2013 News

Dec 16, 2013

Canada Running Series announces new prize money for 2014 Western events, and commitment to Canadian and British Columbian athletes

December 16, 2013 — Vancouver, BC. Canada Running Series is pleased to announce an increase in prize monies for competitive runners at its three Western events in 2014, with a strong emphasis on encouraging the development of Canadian and British Columbian athletes. Prizing at the Vancouver Spring Run Off 8K [March 23], Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon & 5K [June 22], and Vancouver Eastside 10K [Sept 13] will total $25,000 plus event record bonuses — the largest in the 15 year history of CRS' Vancouver races.

Each of the Western events will see an increase in the prize money being awarded, and an increase in the depth of awards. The top 5 Canadian runners will be rewarded at each race, plus the top 5 British Columbian runners. The distribution of the prize money for each event can be found on the canadarunningseries.com website.

Canada Running Series has already earned a strong reputation for bringing the very best in Canadian distance running to town, from Vancouver to Toronto to Montreal, building excitement in the running community and giving top Canadians the chance to shine and earn vital funds to support their training. In 2012, Olympians Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis both used the Scotiabank Vancouver Half as their final tune up before the London Olympic Marathon. The 2013 races brought Lanni Marchant, Krista DuChene, Rob Watson and Kate Van Buskirk to Vancouver, all of whom represented Canada at the World Championships in Moscow in August. Then Olympian Dylan Wykes won the Eastside 10K in his first race back after London 2012.

“We really want to support an increase in depth and competitiveness among the local British Columbian runners,” said Clifton Cunningham, CRS Western Race Director “while continuing to support the top level national runners, which we attract to our events. East-West rivalries and exciting head-to-head competition are always great in Canada. And such competition and rewards will help to raise the bar, we hope, on the road to the Pan Am Games in Toronto 2015, and then Rio.”

The Canada Running Series, kicks of 2014 with the Vancouver Spring Run-Off 8km run, taking place in Stanley Park on Sunday, March 23rd.

About Canada Running Series:

Canada Running Series, prides itself on organizing great races that benefit communities, the sport and on being industry leader in innovation for Canada. In 2013 the Series attracted 56,000 runners over 8 events and raised $5.8 million for 300 community charities.

Registration is now open with event details at www.canadarunningseries.com for the 2014 running season.

Nov 18, 2013

Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon & 5k earns Silver Certification from the Council for Responsible Sport for Social and Environmental Initiatives

Working with Green Chair Recycling, organizers achieve 97.8 percent waste diversion rate

silver certification from Council for Responsible Sport

November 18, 2013 — Portland, OR: The 2013 Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon and 5k has earned Silver level certification from the Council for Responsible Sport for efforts to reduce the event's environmental footprint and increase its social impact. Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon is a Canada Running Series event.

“The Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon's list of accomplishments is long. A 98 percent waste diversion rate is truly outstanding, and this event's commitment to supporting the missions of numerous charities while promoting health and fitness, stimulating the local economy and galvanizing the community is great to see” said Keith Peters, executive director of the Council for Responsible Sport.

Among the many initiatives implemented and tracked throughout the 2013 event, there were several that were especially notable:

SVHM 2013

“At Canada Running Series, we've always been committed to producing world-class events that showcase the cities we run in and benefit our community. We are very proud of the green initiatives our Vancouver team has brought forward,” said Alan Brookes, Canada Running Series' National Race Director “and we are honoured to be the first Silver Certified event in Canada!”

“When looking at the environmental footprint of our running races, we decided there was a lot more we could do to make our events more environmentally sustainable and help preserve the natural beauty of our city,” said Tom Skinner, Canada Running Series' Western Operations Director. “Achieving Silver Certification was a team effort involving our entire crew, great partners like Green Chair Recycling, fantastic guidance from the Council, as well as a huge amount of support from all of our participants. The award is not only great recognition but an encouragement for us to move forward with, and build on our green-events initiatives”

The Council congratulates the Vancouver Half Marathon & 5k staff and the Canada Running Series for their accomplishments as well as their commitment to an ongoing process of planning, deliberate actions, measuring progress and continuous improvement.

About the Council for Responsible Sport:

Our vision is a world where responsibly produced sports events are the norm. Our mission is to provide objective, independent verification of the socially and environmentally responsible work event organizers are doing, and to actively support event organizers who strive to make a difference in their communities.

Our Certification program provides a comprehensive method for event directors to incorporate environmental and socially responsible initiatives into their events, while informing stakeholders about events that adhere to a rigorous set of standards. Certified events range in size from ParalympicsGB Training Camps held at the University of Bath in the UK, with some 150 athletes participating, to the AJC Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, Georgia, with 55,077 timed finishers. To date, 58 different events have achieved certification from the Council for Responsible Sport, serving over 786,000 athletes in the process.

The current version of the Council's Certification standards was developed by an outside working group of 18 sustainability experts and reviewed by a wide range of stakeholders. Certification is modeled after the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Green Building Rating System, which certifies buildings and materials according to resource conservation and energy efficiency criteria.


About Canada Running Series and the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon & 5k:

The Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon & 5K is part of the prestigious, 8-event Canada Running Series. The Series prides itself on organizing great races that benefit communities, and on being the industry leader in innovation for Canada. In 2013 the Series attracted almost 60,000 participants and raised more than $5.5 million for 280 mostly-local charities.

Registration is now open at www.CanadaRunningSeries.com for the 2014 running season, which kicks off on March 22nd in Vancouver, BC.

June 23, 2013

Record-breaking Year at the 15th Anniversary Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5K

Over $725,000 raised for charity through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge

Kip Kangogo wins the 2013 Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon Photo: Inge Johnson

VANCOUVER, BC (06/23/2013) — A record 7000 participants ran today in the 15th annual Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5K which raised a record $725,000 as of press time for 71 local charities through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge.

Under sunny skies elite runner and previous three time half marathon champion Kip Kangogo from Lethbridge, Alberta won the men's half marathon division with a time of 1:03:33. On Kip's heels until the 18 kilometre mark was second place finisher Robin Watson from Vancouver, BC who finished with a time of 1:04:28. Third place finisher was Kenyan Paul Kimugul with a time of 1:04:58.

Krista DuChene wins the 2013 Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon Photo: Inge Johnson

Elite runner Krista Duchene from Brantford Ontario finished ahead of strong competition and won the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5K in the women's half marathon division with an impressive time of 1:10:52. Krista finished in front of London Ontario's Lanni Marchant, who took second place with a time of 1:11:38 and Port Moody BC's Natasha Wodak who finished in third place with a time of 1:14:59.

