iRun for meKiza Francis, Ottawa,ON

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

iRun to eat Maureen Tritscher, Alberta

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

iRun because it gets my husband out there Tricia LaLonde, 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 I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie, Ontario

iRun because I liveGeorges Schneller, Laval, QC

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

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew, Ontario

iRun for the fresh air and adrenalin Charlyn McGregor, Saskatchewan

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

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe, British Columbia

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

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

iRun for overall wellbeingTrish McCourt, Halifax, NS

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

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

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

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

iRun all the livelong day Pierre Saint-Laurent, Quťbec

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

iRun to inspire my children! Wendy Bowen, Manitoba

iRun because endorphins are free Cassandra Chouinard, Ontario

iRun because there is no finish line Claire Kilgour, Ontario

iRun to unleash my inner athleteAdelle Densham, Avonmore, ON

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

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

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

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

iRun slowly!Jason Hoffman, Manitoba

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

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

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

iRun because i love to Mirella Petriello, Ontario

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

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie, Ontario

iRun because running is like breathing to Stephanie McEvoy, Ontario

iRun but not enoughMichael Shaw, New Westminister, BC

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

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

iRun because it has saved my life John Marshall, Alberta

iRun to feel great Kathryn Rachar, Saskatchewan

iRun because I love the solitude Janene Tailleur, British Columbia

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

iRun because otherwise Iím grumpy Alexandre Charest, Quebec

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

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

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

iRun to satisfy the irresistible urge Tim Nixon, British Columbia

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

iRun because my heart tells me to William Martin, Manitoba

iRun because itís cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter, Alberta

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

iRun to inspire my kids to tryGlen Johnston, Nunavut

iRun therefore I amDuncan Walsh, Nottingham, UK

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

iRun because it makes me whole Denis Ladouceur, Quebec

iRun because iLoves my man Beverly Huang, Alberta

iRun because I canít dance Mario Javier, Ontario

iRun to challenge my perceived limitations Cassandra Williams, Ontario

iRun for me! Judi Wearing, Saskatchewan

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

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

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

iRun to stay ahead of the weight gainMyra Abstreiter, Alberta

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

iRun to prove to them that iCan Catherine Smith, Manitoba

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

iRun so I can eat ice cream Sandy Bolan, Ontario

iRun because itís fun when itís done Sue Matte, Ontario

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

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew, Ontario

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

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 iEat Sherry Maligaspe, British Columbia

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

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

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

iRun away from the abyss Charlene Thomas, Ontario

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

iRun because walking is too slow Barry Knapp, Ontario

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

iRun because it makes me feel powerful Sarah Kallaghan, Alberta

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

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

iRun because food tastes better afterwards Patrick Houston, Alberta

iRun slowly! Jason Hoffman, Manitoba

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

iRun to someday win the race Lindy Dunlop, Yukon

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

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

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

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

iRun because endorphins are freeCassandra Chouinard, Ontario

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

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 because it sure beats the bus Robin Robbins, Alberta

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

iRun for the individual pursuit Robert Pelletier, New Brunswick

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

iRun to kickstart my day Sharon Strueby, Saskatchewan

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

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

iRun because not everyone can Olivia Harvey, New Brunswick

Cover photo from the current issue of iRun Magazine

Workout Wednesday

My Best Running Race

November 2012

Back to Table of Contents


Canada's Governor General

Advancing the cause of fitness

"iRun mostly for very selfish reasons. I just work better, function better and feel better and it’s good for my health."


In 1979, more than 30 years before he became Governor General of Canada, David Johnston was training to run his first marathon. He had made a pact with his neighbour in London, Ontario that they would run the Ottawa Marathon together in May.

About four weeks before the race, the phone rang. Johnston was asked to moderate the leaders’ debate for the federal election, a contest between Pierre Trudeau, Joe Clark and Ed Broadbent. He accepted, of course.

“Then I realized that the debate was on the Sunday night and we were to run the marathon on the Sunday (morning),” says Johnston.

The marathon and the debate were both in Ottawa, so at first Johnston figured he could still complete the two events. But at the last minute, he decided not to run the race.

“The day before I concluded that I should cancel out on the marathon,” he says. “I thought if I make a mistake during the debate and it becomes known that that morning I was out running for four hours they’d think what an arrogant guy. He was so filled with himself that he thought that he could run a marathon and then carry off this debate.”

His only regret was letting down his friend.

“And I felt so badly about it that we determined that we’d do it the next year and we did,” he says.

Since then, Johnston has run about 20 marathons and countless other races, including participating in the Terry Fox Run with his family more than 30 times.

Johnston says he started running as a hockey and football player when his coaches would make him run the stadium steps as a punishment. After university, he kept it up to stay in shape and his annual marathons – most of which he ran while living in Montreal – became a regular test of his fitness.

“It was just a check on staying in some kind of shape, that each year I kept myself in sufficient condition that I could do a marathon without doing enormous damage to my body,” he says.

There have been many benefits from running as well, including a shared interest with his family. Johnston’s wife Sharon is also a runner (she finished seventh out of 110 runners in her age group in the Army Run 5k in 2011) and they’ve passed on their enthusiasm to their five daughters, each of whom has completed at least one marathon.

Johnston has also seen the effects of running on his heavy workload.

“I actually write a lot of speeches running,” he says. “I’ve found running very helpful for that.”

Even before becoming Governor General, Johnston was giving almost a speech every day during his academic career.

“I’d begin with the question or the theme or the issue and I’d be turning it over in my mind and gradually the outline would appear and then some of the precise language would appear. And I’d often finish that and get into the shower and get to my desk or get to my dictating machine and get it down on paper or on tape just as soon as possible.”

Johnston says running has also helped him grapple with tough problems, including difficult decisions about people.

“You want to make them more thoughtfully and fairly. Having a chance to think them through is very good.”

When he and his family lived in Montreal, Johnston had a regular routine. He would leave his house at 6:45 in the morning and run to the top of Mount Royal.

“Then I would run down three blocks on cement stairs, and then back up and I’d do that three times, two steps at a time,” he says, “and come back and have my shower and feel great.

“Those hard moments, pulling myself up the side of a hill three times every morning, were very good training.”

Johnston figures the pounding on the cement steps probably contributed to osteoarthritis in his hips, which now limits his running. But at 71, he continues to do an hour of vigorous exercise almost every day and completed the Terry Fox Run and the Army Run 5k this fall.

He’s using the platform of his vice-regal role to advance the cause of fitness, making it one of the recurring themes in his speeches.

“It’s so clear that the benefits of an active physical life transcend into so many other parts of life, one’s intellectual capacity, one’s ability to deal with illness, one’s ability to deal with the stresses and strains of life.

“I believe that good health is such a precious gift that we have to ensure that we preserve and reinforce our health whenever we can.”

It’s a message that comes from the heart. Even though he’s completed many races, running has always been about the benefits of fitness and not the goal of crossing a finish line for Johnston.

“Most of all, there’s a real euphoria that comes from getting the circulation going and getting the adrenaline going and getting the endorphins functioning through the brain that just feel good.”

“I run for very selfish reasons” he says. “I just work better, function better, feel better and it’s good for my health.”

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