A large crowd of 2,863 runners crossed the finish line July 24 at the 84th running of the Tely 10-Mile Road Race, but only one did so in the ladies 75-79 age group — Gander’s Norma Regular.
Regular walked across the finish line with a chip time (computerized time) of 2:44.23, and waiting for her there was her daughter, Port aux Basques resident Gail Simms.
Although Regular was proud of her 10-mile accomplishment, nobody was more proud of her than Simms, who finished 13th of the 171 runners that ran through the rain in the female 50-54 division.
After Simms crossed the line with a chip time of 1:22.08, she got into some dry clothes, and headed back to meet her mother.
She didn’t have to walk very far.
“I met her by the eight-mile mark. That’s how far she was,” said Simms. “I told her I was going to be at the finish line. I cheered her on when she finished, and I just embraced her, and said, ‘Mom, I’m so proud of you.’ It’s just a feeling … it’s hard to describe how you feel. She’s always been that type of person. She puts her mind on doing something, and she gets it done.”
Although she was proud of her mother, Simms was anything but surprised. Even after recovering from two hip replacements — the first one was almost 10 years ago, and the second was in 2006 — Regular is as active as they come.
She mows her own lawn, pushes snow out of her driveway, just finished staining her back deck, walks regularly, and when she can’t get outside because of inclement weather, uses a Christmas gift Simms bought her faithfully for exercise.
“I was talking to my friend’s daughter and told her I was planning on getting Mom a bike, because the bike would be better for her to build up her legs after her hip replacement. She agreed, so I asked, ‘what’s the best kind to get?’ That’s when I got the recumbent exercise bike for her for Christmas,” said Simms. “It was setup in the living room, and if you walk into the house now, the exercise bike is still in the living room. She uses it pretty much every day from January until the snow is gone.”
If the weather co-operates and Regular is able to get outside for her walk, she probably wouldn’t use the machine. If she misses a day, she’ll try and make up for it the next day. She even keeps a logbook, recording when she uses the bike and for how long, and averages 28 hours a month on the machine.
By staying active, Regular is able to participate in events like the Tely 10, or the Commander Gander Road Race, which she did Aug. 7.
Simms is hoping her mother’s story will inspire other seniors, and those recovering from hip replacement, to get active and stay active.
Even after two hip replacements, and after learning her daughter was registered for the Tely 10, Regular thought to herself, can I do this? Can I walk 10 consecutive miles?
“It was the personal satisfaction for her,” said Simms. “When I said I was going in, she said to me, ‘do you think I could do that?’ I said, well, if you want me to register you, I can, Mom. The thing is, there are paramedics all along the route, so if you feel like you can’t finish, there’s no shame in it. You’re going to be able to do at least 10 km anyway, and I think you can do it all.”
And do it all she did, and she now plans to do more races.
Regular said she enjoys walking the courses, and doesn’t enter with goals of finishing in a certain time, or a certain place.
She enjoys travelling to events with her daughter, but doesn’t expect to compete against her anytime soon.
“It was great, although I’ll never catch up to her,” Regular said with a laugh. “I did enjoy taking off on a couple of trips with Gail. It was good.”
As for Simms, she also enjoys going to races with her mother, and plans on supporting her as much as she possibly can.
For Simms, it’s her way of saying thanks to a mother who always supported her when she was younger.
“She always encouraged me. Even when I was younger, she always encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do. It’s come full circle, in a sense,” said Simms. “Talking to you about her now is bringing tears to my eyes. You can hear it in my voice. I can’t help it.”
Regular is taking a road trip with Simms next month to Ontario, where she plans to complete a race she is all too familiar with.
“I’m going up to Ottawa with Gail in September for the army run (fourth annual Canadian Army Run), and that will be my third time up there,” said Regular. “Last October, we were in Victoria, B.C., visiting my family, and she was going to run in a marathon there. So, I thought I would walk in the event there, which was eight kilometres, and that was the longest distance I had ever walked.”
Until now, that is.
The Tely 10 is approximately 16 kilometres in length. If that wasn’t arduous enough, Regular had to complete the lengthy course in a constant downpour of rain.
Not that it mattered.
“I didn’t mind it at all,” said Regular with a laugh. “It was just so hot and I had a raincoat on, and I thought I was going to be the only person there wearing a raincoat, but a man passed me and he was wearing one, too.”