Hosted by Susan Benson in Grand Manan Island, in the Bay of Fundy, this year’s Virtual iRun Santa 5k will take place on Sunday, December 1st. Here’s why Susan runs and why she believes in engaging and encouraging every runner.
A community of 2,300, Grand Manan Island is a small island in the Bay of Fundy. While I was born in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) my family moved here in 1978.
We have a small ferry that travels back and forth to the mainland, which takes an hour and a half each way. But we do not need to travel to the mainland for work or school etc. Everything is here. One school, one grocery store, one bank, one hospital (although babies are born on the mainland)
We do not have traffic lights, fast food, movie theatres, and only one main road which means that to train for a full marathon we have to run up the island and back down to get our mileage. As a result of being so isolated, virtual running is a great way to still feel like we are accomplishing something and we still get great bling! Over the years a few of us from the running community have signed up for a virtual run to do together for various reasons, New Years, World Women’s Day and Christmas in July.
I decided to plan and host a Mud Run for our local Rotary Festival in 2016 just for fun and it was a huge success with about 80 participants. The following summer we had upwards of 130 participants. This year, we had a Grand Manan Race Weekend and added a 5k,10k and half marathon to the festival. Since then we have had a Lighthouse to Lighthouse Run (29km from one end of the island to the other) and a separate 5k and 10k trail run.
I decided to offer the Canada Day 5k to our community as part of our local Canada Day activities. We have a lot of visitors to the Island over the summer so it was a great way to reach a lot of people. We had 92 participate – 82 on Canada Day and 10 did it virtually for various reasons. I just enjoy seeing people involved and love to make things possible for people who would never otherwise get the opportunity. Travelling to the mainland to run is expensive, and although I love to travel and run, I also like to offer local running events to our community for those who cannot afford to travel or take the time to travel. Our Canada Day virtual brought out many families, which was so great to see. Young and old, running and walking together. It brings our community together.
When I learn about the Santa 5k, I included it on our Facebook running community page and had a great response. Running has changed my life. I have always been somewhat athletic, but didn’t start running until I was 47. I have a great group of running friends. We train, travel or run just for fun. I run for the social, I run for my health, I run for the beauty, I run for the community. I love running. And I love getting new people excited about running.
I am excited about the Santa 5k because I think it will be hilarious to see a bunch of Santa’s running down the road! It will certainly be the talk of the town ha ha. I also like that we can use the run as a fundraiser for our local food bank. We are asking each participant to either donate a food item or get some sponsors to help make Christmas better for some of our local less fortunate families. Every run brings out new runners and walkers. Hosting a run is such a simple thing to do to bring our island together and I love to bring opportunities like this one, to our little island.
To join Susan’s Virtual Santa 5k on Grand Manan Island email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.