William Shakespeare was much, much more of a writer than a runner, if Alan Long’s imitation was any indication.
Long, director of marketing and development for Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, was short on style as he set the pace for three Saskatoon Road Runners on the festival site last week.
The event was to announce the Saskatoon Road Runners Association & Friends $100,000 gift to the Staging the Future Campaign. The campaign has hit the $2-million mark in its quest to raise $3.5 million. Included in the plan is a trail on the riverbank.
That caught the eye of the Road Runners, who have donated to various causes that are important to runners and the citizens of the city. High on that list has been Meewasin Valley Authority projects.
“There are a lot of things going with this project that we really liked,” said Peter Goode, president of the Saskatoon Road Runners Association. “It seemed complementary to what we have been doing with Meewasin. Meewasin, the City of Saskatoon and things like Shakespeare all combined are something that’s improving life for runners, walkers and just the people of Saskatoon, so it’s kind of a no-brainer for us.”
While there are trails on the west side of the Shakespeare site, Goode said having one with a river view was appealing.
“The river, it’s the lifeblood of this city almost. We run this river and its trails constantly. It’s not just the Road Runners; it’s everybody. It’s a special experience. Anything that is going to supplement that and help it, the better it is.”
Another selling point was having access to winterized washrooms on the Shakespeare site, he said. Water fountains will be welcomed as well.
“Water fountains and bathrooms and runners all kind of combine. All we need now is a coffee shop. That is another one of our loves, by the way,” he said with a laugh.
Will Brooks, artistic director of Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, was grateful for the donation.
“They have an amazing track record of supporting Saskatoon as a community,” he said. “As a running group they tend to focus on pathways and things by the riverbank.
“They are fairly quiet about it, but they have done a ton of really beautiful projects around the city working with the Meewasin Valley Authority. When they have such a strong history of community support, it’s no surprise that they have come to the table yet again.”
Brooks said in meetings with various stakeholders, the message was loud and clear that runners, walkers and cyclists would like to have a trail with a river view.
“And that’s something we have been able to accommodate. A lot of what we have done is really trying to listen to our community and be able to incorporate the things that make it a useable space for them.”
Brooks said the improvement on the site is long overdue.
“This is one of most beautiful riverbank spots in the city and at the same time, for the last 35 years, it one of the spots where you can’t run the trail right beside the riverbank. That’s always been such a shame.”
Construction on the Shakespeare site will begin this fall. Among the amenities will be an amphitheatre, three permanent buildings and a state-of-the-art lighting system.
Fear not, the amphitheatre will be covered with a tent during the festival which runs this summer from July 3 to Aug. 18.