"This was a remarkable day for Canadian runners with a record number of participants in both the half-marathon and five kilometre category," said Clifton Cunningham, Race Director, Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5K. "We're thrilled and so proud of not only our elite athletes, but also the some 7,000 participants that collectively raised a record-breaking amount for charity."

Honourary Chair of the Scotiabank Charity Challenge Mason Raymond and forward for the Vancouver Canucks was on site to congratulate participants of the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, who raised more than $725,000 for 71 charities as of press time. This total exceeds last year's total of $675,000. Scotiabank will award $5,000 each to the charity with the most runners, the charity that raises the highest dollar total and the charity with the highest amount of dollars raised per runner. Scotiabank will also donate $2,000 to the charity of the top individual fundraiser for a total of $17,000 in charity prizing.

Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon start Photo: Chris Relke

"Participants should be proud of their efforts that raised $725,000 through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge — a sum that breaks last year's total and exceeds this year's goal of $700,000," said Rob Wilkins, Vice-President, Downtown Vancouver/Northern B.C. District. "The Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5K is about more than just running, it's an event that is also committed to giving back to the community, and today success shows that this race just keeps getting bigger and better every year."

Race Day Results:

Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon Male:
1. Kip Kangogo, Lethbridge Alberta    1:03:33
2. Robin Watson, Vancouver, BC        1:04:28
3. Paul Kimugul, Kenya                1:04:58

Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon Female:

1. Krista Duchene, Brantford, Ontario 1:10:52
2. Lanni Marchant, London, Ontario    1:11:38
3. Natasha Wodak, Port Moody, BC      1:14:59

Scotiabank Vancouver 5K Male:
1. Julio Escamez, Vancouver, BC         17:33
2. Jackson Silvester-Lee, Surrey, BC    18:32
3. Stefan Biro, North Vancouver, BC     18:35

Scotiabank Vancouver 5K Female:

1. Noreen Mackey, Vancouver, BC         20:07
2. Lynn Kanuka, White Rock, BC          20:44
3. Elizabeth Froc, Langley, BC          21:41

For more highlights and complete race results, please visit: www.vancouverhalf.com.

To see a list of charities involved in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, click here.

About the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5K:

The Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5K is part of the prestigious Canada Running Series. As one of Vancouver's premier running events, the SVHM attracts more than 7,000 runners and walkers of all levels, including many elite athletes and visitors to the city. The Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5K took place on Sunday, June 23rd starting at 7:30am for the Half-Marathon and 9:30am for the 5K. For more information, please visit www.vancouverhalf.com.

About Scotiabank:

Scotiabank is committed to supporting the communities in which we live and work, both in Canada and abroad. Recognized as a leader internationally and among Canadian corporations for its charitable donations and philanthropic activities, Scotiabank has provided on average approximately $47 million annually to community causes around the world over the last 5 years. Visit us at www.scotiabank.com.

June 14, 2013 — BC Cancer Foundation

Running to Make a Difference

Linda Wong, Executive Director of the Canadian Education Forum and a veteran runner, is racing in the 2013 Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon in support of the BC Cancer Foundation.

Linda Wong

Linda Wong is on the fast track to make a difference. As the Executive Director of a start-up charity, she works tirelessly to integrate philanthropy into the learning experiences of students. And when Linda isn't in the office or talking to students, she leads running groups as a way to give back to her community.

On June 23rd, Linda will be combining her passion for running and philanthropy by racing in the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon in support of the BC Cancer Foundation. The avid runner has been touched by cancer through the death of her uncle. Her uncle had died from lung cancer when she was just sixteen, so her decision to participate in the 2013 Scotiabank Charity Challenge to raise money to improve care for cancer patients came naturally.

“My uncle's passing was my first experience dealing with the death of someone very close to me. He had always treated me like his own daughter and it was hard for me to see him struggling to live at the very end,” shares Linda. “It only makes sense that I support an organization that breaks down the barriers to finding cures so that no one has to suffer from this devastating disease anymore”.

As someone who champions community building and strengthening, Linda also sees her participation in the 2013 Scotiabank Charity Challenge and her support for the BC Cancer Foundation as another way of giving back to the community.

“The people I am surrounded by have given me so much. Through running, I have met great people who have encouraged me to do things I never imagined I could accomplish. I have gone from zero running experience to running ultra-marathons,” says Linda proudly. “Since then, I have made it a priority to give back to the community whenever I can”.

To support Linda Wong in her quest to help the BC Cancer Foundation fund leading-edge research that has a direct impact on improvements to cancer care for patients in British Columbia, please visit http://bit.ly/11DlVOS.

June 14, 2013 — Union Gospel Mission

Scotiabank runner beats the odds—from homeless and addicted to mentor, teacher and running group leader

Union Gospel Mission

Vancouver, BC — In 2011, when Scotiabank half-marathon runner, Brendan McLellan, was first introduced to the media, he was two years clean and sober, after being homeless, addicted and on a suicidal mission. Not long before gaining sobriety Brendan went on a 15-day, $12,000 sleepless drug-binge, which he had intended to complete with jumping off the Pattullo bridge. But God had other plans. Brendan found recovery (and running) and two years ago he ran the Scotiabank Half to help raise money for Union Gospel Mission, the organization he credits with saving him from the streets—and most likely from death.

Today, Brendan not only maintains his sobriety and works full-time, but he has become a teacher, mentor and leader to so many who struggle as he once did. He's also progressed from avid runner to marathoner and leads a running group every Wednesday.

“Brendan is one of the most determined people I know.” says Steve Fike, a friend from UGM. “We have been through a lot together over the past two years. Brendan is a true friend and an inspiration. He's taught me how to 'live life on life's terms' again—clean and sober!”

Brendan dedicates time each week to teach and facilitate classes for a well-known sobriety group. There he helps others with specific steps in their recovery. He is president of UGM's Alumni Association which exists to give back to others. They support those new in recovery, and offer service work at UGM and other places needing volunteer help. Brendan is also a sponsor to four men who are recovering from drugs and/or alcohol abuse.

“I work with a lot of guys that have relapsed, so my phone constantly rings off the hook,” he says, “but the investment is worth it. People were there and reached out to me when I was in my darkest place, and I want to be there for others. Now, life is absolutely fantastic. It just keeps getting better. I used to be so selfish. I've given that all up to God and my life is completely transformed.”

Brendan's passion and dedication for helping others led him to not only to facilitate in recovery, but also in athletics. He joined UGM's running group training program, where four days a weeks, different running group leaders take community members and staff on a run, jog or walk, helping them train for the Scotiabank 5K or half marathon. Brendan will run his third Scotiabank Half, raising money for UGM's life-changing programs for women and children—which offers afterschool care, mentorship, art therapy, shelter, summer camp and more.

