Meet the man who made sure the Watford to Alvinston Road race was run

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Mathew King after crossing the finish line in Watford. He ran the annual road race by himself on the Victoria Long weekend, even though it had been cancelled.

Mathew King wasn’t about to let the streak be broken.

The Watford man has been among the hundreds of people running the Watford to Alvinston Road Race each Victoria Day weekend. He laced up every time he was home in between professional figure skating jobs.

The race is a local favourite partly because of the epic story of its beginnings. The first race was held in 1957, when two Warwick runners, Hylke VanderWal and Lorne Smith, discussed the idea of running from one community to another. In the very first race nine men ran; seven finished. By 2007 approximately 500 runners were involved in either the 16 km or the 8 km race. The race still draws several hundred people from across southern Ontario each Victoria Day weekend.

When organizers of the historic road race had to shut the 63rd annual event down because of the COVID-19 restrictions on crowd sizes, it appeared the streak would be broken. But King, didn’t let that happen. In the cold and the rain, he ran the route by himself – with a little encouragement from family members parked in cars along Highway 79. It took him 1:23:45.

“It was a good day to get out and run, even if the weather wasn’t the best. The weather was just another challenge for me, I love a challenge,” he says.

And King was glad to keep the streak alive. “It feels great, I had no idea that this would have been the first time in a long time that someone hasn’t run the race or the race hasn’t happened . I just wanted to run, and I hope the race will be back again next year. I will be there ready to run for sure.”