Mile News

Going to the roots of the Cambridge Classic Mile

June 01, 2018

The point now is for people to just come out and enjoy the music & camaraderie

By Bill Doucet, Cambridge Times

John Carson believes the entertainment has gone from running.

Twenty to 30 years ago, running events were just that, with bleachers full of rabid race fans invested in every race and the runners. Now, unless it’s an elite level meet, races are usually attended by family member, he contests.

Since 2004, however, Carson has been trying to change that trend with the Cambridge Classic Mile on the crushed clay track at Galt Collegiate Institute. Except for two out of the 15 years, the Classic Mile has gone from a who’s who in running meet for a year’s lease on a Mercedes-Benz, to more of an all around grassroots race.

Through the history of the Mile, there have always been school-aged races, but that’s now become the main selling point.

This year’s race is Friday, June 15, with online registration until June 12 at noon.

“Run for Life has always been about doing things from the grassroots up,” said Carson, the race director, who has been getting help locally while doing some set up from his home in Whitehorse, Yukon.

“Sure, we’ve had Olympians and professional runners on site, but the goal now is to create some magic for the younger races. Taking a bit of a page out of the Galt Skating Races playbook and try and create some fun and a vibe in the younger races.”

It’s easier to take that playbook when you basically get one of the writers, as Carson said Dave Schlei — who co-ordinates the skating races — has come on board to help recruit elementary school runners, while Speed River Track & Field Club coach Jeff Haller is assembling runners for the high school and university invitational races at the end of the night.

“We recruited a fantastic crew. You’ve got to bring on the best,” Carson said.

That crew also includes Nathan Brannen and Doug Consiglio, who he is hoping can recruit some NCAA runners for the race. While those athletes may not be pulled in this year, he wants to at least start the dialogue for the future.

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