On September 24th, I participated in a unique event, the Sears Great Canadian Run. This was a fundraiser for the Hospital for Sick Children and national initiatives across Canada supporting the research and treatment of kids cancer. Our intrepid team of 6, Team Momentum, ran 131 km that day from Vaughan to Blue Mountain and in the process raised over $6800.
The run was set up as a relay, with 18 exchange points along the route with stages varying in length from 4 to 12 km. Teams were anywhere from 4 to 20 people and could assign the legs any way they saw fit. A solo 101 km route was also available. Similar runs were done in Whistler, BC and Ottawa.
For our team, kid’s cancer is a cause close to our hearts. One team member, my cousin, survived a sarcoma at the tender age of 3. Another team member lost her nephew to cancer at age 3. Through pub nights, a garage sale, charity photo sessions and generous friends and family we were able to exceed our fundraising goal and make a difference.
As for the run itself, what an event! Even though it was the first year, it was very well organized and went smoothly. The runs were extraordinarily scenic through the hills of Caledon and along the shores of Georgian Bay. The weather cooperated (it was almost too hot by mid-day!) and the atmosphere and mood of the other runners and volunteers was electric.
The night before, my sister and I as well as another team member and our driver for the day, opted to stay up at Blue Mountain. I had rented a lovely townhouse for the family, that way they were all settled in and able to take advantage of the village and all it has to offer during the day, waiting for our evening arrival. It may have been the best option for the kids but to get back to Vaughan for 6:30 am meant only a few hours sleep for us, which obviously isn’t ideal when running 20 to 30 km over the course of a day. We did manage but I do know my lack of sleep was a major contributor to my mid-day crash and malaise. Fortunately, a little rest, hydration and fuel during my down time help perk me back up.
The experience and ability of our team varied widely and so did the amount each runner completed. However, we finished the 131 km in about 13 hours and 20 minutes, well below what we had originally anticipated. The finish line was in the heart of the village of Blue Mountain. I had the honour of running the last solo leg which was along the gravel Georgian Trail and local roads heading into Blue Mountain. I ran during the fading light of the day and into the darkness. Even though I was exhausted, adrenaline carried me through. It was pure magic running quietly through the woods knowing we were about to complete this challenge and help make a difference. I saw three deer in a clearing and was so grateful for my family’s health, my health and the ability to run and experience this that it made me misty. I met the rest of our team just outside the village and together we ran the last leg and crossed the finish line where a fabulous crowd cheered us in.
The after party, hosted by the affable Frank Ferragine of City TV was great with lots of prize and inspirational speeches. I must say though, the food was sorely lacking, but getting a free beer from Steam Whistle Brewery made up for it (kinda).
This was truly a memorable event and one our team is sure to do again. In fact, we are contemplating doing the Whistler event next year. I would urge anyone, from seasoned marathoners to non-runners to get involved. I promise you won’t regret it. Check out www.therun.ca for more information.