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iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brain Marie-Claude Gregoire, Nova Scotia

iRun because I never thought I would be able toGary Morris, Winnipeg, MB

iRun to eat more, especially sweet potatoe fries Joanna Skomra, Ontario

iRun because my heart tells me to William Martin, Manitoba

iRun to satisfy the irresistible urge Tim Nixon, British Columbia

iRun because endorphins are free Cassandra Chouinard, Ontario

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou, British Columbia

iRun to unleash my inner athleteAdelle Densham, Avonmore, ON

iRun because it makes me a better person, a better wife, a better mother and a better friendNathalie Joncas-Caissie, St-Antoine, NB

iRun away from the negative and towards the positive Teri Lepard, Alberta

iRun because it's cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter, Alberta

iRun because I am not as clumsy I thought I was Hanna Baer, Quebec

iRun because running is like breathing to Stephanie McEvoy, Ontario

iRun to challenge myself, physically and mentallyKathleen Keenan, Brampton, ON

iRun because I like to be healthy Melanie Oickle, New Brunswick

iRun because itís like flying, only lower Glenn Johnson, Ontario

iRun because the wall is meant to be broken Jonathan Bird, Ontario

iRun because it's a great stress release Brooke McKenzie, Yukon

iRun to be free and enjoy our beautiful countryCheryl Carter, Clearwater , BC

iRun because it makes me feel good, allows me to spend time with my friends and gives me a feeling of accomplishmentHelen Kolodziejzyk, Calgary, AB

iRun for me! Judi Wearing, Saskatchewan

iRun for the individual pursuit Robert Pelletier, New Brunswick

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie, Ontario

iRun because I want to qualify for Boston and raise money for charities near and dear to my heartChristine Gracel, Calgary, AB

iRun because Iíve lost 80 lbs and running has become fun Cheryl Kelly, Ontario

iRun because it sure beats the bus Robin Robbins, Alberta

iRun because I canít dance Mario Javier, Ontario

iRun because of the peace and strength it brings meMichelle Jordan, Ottawa, ON

iRun because i love to Mirella Petriello, Ontario

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe, British Columbia

iRun so I donít say never ever again Linda Klaric, Manitoba

iRun to kickstart my day Sharon Strueby, Saskatchewan

iRun because I cannot say no to a second slice of chocolate cakeEmily Shandruk, Vancouver, BC

iRun but not enoughMichael Shaw, New Westminister, BC

iRun away from the abyss Charlene Thomas, Ontario

iRun to prove to myself I canLesley McGougan, Brampton, ON

iRun because it reminds me of how strong I can be Monique Lavoie, Ontario

iRun all the livelong day Pierre Saint-Laurent, Quťbec

iRun because I want to live to be 100! Colette DeJean, Ontario

iRun because walking is too slow Barry Knapp, Ontario

iRun because pecan pie, french fries and beer are chasing meTeresa Sterling, Ottawa , ON

iRun for the challenge and to remember to fully live Pascale Synnott, Quťbec

iRun because I love the solitude Janene Tailleur, British Columbia

iRun so I can eat ice cream Sandy Bolan, Ontario

iRun and run, and run, and run, and nobody can stop me Andrei Lucaciu, Ontario

iRun because it gets my husband out there Tricia LaLonde, Alberta

iRun because it’s in meMichael Foley, Stittsville, ON

iRun because itís a great way to see the world Sherry Mahoney, British Columbia

iRun to correct years of sedentary living! Mike Scott, Ontario

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe, British Columbia

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew, Ontario

iRun because itís better than almost everything else Nathan Carey, Ontario

iRun for my heart, so it runs for me! Cathy Brzoza, British Columbia

iRun because it cleans up my life, because I drink more water, sleep better and eat healthier foodsRobin McIntyre, Ottawa, ON

iRun because there is no finish line Claire Kilgour, Ontario

iRun to stay ahead of the weight gainMyra Abstreiter, Alberta

iRun because it makes me feel powerfulCarlene Paquette, Carp, ON

iRun to get to know myself, my strength and my spirit Lisa Groulx, Ontario

iRun because it makes me feel powerful Sarah Kallaghan, Alberta

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sons Keith Bradbury, Newfoundland

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie, Ontario

iRun for health, i Run for life Pat Cheung, British Columbia

iRun to feel great Kathryn Rachar, Saskatchewan

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn't Heidi Abbey-Der, Saskatchewan

iRun so that I can live longer and stronger Derek MacPhail, Ontario

iRun because itís fun when itís done Sue Matte, Ontario

iRun because I love the sense of accomplishment Amber Moase, Nova Scotia

iRun for the moment when both feet are off the ground Catherine Anderson, British Columbia

iRun because not everyone can Olivia Harvey, New Brunswick

iRun because people around me inspire mePina Bevilacqua, Caledon, ON

iRun to stay fit and release those running endorphinsLiliana Plava, Calgary, AB

iRun because it makes me whole Denis Ladouceur, Quebec

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every kmSteph Mansell, Quebec

