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Video: Sudbury Rocks!!! race participants take over local streets

From a marathon to a one-kilometre kids’ event, Sudbury Rocks!!! has something for the whole family

From elite athletes taking part in a 42-kilometre marathon to kids doing a one-kilometre run, the Sudbury Rocks!! Race, Run or Walk event May 26 featured participants of all ages and abilities.

“People love this event,” said organizer Shelley Walushka. “They look forward to it every year. It really sort of kicks off the running and athletic season here in Sudbury. It really is a Sudbury tradition that’s been going on for 19 years.”

Sudbury Rocks!! features a marathon walk, marathon, marathon relay, a half-marathon run/walk, one-kilometre kids’ race, a 10-kilometre run/walk and a five-kilometre run/walk. 

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Participants in the five-kilometre race take off during the Sudbury Rocks!! Race, Run or Walk event May 26. Heidi Ulrichsen/Sudbury.com
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Participants in the five-kilometre event at the Sudbury Rocks!! Race, Run or Walk event May 26. Heidi Ulrichsen/Sudbury.com
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Participants in the celebrity event at the Sudbury Rocks!! Race, Run or Walk event May 26 From left are Sudbury Five head coach Logan Stutz, Pure Country host Bryan Cooper, CTV journalist Ian Campbell, Faheema Velji-Shears from Ontario Mine Rescue and Sudbury MPP Jamie West. Heidi Ulrichsen/Sudbury.com
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A big group from Johnny's Transportation took part in the five-kilometre event during the Sudbury Rocks!! Race, Run or Walk event May 26. Heidi Ulrichsen/Sudbury.com

More than 1,600 people had registered to participate, several hundred more than last year. “So we're super grateful that Sudbury and the surrounding areas have come out,” said Walushka.

The event supports the Northern Cancer Foundation, which does fundraising to support local, ground-breaking cancer research and to purchase vital, life-saving equipment. 

Speaking during the race, Walunshka said more than $70,000 had already been raised, and she was hoping the final tally would be closer to $100,000.

“By participating you're giving back not only to the community here in Sudbury, but you're supporting your own personal health,” Walushka said. “You know, running is a lifelong activity, whether you're a walker, runner, doing a one-kilometre or a marathon, there's something for everybody to promote healthy living.”

One of the marathoners was Const. Michael Rouleau of the Greater Sudbury Police Service, who ran the race in full police gear, which added up to about 25 extra pounds. He also wore his police boots instead of running shoes, and told Sudbury.com following the race that his feet took a beating.

"It was certainly difficult, but I just reminded myself that pain pales in comparison to those who are who are going through their own (cancer) battle and journey," he said. 

Rouleau is no stranger to running, as the 30-year-old is an ultra-marathoner, although this is actually his first sanctioned road marathon.

He raised more than $9,400 for the Northern Cancer Foundation through pledges from family, friends and colleagues. If you'd like to make a donation, you can do so here.

Cancer is something that's personal for Rouleau, as his mom Laura is a cancer survivor, and his aunt, Lisette, was also recently diagnosed with cancer, and it has unfortunately spread to her brain.

His aunt actually drove from her home in Oakville to Sudbury as a surprise to cheer Rouleau on during the marathon. "It was a really touching moment," he said. "I just cried on the side of the road."

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One of the marathoners was Const. Michael Rouleau of the Greater Sudbury Police Service, who ran the race in full police gear. Heidi Ulrichsen/Sudbury.com

More typical of the participants was Samantha Kuula and her three children. Eight-year-old Rebecca actually did two events on Sunday - the kids’ one-kilometre and the five-kilometre race.

Kuula, who’s the vice-president of the Northern Cancer Foundation board, also took part in the five-kilometre event - although she couldn’t keep up with Rebecca’s speediness - pushing her two toddlers, Cecily and Oliver, in a stroller.

“It's a fantastic community event that everybody in the entire family can participate in,” she said. “So we really, really love this event and coming every year.”

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Participants in the one-kilometre kids' run warm up during the Sudbury Rocks!! Race, Run or Walk event May 26. In the centre in the green shorts is Rebecca Lafortune. Heidi Ulrichsen/Sudbury.com
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Samantha Kuula with daughter Rebecca Lafortune, 8. Heidi Ulrichsen/Sudbury.com

Vincent Bolt did the 10-kilometre run on May 26. He said he’s taken part in Sudbury Rocks!! before, but in the five-kilometre event, although he’s done 10-kilometre distances in triathlons. The cause has personal resonance for him.

“I've lost a lot of people that I love to cancer, and it does mean a lot to do this and raise the money for cancer treatment,” Bolt said. “I have a tattoo on my forearm of my Nonna and Nonno, and they both had cancer, and so I will be thinking about them as I run.”

Heidi Ulrichsen is a journalist with Sudbury.com.


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