Turning ‘a-ha’ Moments into Motivators

March 2018

As I sit down to write this article it is -27 degrees Celsius, and the weather channel is adding insult to injury by assuring me it feels like -34. For some of us, it seems like a good reason to hibernate indoors and binge watch Netflix; for others, it’s a beautiful day for a run.

About 200 experienced and first time runners gather Saturday morning at Fresh Air Experience as they work towards their goal of running the Fire Fighters Ten Mile Road Race on May 21st. You don’t have to be a runner to know that spring in Thunder Bay is synonymous with the “10 Miler”, as it is affectionately known. This event has been a Victoria Day staple for hundreds of participants, volunteers and spectators since 1910. In 2006, Fresh Air began offering a training group specifically designed to get runners to the finish line.

Tanya Bruni and Tanya Baker are two friends who decided 2018 was their 10 Miler year. “Every year when the 10 miler would roll around I would think to myself that it would be awesome to complete it, but I always talked myself out of it thinking I could never run that distance.” says Baker.

For Bruni, her a-ha moment came when her 10 year old daughter ran a 2 mile leg of the race as a relay with her school running club. Bruni vividly remembers cheering her daughter on as she approached the end of her leg.

“That day changed everything. I made a vow to myself that I would run in the 10 miler.”

A couple of texts and phone calls later Bruni and Baker were signed up for the training. “We didn’t know much about it, except that it existed (we would see these crazy runners every year starting in January!) but it has a reputation in town as being the best way to get prepared for the race.” Says Bruni. Many runners would whole-heartedly agree.

It all started with a group of about 30 runners who attended Thursday night runs at Fresh Air. Deciding that they wanted to do the 10 Miler, Sandy Guthrie, a well-known local runner, answered the call by coming up with the idea for a training group. That was in 2006, and Guthrie remained the driving force and lead organizer until 2016. Over the years, some of the runners that participated in that inaugural group have become trainers and group leaders themselves. Cheryl Ready was there when it all began, and is now a group leader and one of the organizers. Ready recalls first hearing about the training group and thinking there was no way she could run 10 miles. “I had just started running on my own and was hoping to find other people to run with so I signed up. I finished the race and have been helping to train other beginners since 2007. I’ve met many people through this group over the years and we have trained together and motivated each other to constantly reach for new goals. I am still thrilled to have been able to do this. It's been quite a journey and has led to a wonderful lifestyle." Says Ready.

In true Thunder Bay fashion, this group gives back as well. Runners can treat themselves to after run snacks (homemade!) for a small donation. The group leaders donate the snacks and proceeds are given to various charities.

Participants are grateful for the expertise and support that the training group provides. Each week as the miles increase, so does their sense of accomplishment and confidence. Fresh Air uses weekly emails and a Facebook group (2018 Fresh Air Ten Mile Training) to answer questions, share training stories and provide encouragement outside of the Saturday morning training runs. Beyond the runs, the training program also features informational sessions on topics such as nutrition, selecting the appropriate running gear and cross training.

You can still be a part of this Thunder Bay tradition if you are not running the race. There are numerous opportunities to volunteer and training is provided.

If you are interested, go to www.10mileroadrace.org and click on “Volunteers”.

Come on out on May 21st to cheer on the runners out on the course and be part of this Thunder Bay rite of Spring. You’ll be glad you did, and who knows, maybe next year, someone will be cheering you on. Good luck to everyone with their training and on race day.

Kathy Shilliday is a regular contributor and a hawk eye for stories to share. She can be reached at rkshilliday@tbaytel.net

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