By: Alana Bonner
I love to explore new places and am always eager to add another province, state or even country to the list of places I’ve raced. Over the past year, I’ve raced in six different states and two different provinces. I even have some friends who have the lofty goal of running a race in all 50 states and all 10 provinces (plus 3 territories!) as a unique and fun challenge.
But what about the province I live in? Have I actually seen everything it has to offer?
Much to my own surprise, what I’ve come to love the most are those events that allow me to discover a new town or city in my very own province. How many of us can truly say we’ve thoroughly explored the province we call home? So that’s my challenge: to race in as many towns in Québec as possible! And I challenge you to start doing the same in your own provinces as well!
Before I started running in mid-2009, I’d seen very little of Québec apart from a close, 25km radius around home. Now that I think about it, I really knew embarrassingly little about the geography, landscape, culture, industries, beauty and wonderful people that make up my province. My lack of familiarity with Québec even extended to the city in which I went to University and now work full-time: Montréal. I was the worst tour guide for friends from out of town as I knew more about those cities which I’d visited on vacations (such as Paris, London and New York) than I did about the city I spend most of my time in! Running, thankfully, has changed all that and more!
Running has changed my life in so many positive ways. I could write 10 pages on what it has done for my self-confidence, health, and happiness. And 100 more pages on all the amazing lifelong friends I’ve made from all different backgrounds, age groups, and areas in Québec, Canada, the United States and abroad. I am so very grateful for the bonds I’ve formed, the connections I’ve made, and the miles I’ve run alongside these many great athletes and people I am proud to call my “running family”! Beyond that amazing human component, what I value the most is the opportunity running has given me to broaden and create my self-identity as a proud Québécoise!
I have gained a huge amount of pride and admiration for Québec through racing all over its map and I am confident you can do the same in the province you live in! There’s no better way to explore a new town than on foot. Travelling to and participating in a race is a perfect way to do just that! All this to say, sometimes exploring what is right around you is just as exciting and rewarding as venturing farther afield!
The carefully tabulated list of cities in Québec in which I’ve raced has a current total of 59. From Gatineau to Shawinigan, Val Cartier to Yamachiche, Ange-Gardien to Saint-Donat, running has put endless miles of racing in my legs and unforgettable memories in my heart! Where in Québec will my 60th city be? I don’t know yet but wherever it is, I can’t wait to explore it while running!