An athlete as a teenager, Brendan discovered a love of running while in UGM's recovery program as he worked through the journey to stay clean and sober. He found it to be a perfect outlet for him, as well as an activity that brought a lot of healing.

“When I was out there in my addiction, I couldn't look people in the eye,” he says. “I thought they knew I was no good. But when I'd run the Sea Wall, I'd see other runners and they'd nod and say “hi” and I felt like I was a part of something. I felt accomplished. Now I run for me.”

As Brendan finds joy in sober living, faith, reconciled relationships and running, he finds even deeper joy, in giving back what he's learned to others.

“I'm sure there will be hard times again, but right now, it just keeps getting better and better,” says Brendan. “I have no complaints and I could be happier.”

UGM is still shy of its $50,000 fundraising goal this year, and could really use the public's help.

Join team UGM to walk or run the 5K or Half-Marathon or donate to someone who already is by visiting: www.ugm.ca/run.

To donate directly to a specific runner and to watch things change in real time visit: http://my.e2rm.com/TeamPage.aspx?teamID=361755&langPref=en-CA.

Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing the lives of men, women, and children for over 70 years. Through its 7 locations in Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides counseling, education, safe housing, and alcohol and drug recovery to those struggling with poverty, homelessness, and addiction. The heart of the mission is to demonstrate God's transforming love, ease the burden of the most vulnerable, rebuild the lives of the broken, and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. To find out more, visit www.ugm.ca.

Click here to read Brendan's full story

June 13, 2013 — Spinal Cord Injury BC

How one father with paraplegia got back on his feet

Dean Stoney

When Dean Stoney woke up in the hospital after a motorcycle accident and learned that he had paraplegia, he was stunned.

“When I first arrived [at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre], I was just getting my head around the fact that I would never be able to walk again. They told me that my likelihood of walking was thin to none.”

As the father of a nine-year-old son who loves camping, swimming, cycling and being outside, that prospect was hard to fathom.

Fortunately, Dean Stoney is a determined guy, and he decided to advantage of every opportunity he came across during his stay at GF Strong. That's how he discovered Spinal Cord Injury BC (SCI BC)'s weekly education sessions, run by SCI BC staff member Brad Jacobsen.

“The biggest benefit I received from Spinal Cord Injury BC at GF Strong were the Rehab Raps and all the different education sessions that they had on Tuesday afternoons with people from SCI BC sharing their experiences. It gave me a really good snapshot of what it would be like living outside the walls of GF. Dealing with things like transit, the medical complications you have to deal with on your own, and other stuff I hadn't even thought of,” says Dean.

Dean Stoney

One day, Dean participated in an education session led by Gerry Burns, an SCI BC peer member who has quadriplegia and who has travelled extensively using a wheelchair and his walker. “When I first met him, it was just after I had started using a walker and he told me about all the things that he was able to accomplish and do post-injury,” says Dean. “He had gone on so many adventures! It really opened my eyes to all the possibilities that exist out there.”

“That session is the one that really pushed me over the edge, and the first thing I did after I left GF strong is to get on a plane and fly to Carlsbad, California with my wife and son. We went to Lego Land and it was great,” says Dean. “It was something my son really needed after spending so much time traveling back and forth to see me at GF strong. He got to have me full-time.”

“I honestly think that if I hadn't been there for that one Spinal Cord Injury BC education session about travel with Gerry, I probably wouldn't have even tried,” say Dean. “I'm really grateful for that.”

Today, Dean is busy working full-time managing a mini-storage business, spending time with his family, and focusing on his recovery. And thanks to his tenacity and hard work, Dean has been on his feet since August. He still uses a wheelchair to play basketball and other adaptive sports, but he gets around on most days with his walker.

In fact, Dean is feeling so confident on his feet that he's even going to try walking the entire 5 km Scotiabank Charity Challenge on June 23rd. It will be the farthest he's walked since he was injured in October, 2011.

“The farthest I've pushed myself is 2.5km, and a couple weeks ago I was just at 1km,” says Dean.

“My speed hasn't changed, so I'm hoping I can do the 5km in about 1.5 hours.”

What's the secret to Dean's determination and success? It's a nugget of wisdom he heard during a business meeting, years ago: “One of the business people said to me, 'the easiest thing to do is nothing.' That really stuck with me. So whenever things start getting easy, I start to think that something is wrong, and I just keep pushing.”

June 13, 2013

Friendly Rivalry Renewed at Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon, by Paul Gains

As far as rivalries go Canada's leading female marathoners Krista Duchene and Lanni Marchant are on extremely good terms. No trash talking, no mud slinging. Cooperation up to a point.

In the absence of dedicated pacemakers the pair helped each other to personal bests at the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon which qualified them to represent Canada at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow later in the summer. But a major test of their preparedness comes June 23rd at the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon, a race that Duchene won a year ago in 1:14:03.

“When we ran in Rotterdam we had never even met until we got there,” Duchene reveals, “and we just clicked in that first race working together. Obviously, in the end, it's any person's race. But, as the distance gets longer your competition also becomes your ally.”

Duchene began her 2013 Canadian season with a hard fought and very surprising victory at the Harry's Spring Run Off 8km while Marchant won the Toronto Yonge Street 10k. Those events, as well as the SVHM, are part of the Canada Running Series.

They met again at the Ottawa 10k where Marchant placed 6th in 32:46 with Duchene 7th in 32:52.

“I am really pleased with the season,” the 29 year old Marchant admits. “I have been setting some good times and hitting the expectations that my coach and I had heading into the season. I couldn't be more happy.

“I guess I can compare to the buildup for the Rotterdam marathon. Before Rotterdam I didn't have any races and I didn't have anything to gage it off of. This buildup obviously I have been racing so I keep getting that little bit of encouragement that I am doing the right things because everything is going so well.”

Marchant competes for the London Western Track Club but practices law in Knoxville, Tennessee where she attended university. Under the guidance of coach Dave Mills she has been putting in more miles per week than ever, up to 110 miles in a week, usually spread over two daily runs. The only exception has been when she has traveled to her races. Squeezing in two runs has been a challenge on those occasions. Nevertheless, she is feeling fit.

“I am recovering well and I am ready to go the next day or two for a harder session,” she declares. “My body is responding well to training compared to training before Rotterdam. I am doing twice the mileage so I would say my body is holding up pretty well.”

A year ago she lined up for the Vancouver race but dropped out around three kilometres with pain in her foot. It turned out to be a stress fracture and she couldn't run a step until August. What a difference a year makes.

