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For Jeff Vogt, the starting line for two big passions in life – becoming an electrician and taking up running – began at Okanagan College.
Vogt, an alumni of the Electrical program, became an avid runner after first trying the Okanagan College half marathon relay in 2009. He has returned to the race each year to be a part of the feel-good event that raises scholarship funds to support student bursaries.
For Vogt, the relay race was the catalyst for his journey to become a runner.
When friends asked him join their relay team for the race, which was only a week away, he thought they were joking. With encouragement from his team and a few practice runs that week, he agreed.
“My first reaction was that I can’t run in this race. I don’t run,” recalls Vogt. “I was so inexperienced, but I completed my relay leg. The race showed me that my fitness wasn’t where I wanted it to be and watching the half marathon finishers that day I saw what I could achieve.”
Inspired to make a change, Vogt immediately started running every other day to improve his fitness levels.
He quickly advanced to the longer distances the race offers – completing both the 10 K race as well as the half marathon distance. He joined the Kelowna Running Club, where he learned proper training techniques to increase performance and reduce injury. In 2014 he placed third overall in the half marathon distance and came back in 2015 to take a silver medal.
After completing two marathons in 2016, Vogt is looking forward to returning to campus for the half marathon in 2017.
“Everyone has to start somewhere and the relay was my gateway to running, which has become a way of life for me. It’s a really accessible distance for people of different fitness levels and fun to be part of a team effort.”
This year’s race takes place Sunday, April 9 at the Kelowna campus and runners can choose from three different distances: Half Marathon (21.1 K), 10 K and Relay Race (21.1 K, divided by up to five runners.)
“I love to see runners like Jeff come back year after year,” says Race Director Christine Ulmer. “I was there the first year when he crossed the finish line and have watched him improve to become a contender in all of the distances. He is running fast but more importantly, he is having a great time and encouraging others to get involved – and that’s what this race is all about.”
Following their finish, runners join in the post-race festivities in the Centre for Learning. This year’s highlights include the awards ceremony, a candy bar and delicious creations made by the College’s Culinary and Pastry Arts students. Prize money will be presented to the top three runners in the male and female divisions of the Half Marathon.
To register, find out more about the course or to view entry fee deadlines, visit: www.okanagan.bc.ca/halfmarathon.