Well, race day came. I ran. And I've got the T-shirt to prove it.
I didn't break any personal records on the five-kilometre route of the seventh annual Sudbury Rocks Race, Run or Walk for Diabetes Celebrity Challenge, but I sure had a great time on the course.
As for Northern Life's press deadline on Monday, some $31,000 in pledges had been tabulated, with more counting to go, and more pledges still to be collected. The event goal was $100,000.
With a small video camera mounted on my head, I took the opportunity to chat with people mid-race about why they were taking part. There was no shortage of those — I hardly made a dent in the more than 2,000 participants.
I did, however, run into Chloe Campeau on Sunday morning. About two years ago, I sat down with Chloe and her mom, Dana, to talk about why they were taking part in Sudbury Rocks. Chloe, who is now nine years old, has Type 1 Diabetes. She's made quite the mark on the race — Team Chloe, all matching in light blue T-shirts, represented more than 70 of the participants, some as young as two years old.
"(The support) is very overwhelming," Dana said. "I can't put into words what this day means for our family. It's pretty unbelievable."
Not to mention the crew raised more than $1,000 for the Canadian Diabetes Association.
After five years of doing the one-kilometre fun run, Chloe said she's ready to move up to the five-km distance next year.
Quite a few of the people to whom I spoke during the race had somehow been affected by diabetes, and that's why they were participating. They were running in memory of a lost loved one, or as a way to take action against the disease continuing to run its course through their families.
While Type 1 diabetes in not preventable, Type 2 diabetes is heavily linked to lifestyle. Up to 58 per cent of cases can be prevented through exercise, healthy eating and maintaining a health weight. Type 2 represents about 90 per cent of all cases of diabetes.
Chloe didn't have a choice in the matter. She was diagnosed at four years of age, and she now relies on an insulin pump to keep her blood sugars regulated. She's only nine, but she's driven to do what she can to help researchers find a cure. Shouldn't that be inspiration enough for the rest of us to do what we can to prevent Type 2?
Those who hadn't been personally affected by diabetes told me they were running for their own health. Actually, one woman said her reason for participating was selfish — she had a fitness goal she wanted to achieve.
Making your fitness a priority is anything but selfish. The time you're taking to exercise now will give you a solid return on your investment down the road. What's selfish about wanting to be around for your family and friends as long as possible?
I finished the race in 31:01, which put me in fifth out of 10 celebrities. Jeff Harrington of CTV took the fastest celebrity title this year after completing the race in a blistering 21:03.
My coworker, Jenny Jelen, was out there as well. It was her first time doing a race, and she sure did a bang-up job. She came in right behind me at 32:43. Over the past two years I've known Jenny, she's been pretty opposed to running. The fact that she took the plunge to sign up for this race, and more importantly, show up for the race, was a big deal, and I'm proud of her for doing it.
"It sure wasn’t pretty, and it sure wasn’t fast, but it was certainly an experience," she told me. "As I approached the finish line, the cheering crowd lined up along the fence made me feel like a champ ... and the kids blowing by me made me realize how much more training I’ll have to do for next year.”
As a first-time racer, it's hard not to get caught up in the excitement of race day, whether it be the adrenaline of running or walking with hundreds of other people or feeling that extra surge when the hundreds of volunteers cheer you on along the way. Heck, I've done quite a few races now and still get caught up in that excitement.
“A few times along the course, I thought about giving up," Jenny said. "But the volunteers, clapping and shaking their noisemakers, made it hard to stop.
"With about 500 meters to go, one woman said ‘Don’t give up — you’re almost there.’ Just when I thought I couldn’t take another step, her encouragement helped remind me that the worst was over."
Those volunteers made the race possible. Thank you for being there for all of us along the way, providing a drink of water or Gatorade, or an extra boost with your continuous encouragement. And to all the officers lining the streets, thanks for making sure we were all safe.
I spent my whole race asking everybody else why they were participating, but I didn't really ever share my own reason.
Despite the prevalence of the disease — more than nine million Canadians are living with diabetes or prediabetes — it hasn't affected anybody in my circle of family and friends.
I could say my reason's selfish — it makes me feel great when I push my body that way — but I'd rather say it's to share my passion for running, and health, with others. There's nothing more satisfying than somebody lacing up their runners after many years of gathering dust, or stepping out to run for the first time, because they were inspired by another runner, be it me or someone else. The fact is, they got off their butts and took control of their health. That gets two thumbs up in my book.
I'm proud of everybody who took part in the Sudbury Rocks Race, Run or Walk for Diabetes on Mother's Day. Whether you were taking part for your first time or reaching a new goal on the course, congratulations on making it to the finish line.
Laurel Myers is the sports and lifestyle editor at Northern Life.
Posted by Laurel Myers