“Of course winning would be great,” Marchant says. “I think any of us at this level we line up with a win in mind. But, if I am second to Krista, and we both run reasonably fast times, I am still going to count that as a really good race in my books. Krista and I have such a good racing relationship that, like I said, if we can push each other so we both run really fast times, then I am not necessarily concerned about who crosses the line first.”

Although the course is certified by AIMS and by Athletics Canada, because of its net downhill, any records set in the race won't count.

“It would be great to go under 72 minutes,” Duchene, a native of Brantford, Ontario says. “Again I am not going to do anything silly to get any super fast time especially because, even if Lanni or I go under Tara Quinn-Smith's Canadian record it won't count for anything. I think it would be great if the two of us work together as a little trial run for Moscow.

“I think we are both in really great shape. Our times are nearly bang on. I think some people could see it as a showdown between the two of us, but I think we see it as an opportunity to work together and practice for the big day, which is August 10th.”

Marchant ran the half marathon distance in 1:12:17 on March 9th in Nashville while Duchene's personal best of 1:12:28 was achieved at the Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal (April 28), another Canada Running Series event.

As both maintain focus on the world championships, the first for each, they are approaching things calmly. At 36 years of age and the mother of three young children Duchene is not overly excited about running in such an important race.

“I am pretty calm with my faith and being just a little bit older. I never let my emotions get in the way. I am a fairly experienced marathoner now with nine,” Duchene says. “The travel is something I am not concerned about. It's like a business trip.

“As marathoners you really do put all your eggs in one basket with only running like two a year. I am looking for decent conditions but you can't control everything. Rarely do you have that perfect training with that perfect race date. I wouldn't say nerves or anxiety have anything to do with it. It's really about executing the plan that (coach) Rick (Mannen) and I put in place.”

Duchene has taken the unusual step of forgoing sweets until after the world championship race. On February 9th of this year she had a peanut butter parfait and swore off temptation even while dispensing cakes at a recent senior kindergarten school event.

“After running the marathon on the 10th, my husband and I are going to travel Europe on the way back,” she says with a laugh. “Our 12th anniversary is on the 11th so I am going to enjoy all sorts of foods in Europe but it's not going to taste as good as having that great race the day before.”

The Vancouver race will no doubt be another exciting confrontation between these two international class marathoners. Rivals first, but friends nonetheless.

June 13, 2013

Rob Watson Preparing for Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon, by Paul Gains

Anyone following the North American road racing scene understands that Rob Watson is on the verge of an enormous breakthrough one that could launch him onto the international marathoning scene.

A year ago the 29 year old from London, Ontario ran a personal best time at the Rotterdam marathon in 2:13:37. As is his custom he went out quickly, too quickly, and paid in the latter stages of the race. More recently he placed a credible 11th in the 2013 Boston Marathon which was only his third complete marathon.

Just a month later he won the Canadian Marathon championship at the Ottawa marathon with a 2:18:33. He had originally been entered in the Ottawa 10k but switched only two days before.

Next up on his long distance running schedule is the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon on June 23 which is also the occasion of his 30th birthday.

While his long term objective is a dramatic improvement of his personal best there is one other goal he's after. Although he is ranked seventeenth on the list of all time Canadian marathoners he's only fifth amongst employees at 'Forerunners', the Vancouver running shoe store, where he works part time.

“There's pictures on the wall of the three fastest guys,” Watson says laughing. “I want to break into at least the top three in the store. There are two 2:10 guys and a 2:11 guy. It's pretty neat and it busts you down a peg or two.

“It's a small independent store and I am really good friends with everyone I work with. When I was away two months I really missed them. Everyone was very positive, everyone was really supportive. It's a good vibe there. I am really happy that I found this job. They are really flexible. I am happy to jump back in there and be with the crew.”

The owner of the store is Peter Butler, who is ranked third on the Canadian all time marathon list with his 2:10:55 from 1985. Canadian Olympian Dylan Wykes, with his 2:10:47 personal best, is ranked 2nd all time while Art Boileau is sixth (2:11:15). Carey Nelson, 12th on the all time list ranks 4th at the store with his 2:12:28. All except Wykes are retired.

“He's got to up his game!” Butler says in jest. “We have a wall of fame, Dylan myself and Art are on that wall. Rob is going to have to run faster to get on. You have to run 2:11:15 to get on the wall. He's more interested in that than making the Olympics because he knows if he runs that time he will make the Olympics.”

Watson, who sold all his possessions to move to Vancouver and carve out a living as a professional runner, is optimistic about the upcoming half marathon. Three mornings a week he goes to a local gym to do strength training to help prevent injury. He is coached by his brother Peter Watson who is also the cross country coach at the University of Virginia.

“My recovery (from Boston) has been better than it has been in past marathons,” he declares. “Last year after Rotterdam I kind of let it slip a little bit. I have had a few nagging injuries, I have learned to stay on a routine before the marathon and I am doing a lot of active recovery post marathon. It has been going well.

“My goal in Boston was top 10 but I just missed that. I was happy with how I ran. I ran hard. I was happy with the whole experience. I still haven't been quite able to finish up a marathon. I am getting close to figuring it out. It was a positive experience and I learned a lot from it I want to keep building on it and keep rolling.”

Butler says the store phone rang off the hook with media trying to reach Watson after the bombs went off near the Boston finish line. Although the elite athletes' hotel was at the finish area, and, he heard the explosions, they were never in harm. Watson praises officials for keeping everyone safe during the lock down.

As he prepares for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon he is fully aware of the talented field he will face which includes Kip Kangogo the 2011 champion. Originally, his former teammate at Speed River Track Club, Reid Coolsaet, was entered. But the Canadian Olympian broke his collar bone in a bicycle accident recently.

“Right now my shape is decent, much better than this time last year. I want to do well in this half marathon in Vancouver,” Watson declares. “It's on my 30th birthday, it's in my new hometown, so I want to perform well there. I am hoping to be pretty fit by the time that race comes around.”

Having sold his car to move out west he is dependent upon public transportation and a bicycle to get around Vancouver. He's found accommodation he shares with an old high school friend in the downtown core. His initial roommate was a young lady who has since moved to India to pursue yoga. Watson takes it all in stride.

The Colorado State University graduate has himself been described as something of a free spirit. His unusual decision run two marathons in a month is a case in point. But its possible this attitude helps him deal with being a professional athlete and not stressing about where the next pay cheque is coming from. A fall marathon is in the works but he's not sure where.

“I haven't decided yet,” he admits. “There are a few options there. I will be looking for something flat and fast and I will try to run a quick marathon. I don't know where yet. Maybe Chicago, Maybe Amsterdam maybe even Toronto if we can work things out. But I haven't decided 100%.”

