Heather McRae: Race Directors Through the Decades

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Run Calgary is going beyond the timing data, finish line medals and social media posts to share meaningful stories of people impacted by the Calgary Marathon over the last six decades. In this Q&A series, we are tracking down those who have held the title ‘Race Director’ to hear what they remember, what they learned and where they are now.

Meet Heather McRae, Race Director of the Calgary Marathon from 1997 to 1999.

WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION TO RUN?

I was not a runner until I inherited the Race Director position for the Banff Calgary Road Race in my fund-development role at Theatre Calgary. I was so blown away by the passion of the volunteer race committee, that I joined the Calgary Roadrunners and fell in love with slow distance running and hill runs!

HOW DID YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THE ROLE OF RACE DIRECTOR OF THE CALGARY MARATHON?

My fundraising experience with Theatre Calgary and connections within Calgary Roadrunners made for a good transition to Race Director for what was then called Stampede Run-Off, which included the marathon, 10 km and 5 km events.

WHAT DID YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BEING THE RACE DIRECTOR OF THE CALGARY MARATHON?

The passionate, enthusiastic volunteer committee. The friends I made there became friends for life.

WHAT SURPRISED YOU MOST ABOUT THE ROLE?

The complexity of the work that the race committee volunteers took on, from course measurement to logistics to medical support. My mind was blown by the attention to detail and commitment to sport and community!

Heather McRae (left) photographed with a volunteer and Greg Marshall.

WHAT IS THE SINGLE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT FROM YOUR TIME AS RACE DIRECTOR?

We hosted the race finish in what was then called the Mewata Stadium. When the team was spiking a giant tent into the ground in the mid-field, we hit a water main, which resulted in the water being shut off for the entire field. Our good friends at The City of Calgary had our backs and rushed a water truck out to us on a Sunday morning so the race could start on-time.

That was the same weekend that we syphoned gas out of a police motorcycle because the start line generator didn’t have gas in it…events can be an adventure!

WHAT DID YOU TAKE FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE THERE THAT HAS HELPED YOU IN LIFE OR ROLES SINCE?

How to stay calm in the face of adversity, how to pivot, that there is always a solution to be found.

WHERE ARE YOU NOW AND WHAT DO YOU DO?

I am the Director Strategic Communications & Marketing at Calgary Downtown Association and work daily with downtown businesses, stakeholders, The City of Calgary, community organizers, artists, and students to build a better downtown.

ARE YOU STILL INVOLVED IN RUN?

Running has taken a back seat to speed walking the Douglas Fir trail with my dogs! The trail was a favourite for training before the flood damaged of 1988 and will always hold a warm place in my heart for the positive association with Calgary Road Runners!


Stay tuned for more Q&A insights from past Race Directors like Heather!

Do you know someone with a remarkable Calgary Marathon to share? Send us an email at marketing@calgarymarathon.com

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