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

iRun to challenge my perceived limitations Cassandra Williams, Ontario

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

iRun because it has saved my life John Marshall, Alberta

iRun all the livelong day Pierre Saint-Laurent, Quťbec

iRun away from the abyss Charlene Thomas, Ontario

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

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

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

iRun because itís cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter, Alberta

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 to eat Maureen Tritscher, Alberta

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

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

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

iRun to stay ahead of the weight gainMyra Abstreiter, Alberta

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

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

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

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

iRun because it makes me feel powerful Sarah Kallaghan, Alberta

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

iRun but not enoughMichael Shaw, New Westminister, BC

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

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

iRun because i love to Mirella Petriello, Ontario

iRun to inspire my kids to tryGlen Johnston, Nunavut

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

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

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

iRun to unleash my inner athleteAdelle Densham, Avonmore, ON

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

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe, British Columbia

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

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe, British Columbia

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

iRun for the individual pursuit Robert Pelletier, New Brunswick

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

iRun for the fresh air and adrenalin Charlyn McGregor, Saskatchewan

iRun because food tastes better afterwards Patrick Houston, Alberta

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

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

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

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

iRun because running is like breathing to Stephanie McEvoy, Ontario

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew, Ontario

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

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

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

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

iRun because walking is too slow Barry Knapp, Ontario

iRun for me! Judi Wearing, Saskatchewan

iRun so I can eat ice cream Sandy Bolan, Ontario

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

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

iRun to prove to them that iCan Catherine Smith, Manitoba

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

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

iRun because my heart tells me to William Martin, Manitoba

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

iRun because it sure beats the bus Robin Robbins, Alberta

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

iRun to feel great Kathryn Rachar, Saskatchewan

iRun because I canít dance Mario Javier, Ontario

iRun for overall wellbeingTrish McCourt, Halifax, NS

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

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

iRun to satisfy the irresistible urge Tim Nixon, British Columbia

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

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

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

iRun for meKiza Francis, Ottawa,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 because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie, Ontario

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

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

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

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

iRun to kickstart my day Sharon Strueby, Saskatchewan

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

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

iRun to someday win the race Lindy Dunlop, Yukon

iRun because iLoves my man Beverly Huang, Alberta

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

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

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

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

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

iRun because endorphins are freeCassandra Chouinard, Ontario

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

iRun therefore I amDuncan Walsh, Nottingham, UK

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

iRun because there is no finish line Claire Kilgour, Ontario

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

iRun because otherwise Iím grumpy Alexandre Charest, Quebec

iRun because endorphins are free Cassandra Chouinard, Ontario

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie, Ontario

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

iRun slowly!Jason Hoffman, Manitoba

iRun because it makes me whole Denis Ladouceur, Quebec

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

iRun to inspire my children! Wendy Bowen, Manitoba

iRun because not everyone can Olivia Harvey, New Brunswick

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

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

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

iRun because itís fun when itís done Sue Matte, Ontario

iRun slowly! Jason Hoffman, Manitoba

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

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew, Ontario

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

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

iRun because I liveGeorges Schneller, Laval, QC

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

iRun because I love the solitude Janene Tailleur, British Columbia

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

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

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

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Workout Wednesday

My Best Running Race
 

September 2012

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Why I Run: a survivor runs to the limit

Running tests our limits and offers deep rewards

For a long time, running has been a way of testing the limits for reality television star and philanthropist Ethan Zohn. But more recently, it’s also become an important factor in his personal battle against cancer.

After a six-year career in professional soccer in the U.S. and Africa, Zohn returned home to New York City more than a decade ago and decided to audition for Survivor “as a joke.” He ended up winning the third season and used his prize money to start a charity called Grassroot Soccer, which educates children in Africa about AIDS prevention.

But something else happened when he was stranded with other Survivor contestants in Africa, setting the tone for his future adventures.

“You are mentally, physically, spiritually, socially, environmentally just abandoned,” he says. “No food, no water, no showers, no razors, nothing. You’re just out there in the middle of nowhere and then you have to perform at the highest level in these challenges which are pretty physically demanding.

 “It was that point I thought, ‘This is pretty cool. I’m doing alright. I like the way I feel right now, pushing the limit.’”

So he decided to stretch himself some more. He entered the Eco Challenge, a 10-day endurance race. To raise awareness for Grassroot Soccer, he dribbled a soccer ball from Boston to Washington, travelling 25 to 30 kilometres a day for about three months.

Next, Zohn decided he would try the New York City Marathon in 2009. He says he’d always wanted to do a marathon, largely because his father, who passed away from cancer when Zohn was a teenager, had been a runner.

“He ran the Boston Marathon, the New York City Marathon. So I’d always wanted to follow in his footsteps.”

But partway through his training, he was diagnosed with a rare form of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. As a milestone for his recovery, Zohn immediately set his sights on running New York the following year.

“I’d be sitting up there in my hospital room which overlooks First Avenue, which is right where the marathon runs. I was looking out the window each morning, thinking I’m going to run up that road without having to go into the hospital for a check-up.

“It was a real motivation for me. It kept me focused during a really horrible time in my life.”

When he was released from hospital, Zohn says, he couldn’t walk one block without being winded. In April, he jogged for one minute and then walked for five.

“It was nothing. It was so deflating as an athlete. On the other hand those little milestones made you feel so good about yourself. And I could finally have control over something that’s completely uncontrollable going on in my body.”

He gradually increased his mileage until he was running five kilometres and then 10. In November 2010, nine months after he received a stem-cell transplant, he ran the New York City marathon.

“I just worked myself up to be able to run that marathon and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” he says.

“The marathon was such a joy for so many different reasons. One, my dad ran it. Two, I was healthy enough to run it. Three, my charity, Grassroots Soccer.”

Zohn led a team of sixty runners in New York that raised $220,000 for the programs in Africa. “So it was just this unbelievable day in my life. Every step I took I was stomping on cancer.”

But he didn’t completely trample the disease. As Zohn prepared to run New York again last year, he discovered the cancer had returned.

This time, however, he was put on an experimental drug that allowed him to continue running. He completed the marathon, raising more money for his charity and even guiding a visually impaired runner through the race. He followed that by running the half-marathon at Disney World in January, when I had the chance to meet him.

Even as he recovers, Zohn continues to focus on building Grassroots Soccer, which already has helped more than half a million African children. He wants to get to one million graduates by 2016, and he’s looking for more people to join his team and run in events like New York and Boston in the next year.

Several months after another stem-cell transplant, Zohn’s recovery is going well and he says running is a big part of it.

“Having been so fit going into this process has helped me significantly. It was such a huge help being fit going into this situation. It just solidifies how important it is to be in good shape to eat well to exercise to keep your mind healthy.”


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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