Until then he will focus on the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon and test himself against one of the strongest half marathon fields of the season. Whatever the outcome the field will know it's in for a tough fight with the free spirited Rob Watson.

June 7, 2013 — David Suzuki Foundation

Raise money to protect where you'll be racing — the great outdoors

David Suzuki Foundation

Canada's amazing urban green spaces clean the air and water, provide habitat and grow food. The David Suzuki Foundation is helping wrap greenbelts around all our cities.

by Valery Ross, captain, Team Suzuki

Given a choice, I'd pick a run in the forest over time on the treadmill.

Now science shows what most of us know intuitively: spending time in nature makes us healthier. It boosts energy levels and immune function; lowers the risk of diabetes, heart attack and colon cancer; reduces stress, anger and depression; and increases creativity, curiosity, concentration, productivity and problem-solving ability.

Read more…

May 31, 2013 — Spinal Cord Injury BC

Kirsten Sharp: “The only failure is failing to try”

Kirsten Sharp

When Kirsten Sharp became a paraplegic after a skiing accident when she was 14 years-old, she didn't have any close friends or experienced mentors with spinal cord injuries to learn her new way of life from. With the support of her family and friends, she paved her own way.

It wasn't until a few years later that she would meet a good group of peers who also lived with spinal cord injuries. It was only then that the importance of their advice and friendship became crystal clear, and that Kirsten realized the importance of passing her own experience on to others.

Today she's an accomplished world traveller, a home-owner, and a talented Animation Producer and motivational speaker. She's also a dedicated volunteer and Peer Mentor for Spinal Cord Injury BC (SCI BC).

“The only failure is failing to try,” says Kirsten, “and most of what I've wanted to do in my life, I've given a try. If I haven't yet, it's on my list to complete someday. I've been really fortunate, so I think it's really important to help others.”

Because Kirsten didn't have a Peer Mentor when she was newly injured, she's always made a point of helping others out, whenever she can. So naturally, she was one of the first to join SCI BC's team, the Walk 'n Rollers, when we signed up for the Scotiabank Charity Challenge last year.

“I think I would have really benefited from having a Peer Group to go out and try new things with when I was first injured. In the past few years, I've started getting into sports, and one of the reasons I didn't earlier is that I didn't know of all the opportunities that exist,” says Kirsten.

“That's why organizations like Spinal Cord Injury BC are so important. I've seen what a difference it can make to people with recent injuries to connect them with the opportunities that are out there for them.”

As a former employee of the SCI BC Peer Program, Kirsten has seen the impact of Peer Mentorship first hand.

“I think sometimes people think you have to do something really, really big to make a difference in someone's life—and that's not true.”

Kirsten Sharp

“I've pursued my career the way I've wanted to, and played sports although not professionally, and insured that whatever I could get out and do I would try. I found that you don't have to be famous to make a difference to someone. Simply seeing that you have been successful at all you wanted to do, with whatever of your own struggles you had along the way, can show someone that they can do it too.

“This one guy, he was injured when I was at the Peer Program and he said to me once, 'You have no idea what an impact you've had on me. Just the way you would smile and seem happy with your life, you made me look forward to my future.'”

“That was, powerful,” says Kirsten, “It made me realize how important a simple smile was.”

“And that's why the Peer Program at SCI BC is so important—because a lot of people don't necessarily want to be a Paralympian, they just want to know that they can get through their life, and know that they'll be ok,” she says.

“So yeah, that's why I'm on your team. I'd do anything for you guys.”

Join Kirsten and support our team, The Walk 'n Rollers!

Register to run and fundraise: www.canadarunningseries.com/svhm/

Donate to our team, The Walk 'n Rollers: http://bit.ly/YKTSOK

Sponsor Kirsten Sharp on her 5K: http://bit.ly/119J32V

Click here to learn more about this event: http://sci-bc.ca/event/scotiabank-charity-challenge/

Thanks for your support!

May 23, 2013 — Spinal Cord Injury BC

The story of Kyle Jacques, the man with no limitations

Kyle Jacques

On the surface, Kyle Jacques is just like any other 19-year-old grease monkey studying Automotive Refinishing at Vancouver Community College: he's been working on cars since he was five years old and he loves rocking out to music. The only difference is Kyle uses a wheelchair, and he's already overcome more ups and downs than most people may ever face.

When he was just 11-years-old, Kyle spent months living alone in the hospital and at GF Strong, learning to adapt to life with paraplegia. Then a few years later, his father and eventually his mother both passed away from different health complications.

Three months before he graduated high school, Kyle was already living on his own.

Although he found support with Brad Jacobsen, Spinal Cord Injury BC's Lower Mainland Peer Coordinator, social workers, and a youth group, Kyle's biggest source of strength has always been his own determination.

“I didn't give up at all,” says Kyle. “I just try my hardest to get everything done. I don't even feel different from anybody else. The only thing I can't do is stand on my own. That's it. I basically have no limitations,” he says.

Last year, Kyle took his no-limit approach to the test and started learning to walk—something doctors said he would only have a 10 per cent chance of doing again. He can now walk about two blocks with forearm crutches.

And when times get tough, Kyle just cranks some tunes. “Music usually helps a lot,” he says.

When he's not listening to music, working on cars or hanging out with his friends or his girlfriend of two-and-a-half years, he's planning his first business venture: an auto shop, which he hopes to open this summer with his older brother. “My dad was a mechanic and my brother is a mechanic, so we're going to start our own shop. He does a lot of engine work and I can do the body work, so we'll be a good team.”

In the mean time, Kyle is getting geared up for the Scotiabank 5K Charity Challenge, and Spinal Cord Injury BC is stoked to have him on team Walk 'n Rollers once more. Last year, he finished the race in his manual chair in less than 20 minutes! At that rate he probably nipped some runner's heels.

How has he been training for this year's Charity Challenge? His regular commute basically takes care of that: “I avoid public transportation whenever I can. Last week I went to Commercial and Broadway and I live on 10th and Arbutus. It took me about 45 minutes,” he says with a laugh.

Kyle is looking forward to welcoming new members of team Walk 'n Rollers this year: “It's totally worth joining to go out and support people with spinal cord injuries. I thought it was awesome last year, when I saw everybody doing it.”

Join Kyle and support our team, The Walk 'n Rollers!

Register to run and fundraise: www.canadarunningseries.com/svhm

Donate to our team, The Walk 'n Rollers: http://bit.ly/YKTSOK

Sponsor Kyle Jacques on his 5K: http://bit.ly/131iU82

Click here to learn more about this event: http://sci-bc.ca/event/scotiabank-charity-challenge/

Thanks for your support!

The Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k is getting even greener!

Vancouver, April 22, 2013 — The Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon and 5k is committed to producing a world-class event that showcases our city and is both socially and environmentally responsible. This year, the event is aiming to be a certified sustainable event, based on the definitions and measures of sustainability set out by the Council for Responsible Sport.

Certification from the Council for Responsible Sport formally recognizes a significant achievement: the successful completion of a socially and environmentally responsible sporting event. Standards can be achieved in areas ranging from waste management and climate impact to community involvement, health promotion and more.

Here are some examples of what the event is doing to reduce our environmental footprint and increase our sustainability:

We encourage all participants to help us "run green" by getting to and from the event in a sustainable way — by foot, by bike, by transit, or carpooling — and by leaving no garbage behind on course.

About the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k:

The Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k (SVHM) is part of the prestigious Canada Running Series. As one of Vancouver's premier running events, the SVHM attracts more than 6,500 runners and participants of all levels, including many of Canada's top elite athletes. The event takes place Sunday, June 23rd, starting at UBC 7:30am for the half-marathon, and 9:30am at Stanley Park for the 5k. Register today at www.vancouverhalf.com.

Scotiabank is committed to supporting the communities in which we live and work, both in Canada and abroad, through our global philanthropic program, Scotiabank Bright Future. Recognized as a leader internationally and among Canadian corporations for our charitable donations and philanthropic activities, Scotiabank has provided on average approximately $47 million annually to community causes around the world over each of the last five years. Visit us at www.scotiabank.com.

April 4, 2013 — Big Brothers

One Hour a Week Makes a BIG Difference

Big Brothers

Surrey resident Rick Johal works full time as a child-care supervisor. He is also working towards completing his Bachelor of Social Work. Johal just finished his second year of studies at Kwantlen College and will attend UBC in the fall. In his spare time, the twenty-four-year-old likes to snowboard during the winter, go mountain biking in the summer, play guitar and squeeze in some time at the gym. Johal also finds the time to spend a few hours a week with an eight-year-old named Cameron. Johal volunteers as a Big Brother.

Johal is one of 630 volunteers currently participating in Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver's mentoring programs for children. Johal and Cameron have been spending time together for just over a year. Cameron's mother Tanya wanted a Big Brother for him because he didn't have a consistent male role model in his life. She explains, "Cameron and I are very close, but I can't teach him about "guy" stuff. I really noticed it when he wanted me to play soccer, baseball and basketball with him and I don't know how." When Cameron started to spend time with Johal, she noticed a big difference in her son. She says, "Cameron stopped being so clingy and became very respectful of me and of the things I do for him. He started to smile a lot more and really enjoy just being a kid."

Johal met Cameron when he decided to volunteer in Big Brothers' In-School Mentoring (ISM) Program to build up some volunteer experience on his resume. As an ISM volunteer, he spent an hour a week with Cameron on school property during the school year. The pair really hit it off. Johal says, "Cameron and I had a good vibe immediately. Because of the relationship we built, I wanted to continue seeing him through the summer." The pair transferred into the Big Brothers program and continued their friendship.

Big and Little Brothers meet for a few hours every week for fun and friendship, doing activities that both enjoy. Little Brothers are average boys between the ages of seven and 12 who have limited to no contact with their fathers. Big Brothers must be at least 19 years of age and be willing to commit to spend a few hours a week with their Little Brother for a minimum of a year. There are no special skills or experience required to be a Big Brother.

Cameron says that before he met Johal he had, "Nothing to do and no one to talk to about "guy" stuff. There aren't a lot of kids my age who live close to me." The two friends now do a range of activities together including playing basketball, frisbee, video games, hiking, and arts & crafts. Cameron loves having Johal as his Big Brother because he says, "Rick is really cool. He makes me laugh."

Big Brothers' Surrey Mentoring Coordinator, Harpreet Brar, says studies have shown that when a child has someone in their lives who spends consistent, quality time with them, other than a family member, "It provides a huge boost to the child's self esteem. This positively impacts their attitude towards school, their relationships with family and friends and ultimately, how well they succeed in life." Brar encourages men over the age of 19 to call Big Brothers now to obtain more information about volunteering. "There are children waiting to be matched with a Big Brother in every area of the Lower Mainland."

Johal recommends that anyone considering becoming a Big Brother just, "Do it. It is one of the most rewarding experiences ever. My friendship with Cameron continues to grow every week."

Tanya says she is very grateful that Cameron has Johal in his life, "Rick has given my little boy his smile back and put the sparkle back in his eyes. Words can never express how much that means to me. Rick has become part of our family."

April 4, 2013 — WISH

Katherine's Story


Katherine has been coming to WISH for the past year, and in that time, her life has changed for the better.

At 43 years old, she had been struggling with addiction for over ten years when she first walked through the WISH Drop-In Centre's doors in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Her addiction masked the unbearable grief of losing her mother as a child, which set her on a path of self-destruction. As a young adult she went to university to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry but the untreated symptoms of her childhood grief and loss left her unable to focus. It was then that her life began a 'downward spiral' that included drug use, frequent mental health interventions, arrests and hospitalizations.

“Life was irrevocably shattered for me with the loss of my mother and the shame I brought upon my father with my destructive behaviour…which had become a mainstay in my life as a means of supporting my addiction.”

Since Katherine turned to street based sex work to support her addiction, eventually she found her way to WISH, the only facility that is exclusively for women engaging in the survival sex trade.

“Long story short, I came to WISH as participant for the amenities of comfort it offered — food, clothing, camaraderie for women in varying vulnerable states of survival…It left me with a smile in my heart and my faculties refuelled…WISH became a mooring and it anchored me…”.

After a while, Katherine saw a notice on the board at WISH that the Peer Safety Patrol was seeking new recruits. The Peer Safety Patrol is a supported employment initiative that recruits, trains and employs women who use WISH to provide security services for the centre. Not only do women learn new skills and gain job experience through the program, they also give back to their neighbourhood. The training curriculum is comprehensive, based on an anti-violence model and includes sections on peacefully de-escalating crises, peer outreach, first aid and self-defense.

Women who complete the training become employees of WISH and perform a valuable service, keeping their community and their sisters safe. Women recognize the Peer Safety Patrollers in front of the centre and in the surrounding areas (wearing their bright yellow and orange vests) and feel safer knowing they are there.

“I feel the (Peer Safety Patrol) had a twofold benevolence, both to the community…but also as a role model to others that they may see that we have walked in their shoes and recognize the light in their hearts. They'll see the levity in our step as we find solace in reaching out and maybe they will also find a new way home.”

