Observations from the back of the Tely 10 pack — The Honourable Stragglers

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It was my first Tely 10 on July 28, and I was excited and invigorated. I had done my training. Pushing seventy, it was an early birthday gift to myself. Having run before, many years before, in Toronto, I knew how empowering the running world can be. Running is an important element to it, no doubt, but it’s the underlying benefits and bonuses that are far more important. The overcoming of personal barriers and the entering of a totally personal zone when spirit, body and emotions connect. Impossible to explain to anyone who hasn’t done this. Sometimes words defile the experience to quote my daughter. I don’t use the word empowerment lightly. Training for a race involves many elements. An ongoing commitment to the training process, a scouting of suitable roads and then measuring and timing the distance of these roads. Not easy in an outport where trucks and cars have absolute precedence and completely ignore any speed-limits and view pedestrians of any stripe as a nuisance to be annihilated. So personal safety comes into the equation, also. Watchful eyes are paramount, often leading to pinning oneself against a barrier or fence as trucks thunder past each other on the narrow roads without slowing down even though one’s visibility is obvious for a kilometre. At times climbing Everest seems like a little holiday compared to the travails of an elder trying to put in her mileage on a busy road. I’m only mentioning all this to show the background of all that is involved in training for the Tely 10 event. On the day itself, the comraderie, the music and the absolute connection between all the racers was magical, from the laughing on the bus to the fabulous music at the start — The Travelling Wilburys, Great Big Sea to give you a sample. All culminating in a solo rendition of “The Ode to Newfoundland” which had us all wiping our eyes discreetly. My whole object was completion. I’ve never bothered with timing and heart-rate and those little bottles of goo slung around the belt to give extra energy bursts. I’m your meat-and-potatoes racer. I trust in the water stations, in the safety provided, in the support of the spectators. To say I was disappointed in the way us stragglers were treated in the race is to understate it. We paid the same money at registration as all the rest but, and a big but, there was no water at Mile 5 as the tables and chairs and water had been put away. A kind passerby gave me a bottle out of her trunk at Mile 6. I needed it. At Mile 7 the police told us to move to the sidewalks as the roads were now opening to vehicular traffic. The new challenge: sidewalks with cracks and holes to avoid, steps to go up and down, and worst of all traffic lights. And all the spectators just about gone. Talk of challenging! A few gave up. Hard to blame them. I know the slow participants must be a nuisance to the organizers who are focused on the speeders. But a little consideration should be in order. We have trained just as hard and are equally excited at being part of this wonderful road race. If there is an extra cost involved in policing, etc., perhaps some funding from health, cancer society and heart and stroke foundations are in order for elders who exercise and train like this are less of a burden on healthcare resources and should be encouraged, not forgotten about as we were on last Sunday. Maybe there would be far more older participants if this were the case. And the real stories are among the stragglers which never see the light of day. One woman in my pack was running, in tears, for her husband who had died two weeks before. Another was being cheered on by all her grandchildren who had taken the ferry from Nova Scotia. Another had left her dying father, at his urging, in the hospital to run the race for him. Another fellow had lost more than 100 lbs and wanted to do something he never thought he’d be doing in his lifetime. Inspiring? Absolutely. The Honourable Stragglers. I’m so damn proud to be in your pack! Mary Moylan St. Joseph’s

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