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Mission possible: Companies perform ‘medal miracle’ for Servus Calgary Marathon

Mission possible: Companies perform ‘medal miracle’ for Servus Calgary Marathon

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s WestJet swooping in to save the day. If it wasn’t for the company, many runners would be going home without medals following Calgary’s annual Servus Marathon Sunday.

However, it wasn’t just the aviation company that made the mission possible.

In a news release Sunday, officials said it took the cooperation of hundreds of people from five organizations in three different time zones to get the medals from the hull of a ship waiting to be unloaded in the port of Vancouver, to Calgary’s Stampede Park in time for the event on May 29.

And it all came together just hours before the first runners crossed the finish line.

“I am so overwhelmed with gratitude, and finding it difficult to wrap my head around how many people, who have nothing to do with the race, went above and beyond to pull off this medal miracle,” Kirsten Fleming, the executive director of Run Calgary and the Servus Calgary Marathon, said.

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Participants of the annual running event were alerted on Tuesday that the medals might not arrive on time due to global shipping challenges, despite them being ordered “weeks earlier than normal.”

Officials noted the vessel carrying the medals had been ready to dock on April 8, but port backlogs forced the ship to circle for six weeks before finally reaching shore on May 21.

Global Container Terminals Canada told Run Calgary there was a less than one per cent chance the container holding the medals would be unloaded, clear customs and get en route to Calgary in time. But, that didn’t mean they wouldn’t try.

“It’s a complex system of partners that keeps supply chains moving and we’re only one piece,” Chris Ng, vice president of marketing and sales with GCT Canada, said.

“But once we knew what was happening and where the container was, we did everything in our control to make it happen.

“The vessel ops group strategically planned the unloading of this ship in a way to ensure it was prioritized, and everyone from the terminal VP to the team worked to get the container off early Saturday morning.”

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However, getting the product off the ship was just the first task in a long list of things that needed to get done to ensure the medals could be placed around the necks of runners just one day later.

Officials noted that following them being unloaded, Oregon-based broker Leslie Jordan and Vancouver-based truck company CTC worked together to move the medals through customs and a sorting facility.

The medals were taken through a sorting facility on Saturday afternoon, May 28, 2022.


The medals were taken through a sorting facility on Saturday afternoon, May 28, 2022.


Courtesy: Leslie Jordan

Next, the medals had to be transported from Vancouver to Calgary in less than 12 hours, and that would prove to be one of the most complicated hurdles as it would require a set of wings to make it in time.

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Enter WestJet.

“When the opportunity presented itself to help expedite the arrival of the Calgary Marathon medals, we wanted to do anything possible to ensure participants had medals to celebrate with at the finish line,” Morgan Bell, a WestJet spokesperson, said.

“Working alongside the Calgary Marathon team, our WestJet, WestJet cargo and airport teams sprung into action to ensure this very important shipment made its arrival to Calgary just in time for race day.”

Fleming, John Bird, the operations director, and Sarah Barton, a WestJet employee who is also a long-time volunteer for the Calgary Marathon, met the delayed WestJet flight just after midnight on Sunday morning and were able to deliver the 7,140 medals to the finish line just six hours before the start of the race.

“It really overwhelms me to think how many people really went out of their way when it would’ve been so simple to say no,” Fleming said.

“At every turn, they were like, ‘How do we help? Let’s try to make this happen.’ It was down to the wire.

“It was a great first social contact to share with our runners this morning when we got here.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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