A horse, disco shoe, and on-course beer helped make a marathon like no other

CALGARY, May 27, 2024. Some people might think that big running races and marathons are all the same. But to that, Servus Calgary Marathon said “hold my beer.” Literally. This year’s organizers partnered a local craft brewery and offered a beer aid station at their 2024 event. But that wasn’t the only unexpected thing at this year’s event. Here are seven things that set Servus Calgary Marathon apart from other marathons around the world.

1. Keeping everyone hydrated – with beer!

Servus Calgary Marathon’s newest sponsor certainly helped liven the atmosphere! One for the Road set up a most unique race course hydration station just before the finish line featuring its non-alcoholic beer to runners, walkers and rollers while they raced! Having whet everyone’s appetite, they gave away 10,000 cans at their finish-line beer garden. A 12ft tall digital beer marked the way and was very popular for post-race photos!

2. Follow that horse!

Most marathon runners are led out on the course by a bike or car, but most marathons aren’t held in cities as comfortable with their Western heritage as Calgary. This year, helping runners navigate the course’s early turns were two well-trained horses, Bandit and Cash ridden by Calgary Stampede Ranch Girls Katie Connoley and Chelsey Yundt. When asked if they were caught by any runners, the horses answered “neigh.”

3. Diamonds are a runner’s best friend

Servus Calgary Marathon this year celebrated its 60th year – its diamond anniversary. To celebrate, all runners, walkers and rollers received two ‘diamantés’ inset into their medal. It really takes that finish-line bling to a whole new level, especially while coming through a digital arch with diamonds falling from the sky. Not only that, but Calgary Jewellery surprised the inspirational leader of the top fundraising team with two lab-grown diamond earrings and a necklace to match!

4. Giant ASICS Novablast 4 Disco Shoe

If the shoe fits… actually, this one can’t be worn. Not easily, anyway. To celebrate the 60th anniversary, Run Calgary commissioned this giant disco shoe to pay homage to their shoe partner ASICS. This kick (singular) was a hit with athletes in their post-race photos, and spectacular once the sun finally showed itself on race day.

5. Hoop skirts, moccasins and feathers

Servus Calgary Marathon regularly works with partners who promote running in communities that haven’t historically been represented in the running community. Organizers proudly worked with Indigenous Runners YEG, a group of runners from different First Nations, who are “passionate about running for healing and truth, in prayer and in ceremony.” Fourteen runners participated across multiple events, some of whom were dressed in traditional and cultural clothing. After meeting Verna Volker at Running USA in Orlando, Verna also joined in the festivities as a special invited guest and representing Native Women Running.

“We belong in these spaces. We’ve always belonged. I believe that by reclaiming the use of our traditional land through health and movement, we reclaim our future,” said run crew organizer, Anita Cardinal-Stewart.

6. Winning is winning 

To further promote running to people who’ve often been excluded, Servus Calgary Marathon started a non-binary race category with a cash prize. Any athlete who met the elite qualifying standards won prizes equal to that of the women’s and men’s winner. Want more pride in running? Check out Run Calgary’s Love is Love Mile race as part of the Calgary Pride.

7. Diaper Dash

The tiniest participants in this year’s running festival crawled, toddled and sometimes went backwards in a thrilling 42.2 ft race for those 24 months and younger. Wearing literal race bibs, wee ones raced in front of hundreds of cheering family, friends and onlookers, who celebrated every kid’s achievement (and were treated to more than a few laughs).


Race organizers are tight lipped about what’s in store for 2025, but they promise more inclusion, innovation and fun to come.

For more information about the Servus Calgary Marathon, visit www.calgarymarathon.com.