Ian Boughton is a Man of Many Hats

When we asked Ian Boughton why he got involved with the Manitoba Marathon he said, “I have no idea, I hate everything about running except the beer at the end – how did I get involved in a marathon…!?” We may not be sure how he joined our team either, but he has become one of our most key volunteers on race day. Coordinator of our Communications Centre and Chair of our Medical Committee, Ian is pretty busy meeting and planning starting in the winter and moving all the way to race day. Thank you Ian for your extreme dedication to the Marathon and all of the experience and dedication you give to our operations. We couldn’t do what we do without you, and we will always have a beer in the fridge with your name on it.

An emergency manager for the Province of Manitoba with Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization, Ian coordinates the province’s response to major emergencies and disasters (such as flood, pipeline explosions and train derailments). He is also the regulator for the 9-1-1 system in the province, and lead advisor for technical projects and issues that touch on emergency management.

A man with a variety of personal interests, Ian is an amazing cook (making his partner’s coworkers and kid’s friends jealous with his creations), likes to fix computers and cars and is working to create a self-automated indoor garden. In his “spare time” he may get to enjoy a whiskey or even sleep. If you ever have the pleasure of meeting Ian he will have many stories to tell you about his past days with the Canadian Navy, living out in the woods for weeks on end with only his trusty backpack, flying planes and driving fast cars.

When did you first start volunteering with Manitoba Marathon and what initially got you involved?

I’m pretty sure it was a combination of blackmail and bribery from people I work with back in 2014, though it feels like I’ve been involved a lot longer. I was also promised a never-ending supply of coffee (and I’m holding you to it!!!) – I’m pretty easily bribed like that.

Looking back, I was initially asked to take the first aid side of the Communications Centre. Thinking it was a good opportunity to apply my background and get involved in an awesome volunteer organization, I forgot to say “no” to the request. Somehow this has morphed into chairing the Medical Committee meetings with Dr. Anthony Morham, and working with Chris Lunney to better integrate other volunteer teams in an effort to make everything run a little bit smoother.

What job do you do on race day? What do you particularly enjoy about that position?

On race day I am the communications center director, and oversee all of the communications and activity coordination for the race. This includes volunteer requests for supplies or equipment, tracking runner locations, calls for medical assistance, weather conditions, and coordinating volunteer groups and first responders from the city. Honestly, it’s the easiest part of my efforts, even if it also means trying to get Laurie Penton (our Operations Manager) to stay in the communications centre so that we can find him. What I like most about this position is watching the months, and years, of planning and refinement actually play out. My goal is to one day make the system run smoothly enough that I can just sit back and drink that coffee that I was promised.

What motivates you to stay involved?

Being part of something that’s bigger than me, and seeing the eagerness on the faces of so many of the medical volunteers at Saturday team briefing is a big part of it. It’s also an incredible opportunity to apply my professional background and training to make every year run a little bit smoother and be more enjoyable for everyone. With the help of Chris Lunney we’ve started streamlining other areas of the Marathon to better integrate the other volunteer groups, and it’s really exciting to see it take form. It also helps that I’ve made a lot of friends over the years.

Do you have a great memory from a race day to share?

Honestly race week is always a blur of activity for me, but one of my best race memories is probably from 2016 and having to call Environment Canada’s Storm Centre at 6 AM to find out if the lightening was going to move out of Winnipeg, and letting Rachel know we *should* be able to have a Marathon this year. That said, I always look forward to that moment, usually around 5pm, when everything is packed back up and the team can relax and celebrate another successful marathon.

What do you think is the most important skill that you have gained volunteering with the Marathon?

Patience, and working with volunteers. Learning how to better keep people motivated and enjoy their experience enough that they willingly come back year after year to volunteer with us when we all have differing motivations and goals, has been an incredible learning opportunity for me.

What is the most important advice you could give to new volunteers with the Marathon?

To be open to new experiences and ways of doing things; be willing to learn as much as you can from those around you, try new roles, or get involved in things you might not have in the past. You really never know where it will take you. Leading up to the race, the day of, and for a surprisingly long time afterwards, the Marathon has an incredible number of dedicated volunteers that the race depends on. Knowing how your role, and those around you impacts every other aspect of the event and the runner’s experience really exemplifies that there are no small roles.

What do you wish other people knew about the Manitoba Marathon and/or the Manitoba Marathon Foundation?

How much planning, preparation, coordination, and dedication it takes to successfully build and run an event like this. During race day, between runners, spectators, and volunteers, we are one of the largest events in the province.

How has your volunteer work influenced other areas of your life?

I’ve made a lot of friendships and a significant number of professional contacts which I otherwise never would have, which has gotten me involved in a wide range of opportunities and opened a few doors.


United Way Winnipeg