With an extremely shaky hand, I raised my Starbucks cup up to my purple lips and let the warm liquid slide down my throat in hopes that it would soon spread to the rest of my body. My teeth were chattering, my clothes were dripping, and I was shivering through and through. I tried to make some idle chatter with Jeff and Jillian as we sat in the Starbucks, but my thoughts weren’t coherent nor were my motor skills functional. The day was over. Terry, I hope we did you proud. Today, a nation took a few steps to honour a young man who had a dream and moved millions.
It proved to be trying conditions for each runner in each province/territory who undertook the challenge of running a marathon through their respective cities to pay Tribute to Terry Fox to mark the anniversary of the Marathon of Hope. Eddy Nolan, the man who started this national movement, ran through the toughest conditions, with temperatures reaching -8 with the wind chill mixed with snow, rain, and ice pellets. In true west coast fashion, Vancouver saw cooler than normal temperatures of about 5 degrees, 10mm of rain, and high winds with max gusts up to 45kph.
The physical conditions of the day in Vancouver progressively got worse but the energy and support kept all of our spirits high. I know I sound like a broken record but I am absolutely humbled by the support I received and by my community. We started off the day with roughly 20 people, including a contingent from Field Hockey Canada, Thomas who ran the whole way with me last year and was looking to repeat this year, friends from my lululemon family, Dave Cressman from distance runwear, new friends I’ve made that believe in the cause, and close friends who are near and dear to my heart. The day started off with perfect running conditions and we made our first stop at distance runwear, where Dave left us to open his store, and we continued to City Hall. Councillor & Deputy Mayor Tony Tang came out and took a few photos with us, and commented at how surprised he was as to the number of runners we had. Wait til next year!
At City Hall, Field Hockey Canada bid us good-bye and we picked up a few more friends. We continued to our next planned stop – Rackets & Runners – where we were received with warm smiles. As we made our way to lululemon Oakridge, the rain started. A few drops at first. And then a few more. And then too many to count.
Making our way up Cambie to 41st, we were greeted with great enthusiasm and energy by the lululemon crew with signs and balloons. Another couple of people left us at this stop and we picked up another runner – Jeremy Hopwood. Our next stop was the Run Inn Kerrisdale, and then continued up 41st Avenue and then up Dunbar to our highest point of the day. With the rain starting to pick up even more, we were powering up the hill to enjoy the downhill to the Alma Running Room. At this point in the day, we decided to do as many photo ops inside the stores rather than outside. Temperatures had dropped to about 5 degrees and winds were picking up. From there, we made our stop at Forerunners, and then to LadySport, where we were met by enthusiastic staff and a smiling Phil, the store owner. Ashley Wiles, of Sole Girls, caught up with us at this stop and joined us as we made our trek up hill to lululemon Kitsilano.
What a fantastic greeting! Signs, smiles, snickers, and Gatorade! And a whole lot of love. We picked up a few more runners here to our next stop at The Right Shoe, where Rand – the store owner – met us. Then under and around the Burrard Bridge, and we were greeted by friends from the lululemon SSC. We tried to keep our stop short, as the conditions were getting to all of us. We said our good-byes, and then made our way over the Burrard Bridge and started around the Stanley Park seawall, where I knew the wind would be at its worst. It was definitely quiet on the seawall, aside from our small group. In the true spirit of Terry Fox though, we managed to pick up a random runner (Samir) part way around the seawall to join our group. At Lumberman’s Arch, I checked my watch and realized we were farther along than expected so we cut out a small section on the seawall and headed straight to the Denman Running Room. After that, we made our way up Robson to the lululemon Robson store, my home store. We started to recall how tough this hill was last year but still managed to support each other to the top. When we got to the store, it was all worth it – open arms, big hugs, large signs, and loud cheers. Personally, though, things were very much going downhill for me. I knew I was getting too cold and I also hadn’t fueled well for the day. But I was close. One final push.
Seven blocks (or so). And then finally, we saw him. Terry. What a sight for sore eyes. And, of course, a few of my amazing folks from the lululemon Robson store waiting for me. They are such troopers, waiting for us in the rain and telling US how great we were.
I am grateful to be so blessed with so many great people in my life. Today was a VERY tough day – I don’t remember ever being so cold during and after a run. But I can’t complain. Terry Fox ran 143 days straight – roughly a marathon a day. A DAY. And I am positive he ran in worse conditions than I did. He didn’t have tech shirts. He didn’t have shoes with proper cushioning or orthotics. He didn’t have a leg. But he had a vision, determination, and a beautiful heart. His legacy lives on.