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One of the island’s oldest,
and toughest, races

Harvest Festival 25K to be held Saturday, Aug. 19

By Andrew Wagstaff
Maritime Runner
Aug. 15, 2017

KENSINGTON, P.E.I. – If you can run the Harvest 25K, then you can run a marathon.
That’s the word around the Prince Edward Island running community about one of the island’s oldest races. The 44th annual Kensington Harvest Festival 25K Road Race will take place on Saturday, Aug. 19.
“The Harvest 25K is a fairly rustic, bare bones race and the feedback that we’ve gotten from our runners is that that is a big part of the reason they run it,” said Darby McCormick, who took over the event as co-race director last year with Adrien Bernard.
The course is quite hilly, requiring a tremendous physical effort to get through, which has drawn the marathon comparisons over the years.

Alex Bain leads a pack of runners during last year’s Harvest Festival 25K in Kensington, P.E.I. The 44th annual race, one of the oldest in Prince Edward Island, will take place this year on Saturday, Aug. 19.

j. norman-bain photo

The event began in 1974. Eric Jessome, who was the manager of Community Gardens, and Morris Caseley, who was the Kensington and Area Recreation Association president, decided to host a road race as part of the Harvest Festival. They randomly picked a direction, drove 25K, and that spot became the starting line.
There were 12 runners in that first year.
It grew over the years, and was taken over by Ivan Gallant, who served as race director for two decades. Bernard and McCormick took over when Gallant stepped down last year.
“There was little interest from the running community, and there was a chance that the race would just stop,” said McCormick. “I grew up and still live just outside of Kensington, and want to keep the race going, so despite never having been a race director before and being very new to running, I volunteered to act as race director.”
Bernard had been active in the running community for several years, had been a race director before, and had run the Harvest 25K herself. Her offer to help out was quickly accepted.
“We had a great time organizing, and had a very successful race with 55 runners in 2016,” said McCormick.
The scenic route, known as “the killer course,” starts at the Old Church of Scotland on Route 225 in Stanchel, running west to Kinkora over some rolling hills, and then travels south onto Route 109, ending at the Community Gardens in Kensington.
The Malpeque Bay Credit Union has been the event’s major sponsor for the past several years, and the participation numbers have fluctuated.
“We still get a good turnout, but the numbers have definitely been decreasing over the past few years,” said McCormick.
The race has seen its share of impressive performances. The course records are held by Stan Chaisson, who ran it in 1:25:51 in 2007, and Jen Nicholson for the females, who ran it in 1:42:02 in 2008.
For more on the Harvest Festival 25K Road Race, visit the Facebook page here.