Katherine no longer struggles with addiction like she used to. She lights up when speaking of the bond she shares with her co-workers and sisters at WISH and enjoys the feeling of accomplishment she gets from being on the Peer Safety Patrol. She has found a sense of purpose and a caring community of participants, staff and volunteers in a part of the city where poverty is widespread and day to day life can be challenging.

The mission of WISH is to improve the health, safety and well-being of women who engage in the street based sex trade to survive. The women WISH serves come from all walks of life. While their present lives are characterized by trauma, violence, discrimination and extreme poverty, they are also resilient and eager for opportunities to move forward. WISH provides an overnight drop-in program that includes hot meals, safe showers and washrooms, on-site nursing care, literacy programming as well as supported employment and Aboriginal programming.

By running or walking for WISH, you are helping women like Katherine stabilize their lives and take those all-important first steps, with hope and dignity, towards greater well-being.

March 15, 2013 — Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver

North Shore Volunteer Gives Back

Being a mentor to a child doesn't have to be hard work. You don't have to be a working professional at the peak of your career, a straight A student in university or college or come from a wealthy well-mannered family. All you need is a good head on your shoulders, a thirst for having fun and a little bit of time each week to spend with a child who could benefit from a positive role model.

Recent UBC graduate and North Shore resident Amir Mirbagheri is a Big Brother with Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver. He spends 2-4 hours each week with his 10 year old Little Brother Adel, a vibrant, intelligent boy who also lives in North Vancouver.

In addition to full-time studies and full-time work, Mirbagheri also volunteers at the Children's Hospital and North Shore Stroke Recovery. So where does this busy Graduate student find the time to volunteer as a mentor?

“It's awesome just to hang out with him. It's my favourite time of the week!” says Mirbagheri. “Before, I had a super regimented life, full time school, full time work, and studying. With Adel, it's a few hours a week of pure fun. It's an awesome way to relieve stress and just be a kid.”

Amir and his Little Brother Adel have been matched for just over a year. Their favourite activities include going to the arcade, walking around Granville Island, talking about cars and go-karting. “I would never have the chance to go go-karting or play laser tag if it wasn't for Adel,” says Mirbagheri. “Adel is so awesome and such a pleasure to be with. We always have a good time.”

Rosa Aceves, Adel's mother, says that she called Big Brothers because she felt like Adel needed to have a positive male role model in his life. Since her separation from Adel's father, Adel hadn't had the opportunity to do much guy stuff.

“Adel is an only child and he really needed to have some time for male bonding, which is something that I couldn't give him,” says Aceves, “Adel really looks forward to spending time with Amir because they can talk about cars and video games, and play sports and hang out.”

“I almost feel selfish sometimes because I'm having so much fun when we hang out,” chuckled Mirbagheri, “but then I realize that this is what it's all about — fun.

And the benefits go both ways. Mirbagheri says that he's learned a lot from Adel. “I've learned how to loosen up and be a kid again. He taught me patience and to take things more lightly. He is a lot like me when I was growing up.”

“Adel and Amir have been a great match from day one,” says North Shore Mentoring Coordinator for Big Brothers, Alana Rogers, “Amir and Adel share the same dedication to school and extra curricular activities. They're always so excited to see each other.”

Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver matches boys aged 7-14 who have limited-to-no contact with their fathers with adult male volunteers through the Big Brothers program. The agency also matches elementary school aged boys and girls with male and female volunteers through the In-School Mentoring program.

The North Shore is currently in need of volunteers for their school-based and community based programs. “We have many kids who are waiting for a mentor to spend time with and have fun with,” says Rogers.

When asked what advice he could give to someone considering volunteering as a mentor, Mirbaheri answered, “I would definitely recommend it. It's one of the most fulfilling things that you can do. It's great to build a relationship with someone.

You won't know how much fun and how easy it is until you sign up. I definitely think that even if you are considering it, you should apply because it's just so much fun.”

For more information on how you can get involved, call Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver at 604.876.2447 ext. 236 or visit their website at www.BigBrothersVancouver.com.

March 11, 2013

Climbing past disability

Gerry Burns

There are plenty of stubborn, courageous and feisty characters on Spinal Cord Injury BC's (SCI BC) Scotiabank Charity Challenge team, The Walk 'n Rollers, but few have experienced as many ups and downs as Gerry Burns.

He's a retired motocross racer, a passionate world traveller, a surfer, and one of the toughest athletes you'll ever meet. He's also a quadriplegic, with a C1/C2 spinal cord injury, one of the highest, most debilitating injuries one can get.

When he was injured while playing hockey in 2003, the prognosis was grim. Doctors told him he would rely on a power chair his whole life, and he'd be lucky if he ever took any steps with a walker.

Being a wild child, Burns wouldn't have any of it. He was still in rehab when he set his first goal for recovery: he would climb the Grouse Grind. “I told my physio and they didn't really believe it, but it fueled me to really do 'The Grind' one day,” says Gerry.

It took him five years to reach his ultimate goal, but in 2008, with the support of his friends, family, and peers at SCI BC, Gerry achieved his goal and became one of the first quadriplegics to ever hike up the Grouse Grind. It took him and a supportive team of friends 8.5 hours to conquer.

Last year, when SCI BC asked Gerry to take part in The Scotiabank Charity Challenge, he was game.

“I've got different goals I try to accomplish each year and the 5 km walk was a huge challenge and a new personal record to set,” says Gerry, a power chair user who used his walker whenever he can.

In the end, the 5 km Charity Challenge took Gerry 5 hours and 36 minutes to complete, but he pulled through to the very end. “By the time we got to the finish line, there was no finish line, not even one runner around. In fact the tents had been all packed up,” he chuckles. “But it was all about accomplishing a new personal best and raising awareness. I'm so stoked and I'm really proud to have raised over $1,600 for SCI BC.”

Tragically, Gerry slipped and fell just before last Christmas and broke his back again. Fortunately, this cat's got nine lives, and he is slowly getting back to the level of mobility he had last autumn. Despite all that, he's already looking forward to this year's Scotiabank Charity Challenge. “It's a huge goal to push for, but I think it's a great goal to work up to and I'm definitely gonna go for it.”

One thing that keeps him motivated is knowing that he'll be raising funds for Spinal Cord Injury BC, the non-profit organization that has been with him all along the way.

“I remember having SCI BC peers come to my bedside to check on how I was doing right from hospitalization through to rehab, and as soon as you get out SCI BC is there for you as a resource and a network,” says Gerry.

“Being invited to peer events in the early stages just enforces that you're not going through things alone. I think that what they do for people with spinal cord injuries is just awesome and they deserve more funds to help promote the great programs they run.”