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brainMarie-Claude Gregoire, Nova Scotia

iRun because it has saved my life John Marshall, Alberta

iRun for the fresh air and adrenalin Charlyn McGregor, Saskatchewan

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldnít Peter Cicalo, Ontario

iRun because I liveGeorges Schneller, Laval, QC

iRun for the cool t-shirts! Pina Bevilacqua, Ontario

iRun therefore I amDuncan Walsh, Nottingham, UK

iRun because somebody once told me I couldnít Heidi Abbey-Der, Saskatchewan

iRun slowly! Jason Hoffman, Manitoba

iRun because endorphins are freeCassandra Chouinard, Ontario

iRun because it helps me see things more clearly Jennifer Pitts, Ontario

iRun whenever I feel the need to escape Iona Hillis, Ontario

iRun because I need it to soothe the soul, keep me in shape and for overall wellbeingBeth Neil, Lombardy, ON

iRun so my daughters know that they can, too Shelley Kirkpatrick, New Brunswick

iRun for the challenge to go faster and farther Steven Matejka, Alberta

iRun to challenge my perceived limitations Cassandra Williams, Ontario

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew, Ontario

iRun because all the ladies are chasing my sexy runner’s bodyChris Baker, Etobicoke, ON

iRun to maintain a strong physical and mental state Tammy Rainville, Ontario

iRun see where my feet will take me todayMegan Dolinskas, New York

iRun to challenge my mind, body and soul Sonia Mendes, Ontario

iRun because it gives my day a boost of energy Sara Campbell, Nova Scotia

iRun because it reminds me that I am capable of so much more than I have doneJames Sauve, Ottawa, ON

iRun because I can and I’m gratefulTerry SanCartier, Gatineau, QC

iRun to my happy place and some days itís very Doreen May, Alberta

iRun slowly!Jason Hoffman, Manitoba

iRun to someday win the race Lindy Dunlop, Yukon

iRun because iLoves my man Beverly Huang, Alberta

iRun to inspire my kids to tryGlen Johnston, Nunavut

iRun because otherwise Iím grumpy Alexandre Charest, Quebec

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou, British Columbia

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every km Steph Mansell, Quebec

iRun because I get foot rubs afterward Kate Howerton, British Columbia

iRun to inspire my children! Wendy Bowen, Manitoba

iRun because when I run I feel most aliveMeghan Lynch, Ottawa, ON

iRun for overall wellbeingTrish McCourt, Halifax, NS

iRun to eat Maureen Tritscher, Alberta

iRun to prove to them that iCan Catherine Smith, Manitoba

iRun because food tastes better afterwards Patrick Houston, Alberta

iRun for meKiza Francis, Ottawa,ON

iRun because itís cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter, Alberta

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn't Peter Cicalo, Ontario

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sonsKeith Bradbury, Newfoundland

iRun because I want to be a role model for our six kids Catherine Empey, British Columbia

iRun because it's better than almost everything else Nathan Carey, Ontario

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Workout Wednesday

My Best Running Race
 

July 2012

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missing-medal_400x300.jpg

Why I Run: The missing medal

From my very first half marathon in 2003, all the way up to the Goofy at Disney World earlier this year, I’ve kept the medals from every single race I’ve run, except one.

I have dozens of them. Big and small, fancy and simple, from marathons, half marathons, triathlons and other runs. They’re all in a very nice display case my wife assembled for me at Christmas last year.

I’m not particularly sentimental and I don’t have a lot of keepsakes. But that was a special gift: my whole running career, summarized in a glass box.

Yet the one medal that is probably the most special, the one for which I worked harder than any other, is missing from that display.

On the running bucket list I created last year, I said I wanted to raise $50,000 with one run. Before I knew it, I was training for the Ottawa Marathon and pledging to raise that sum for medical research at the Ottawa Hospital.

The first time I ran a marathon and raised money for charity, I was more worried about whether I would finish the race that hit my modest financial goal. This time it was the other way around. The most I’d ever raised before was $10,000 and that had seemed like a lot of money. This time, I wasn’t sure whether I’d even come close. A few friends even raised their eyebrows and wished me luck.

Thanks to some generous friends and radio listeners, I got off to a good start. But one week before the race, I still had $17,000 to go.

I put on a big push, emailed everyone I had ever known, asked for help on my radio show, offered up prizes to donors. With three days to go, donations had jumped to just over $49,000.

I gave an update on the air and a few more gifts came in. Then my producer, Tom Woodward (who took up running in his 50s and has earned a few medals of his own) answered a call from a listener named Richard Weitzel.

Mr. Weitzel said he was almost 90 and was suffering from terminal cancer. He wanted to make sure I met my goal and he asked Tom how far I was from the target.

“Six hundred and twenty-eight dollars,” Tom said.

“I’ll write you a cheque for that right now,” said Mr. Weitzel.

“That’s a lot of money,” Tom said.

“Well, I’ve been given a lot in my life.”

His cheque put us over the top. By the day of the race, we had raised more than $56,000.

While I was running the marathon, I thought about the many rewards I’ve received from running, and in this case I’m not talking about medals. One of the greatest gifts with which I’ve been blessed is being able to witness the truly selfless generosity of so many people, especially Mr. Weitzel.

A week after the race, I paid him a visit at his home in Ottawa. We had a great chat. He told me about his cancer and that he was grateful for the loving care of the doctors and nurses and the folks at Veterans Affairs (he served in the RCAF in World War II).

He said he wasn’t strong enough for an operation and that the treatments had ended. The doctors couldn’t help him anymore.

“But it could be worse,” he said.

I was amazed by his perspective and his graciousness. I thanked him for donating $628 to get me to $50,000. I told him how he had inspired me and so many others with his kindness.

And then I gave him my medal from the marathon. He seemed quite touched by the gesture and wore it proudly.

Three weeks later, Dick Weitzel passed away. His family put the marathon medal next to him at the funeral home. His son pointed out the word “finisher” in large print on the ribbon.

I’d never made the connection before, but it was very appropriate. Mr. Weitzel was the finisher that got me to my goal. And that’s why I thought he deserved the medal more than I did.

 


If you like the “Why I Run” column, you’ll love the book!  Drawing on more than five years of writing about running in newspaper columns, magazine features and blog postings, Mark Sutcliffe chronicles a journey that begins with a guy looking for a bit of exercise and evolves into running as a way of life. Read more about Why I Run here, or order your copy from the iRunGEAR store!

 

 
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