150Runners A Global Running Day Celebration: Why We Run

A Global Running Day Celebration: Why We Run

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By Karen Karnis

Since the 150 Runners issue of iRun came out, there’s been a lot of buzz. I have heard from a lot of people who have enjoyed the stories and found nuggets of motivation all over the place. 

Pulling the stories together for this issue is one of the hardest assignments I have ever done, but it was also one of the most rewarding. Since it’s Global Run Day, I thought I would share a bit of what I learned.

As I am sure most writers and editors would agree, holding someone’s story in your hands is always an honour and a privilege. But to take on that many at once was intense – I laughed, I cried; I had to walk away and take breaks.

Every story was wonderful, and I couldn’t possibly choose criteria to select the “top 150,” so I went with the first 150 we received. In reading the stories and exchanging emails with these runners, I got to meet some pretty incredible people. 

My task was much like I would imagine a diamond cutter’s to be: carefully chipping away at something that is already beautiful to get the size and clarity that is needed without destroying the core of it. To all of you that participated, thank you for trusting me with your diamonds – I sincerely hope that all of you feel that your voices and key messages are intact.

In 150 stories, there were literally hundreds of reasons to run – all as unique as the runners themselves. But despite their uniqueness, some common themes emerged.

We run for challenge

Walter Faion’s most magical running memory was the day he came from behind to win the Sudbury Marathon. At 70 years old, Murdock Hiscock continues to win awards at races. All of us run to be better than we were yesterday – and for the feeling of accomplishment that brings.

We run to find ourselves

Like Kevin Marchment, fighting his way back from alcoholism to the runner he used to be; Colleen Mahoney who runs to combat generalized anxiety disorder; John Doyle who took up running to cope with seasonal affective disorder; Carley Toye,  Andree-Anne Ouellet, Angela Maciocia and countless others who are always outrunning darkness. So many of us run for clarity, for confidence, or to quiet our minds.

We run to give back

Yves Desrosiers raises money for cancer treatment. JP Hernandez and the Justice League Runners raise funds for youth mental health. Tracy Shouldice raises funds for Team in Training, children’s hospitals, and mental health causes. John and Ryan Farrell raise money for Team Diabetes. Lee McCarron coaches people to support them in reaching their goals. Sylvie Michaud also shares her knowledge and experience as a coach. From saying the right thing to another runner in a race to making a donation when we register, every single one of us has used running as a way to give back.

We run to be strong

Like Nancy Girard who was paralyzed to her bed for six months and fought anxiety and depression; Like Marie-France Kenyon, Dayna Talsma, Jessica Burns, Charlotte Flewelling, Pierre Marcoux and more who ran their way back from accidents or surgeries. Like Lee Anne Cohen, Sheila Kohle, Roch Courcy, Mike Hsiao, Wendy Moore and so many more who started running to begin healthy weight loss journeys and never looked back. We all find strength in our sport.

We run to remember

Dominique Narcisse ran with her son until he was murdered in 2014; now she runs in his memory. Julie Drury runs to remember and cope with the loss of her young daughter. Susan Harvey first took up running to honour a friend who died of breast cancer. Scott Shafer tool up running to cope with a loss. So many of us use a kilometre, a race, or our training to remember someone and work through grief and loss.

We run for community

In the stories and my conversations with the authors, almost every single one of them mentioned the running community and friendships they have made along the way. We have all both contributed to – and benefitted from – this supportive, inspiring, amazing community. 

And in the end, that is what 150 Runners is all about. From the outside, running seems like a lonely sport, but we know better. We may run in our own heads, our own bodies, and for our own reasons, but have all found friendships, motivation, and support in this indescribable collective. 

To the 150 Runners: You have motivated, inspired, and moved a nation – and I can’t thank you enough.