We'll be walking and a rolling our way through the five kilometre course again this year hoping to meet our new fundraising goal of $20,000. If you'd like to join the Walk 'n Rollers team or donate to our cause through Gerry or one of our other team members, please contact Shelley: smilstein@sci-bc.ca.

February 28, 2013

Camp Kerry Society's recording opportunity at Nimbus

Camp Kerry

Recently the Camp Kerry Youth Group along with volunteer/long time supporter of Camp Kerry, Joshua Dahling recorded at Nimbus and it was a huge success.

Music Heals works to promote awareness about music therapy and work to promote organizations that use music to help people.

Recently they put out a youtube video with a member from Swollen Members where they asked to use one of our images: www.musicheals.ca/ANightOut.

Music Heals

The experience at Nimbus was awe inspiring for all of us because from the moment you walk in the walls are plastered with gold records all the way to the ceiling. Big names like Kiss, Nickelback, Marianas Trench, Hedley, Billy Talent, Slayer, Michael Buble, and more. This was more than any of us expected and truly a motivating factor for the youth to stick around all day. One of the recording engineers actually worked with Elton John! It was pretty cool. The staff who worked with us were ever so patient and encouraging the entire time we were there, which was about 9 hours. It was one of Camp Kerry's own youths 16th birthday, so we did a little party there and she said it was the best birthday ever! I got an email from Shawn Cole that says: “Hey Josh, It was my pleasure to be able to coordinate the project for such an incredible organization. I've heard from Dwayne and the rest of the students who participated in the session. They have been raving about the experience all week, and we are very thankful to have had the opportunity to help out.”

It is most likely that we'll be returning to Nimbus again in the future and I'm excited about the opportunities there are for the youth. Brad Ellis, one of the program participants, now has a goal to either work there or go to school there.

The proceeds from the recordings will be used to send families to camp as with the other two songs that are available through our website (campkerry.org). This was made possible due to a collaborative effort between Chris Brandt, Executive Director from Music Heals, Shawn Cole at Nimbus and Heather Mohan who worked together for the donated recording time and engineering.

February 24, 2013

Why should you run for the Canadian Liver Foundation in the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon and 5K? Or why should you pledge to someone who is participating in the event?

Jenessa and her mom

I don't know your answer, but I can tell you why I'm running and collecting pledges, and trying to raise awareness. My name is Jenessa and I lost my beautiful mom to liver disease in 2011 when she was only 47 years old. My mom's disease, Primary Biliary Cirrhosis, is poorly understood and, save for a complete liver transplant, is incurable. Unlike common misconceptions about all liver diseases, it is not lifestyle related. Its typical victims are middle-aged women, although men are not exempt. My mom was the typical victim of this disease. Your mother, sister, wife, friend or you may be, too.

I miss my mom everyday. I still cannot believe she is gone. I am running for her. I am fundraising with the clichéd — but very real — hope that our efforts can keep another family from going through what we have endured. I am raising awareness because I do not appreciate the look I sometimes get when I tell people I lost my mom to liver disease. That look is based on misinformation and it hurts. I run because 21.1km is nothing compared to what my mom did for me.

Canadian Liver Foundation

February 24, 2013

Celebrating Victory Over Cancer


Chantal will be one of the 5000 runners lining up for this year's Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon. A year ago, this would have seemed a goal beyond reach. In December of 2011, Chantal's life took a dramatic turn for the unexpected. Ten days after giving birth to her son, Ben, Chantal was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer that affects the lymphatic system. Experiencing fatigue before giving birth, Chantal believed it was attributed to being pregnant. It wasn't until she was in labour that her husband noticed a lump above her collarbone, a swollen lymph node. Getting used to being a new mother, going to see a doctor to investigate this was not the first thing on her mind. Chantal's diagnosis came on New Year's Eve, the day before the start of a very challenging 2012. “When I got news of my diagnosis, I wanted to understand how and why it happened. Could it have been prevented? What caused it?” Chantal, a 29 year old nutritionist and yoga instructor has always been focused on healthy living. It didn't make sense to get sick. But for most people there are no obvious reasons or risk factors for developing Hodgkin lymphoma. The good news is that this is one of most curable types of cancer.

One year ago, in February 2012, Chantal began 6 months of chemotherapy, followed by regular rounds of radiation treatment. “I first wanted to see what natural options there were for treatment, but after learning from my naturopath how successful conventional treatment is against Hodgkin lymphoma, I knew this was the way to go. I know that it's because of research funded by organizations like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada (LLSC) that such technology and effective treatment options exist. But while it worked, treatment wasn't easy. 2012 was easily the worst year of my life.”

2013 is Chantal's year. In January of this year, she received the 'all-clear' after finishing treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma three months before. It was then that Chantal learned about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada's Team In Training. “I was thinking about what I can do to celebrate my victory over cancer, and I found a brochure for Team In Training. It seemed like such a great way to get involved. I talked to my radiologist and my doctor and I was advised that regular physical activity and training for a half marathon would be very good for my recovery and return to health.” Chantal describes this new year, the year of the snake, as being one of renewal, rebirth, and of shedding the skin of the previous challenging year.

So now Chantal, vibrant and healthy, has joined the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada's (LLSC) Team In Training (TNT) and is training to complete her first half marathon, the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon. “Vancouver and all its beauty was the backdrop of my cancer journey. To run here to celebrate my victory and triumph over cancer with my friends and family on the sidelines will be a really empowering step forward to me. It will prove to me that I can truly do anything, right here in Vancouver. And I know this race boasts a coastal route showcasing Vancouver's natural beauty.” Chantal has committed to train for this race while raising funds for the LLSC whose mission is to find a cure for all blood cancers and improve the quality of life for patients and their families. Team In Training is part of the Charity Challenge at this year's Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon.

Only signing up to get started a few weeks ago, Chantal has already gotten hooked on the TNT experience. “My coach answers all my many questions and I feel very supported by everyone so far. Running feels great too and I'm already reaping the benefits. There are so many positive life lessons you can learn from running, many of which I can apply moving forward from my cancer journey.”

If you see Chantal on the course on race day in her purple TNT jersey, be sure to give her a cheer. Go Team!

Relentless for a cure, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada's Team In Training is the largest and most successful endurance sports training program for charity. Runners, walkers, cyclists, and triathletes of all levels have the opportunity to challenge their fitness and participate in a world-class endurance event, while making a true difference in the lives of 100,000 Canadians living with blood cancers.

Achieve YOUR goals and train with Team In Training for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon.

Training has just begun so sign up today to join us! To find out more, visit www.teamintraining.ca or call 604-733-2873 or toll free 1-866-547-5433.

LLSC / Team In Training