s definitely something during a race when the endorphins start going but I don’t particularly look forward to pushing my muscles that hard.”

Bird Loreto said he has been running for most of his life and spent the last three months training consistently and preparing for the mental aspect of this race.

When asked what advice he would give to marathon hopefuls, he said anyone who puts in the training can complete one.

“I’m not saying this to be inspiring or anything; it’s true: anybody can do a marathon,” he said.

Amanda Knegje, first-place female finisher of the full marathon, said she is constantly training for marathons throughout the year and likes how running “frees your mind.”

The first-place female finisher was Amanda Knegje of Richmond Hill, who completed the race in 3:23:58.0. She was followed by Julie Bates of Inverary, who finished in 3:28:26.6 and Ashley Manning of Sarnia, in 3:29:58.3.

Knegje said she felt “awesome” after her race.

“This is one of my favourite races. It’s small and the people are really, really kind,” she said. “There’s a lot of support, so it’s great. It was a great race.”

She said she started running about 20 years ago to improve her health.

“I was a smoker and I wasn’t really healthy and I just wanted a switch, so I started running because it was super easy and it didn’t require a gym pass,” she said.

Julie Bates, second-place female finisher of the full marathon, said she did not go into the race with a target time but instead just followed the pace bunny.

Bates said her favourite thing about the race was the support of the spectators and fellow athletes.

“I think (it was) the atmosphere; everyone cheering (us) on, and then the pace bunny was there with encouragement, so it was a really nice experience,” she said.

Manning said she surprised herself with her race results and had not expected to do so well. She said she likes how running allows her to clear her mind.

“It’s just an escape. It’s just a time to relax and get in tune with my thoughts,” she said.

Manning said she completed her first marathon last October but collapsed at the 38-kilometre mark. In this race, she said she beat last year’s time by 35 minutes.

There were 119 participants in the full marathon; 41 women and 78 men. The half marathon (21.1 kilometres) was the more popular event with 303 runners; 187 women and 116 men. There were also 28 teams who took part in a relay challenge, where each teammate ran a segment of the full 42.2 kilometre marathon distance. Men and women were placed into separate scoring categories.

Brian Byrne won the ReMax Quinte half marathon.

The ReMax Quinte half marathon was won by Brian Byrne of London, in 1:19:42.3. In second place was Kevin Dunbar of Kingston, in 1:22:09.5, followed by Alex Coffin of Saint John, New Brunswick in 1:23:56.3. There were 303 runners – 187 women and 116 men.

The top female finisher of the half marathon was Julie Basiliadis of Prescott

The top female finisher of the half marathon was Julie Basiliadis of Prescott, Ontario in a time of 1:31:18.9. She was followed by Amy McIntyre of Woodville, Ontario in 1:37:03.4, and Diana Chard of Belleville, Ontario in 1:38:09.0.

Tim Johnson, one of the event organizers, said there were about 650 participants across all three races. He described the layout of the course, which began in Wellington and then took the runners through Bloomfield, Sandbanks and then to Picton.

“I think a lot of what makes it unique here is the fact that we’re a small marathon,” said Johnson. “It’s a full road closure, which means there’s no traffic, so the runners really get to relax. They enjoy the beauty of the fall colours in the county and it’s a fun run for them.”

Monica Anderson, one of the volunteers, estimated there were about 75 people helping with the event.

“I’ve done many races in the past, so it’s fun to be on the other side of it and help out all the other runners in our community,” she said.

“We are a small spot, a small town, and it’s wonderful just to see our county people coming out but also joining people from other parts of the province and even all over the country,” said Anderson.

Team Walsh of Belleville, placed first in the hospital foundation team challenge, with a time of 3:09:10.7. Its members were Jeff, Liam, Anna, Aden and Curtis Walsh.

Team Walsh – Jeff, Liam, Aden, Anna and Curtis – won the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation Team Challenge race. The Speedy DJs ended in second while the Liar Liar Legs on Fire team raced to third spot.

Team Batawa members Ann-Marie Brady, Brandi Hollinger and Chantal Faubert Roy finished sixth in the hospital foundation team challenge.

Runners raised $2,792.81 for the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation.

Twenty-eight teams participated in the fundraiser for the hospital foundation presenting $2,792.81 at the awards ceremony.

The full race results can be accessed here.

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