Runners are at the ready as race season begins to return to normal with the Cape to Cabot 20K set to go in-person in October.
Registration for the gruelling race from Cape Spear to Signal Hill opened on Sunday, and race director Guy Beazley said about 250 people had already signed up as of Monday afternoon.
The race is capped at 500 participants. Beazley said those who are up to the challenge should register as soon as possible, as he expects it to sell out.
Last year the race was run virtually. Beazley said it's exciting to offer an in-person event once again, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused disruptions to most organized events for the last 16 months.
"Last year was virtual, and it's just not the same. It's great to run with like-minded people and it's a social event as much as anything else," he said.
"The virtual event last year went over quite well. We had 478 registered."
Beazley said interest is pouring in from outside of the province as well, including runners in the United States who are hoping to be able to make the trip this fall.
In keeping in line with public health restrictions, he said, there will be a physically distanced start this year, if required in October. The race is a check-time event, Beazley said, so it won't matter where runners start in the pack.
Ed Durnford, a longtime runner and member of Athletics Northeast Running Club, told CBC Radio's CrossTalk on Monday it's his favourite race to run.
"You've got the bagpipes, and the people cheering you on and the bands. All those things are really nice," he said.
"And the challenge of all those hills. That climb up to Signal Hill is pretty special. Very enjoyable race."
Durnford said 20 kilometres on this course — which winds through St. John's on twisting roads from Cape Spear all the way to the steep Signal Hill — sounds daunting, but it makes the challenge worthwhile.
For competitive runners, he said, it's promoted as the "toughest race in eastern North America."
"If you run it hard, it can live up to that. So if you're a competitive runner, keep that in mind," he said.
"I think it's two weeks before the Tely 10 this year, so I'm hoping to do it anyway. But it requires similar-type recovery that a marathon would."
The Paradise Running Club is preparing to host its annual Five & Dime race in September. President Lori Dalton said it's the first in-person event the club has been able to organize in two years.
She said the club has been able to keep busy through virtual events, and as public health restrictions eased up members have been able to have group runs three days a week with social distancing.
"Everybody's still running, finding different things to train for. The most important thing is just getting out," Dalton said.
"We're very excited that the race season has started up."