An achievement by any name, at any time

Kenn Oliver
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Jennifer Johnson feels first-rate after finishing last

Imagine completing the Telegram 10-Mile Road Race for the first time and experiencing the feeling of accomplishment that comes with conquering the province's marquee running competition alongside the best runners the province.

Now imagine there being no record of your personal feat.

For Goulds native Jennifer Johnson, that's exactly what happened. But she's just fine with it.

The 29-year-old licensed practical nurse completed the 16-kilometre trek - walking almost the entire distance - in a time of three hours, 17 minutes and 23 seconds wearing bib No. 483.

Goulds native Jennifer Johnson. - Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Imagine completing the Telegram 10-Mile Road Race for the first time and experiencing the feeling of accomplishment that comes with conquering the province's marquee running competition alongside the best runners the province.

Now imagine there being no record of your personal feat.

For Goulds native Jennifer Johnson, that's exactly what happened. But she's just fine with it.

The 29-year-old licensed practical nurse completed the 16-kilometre trek - walking almost the entire distance - in a time of three hours, 17 minutes and 23 seconds wearing bib No. 483.

The only thing is, No. 483 was registered to one Pamela Noftall, running in the 40-45 age group.

"I didn't think anything was going to happen, I'll just go in as Pam Noftall. No big deal," Johnson said Monday.

It might have gone unnoticed if she hadn't had been the very last runner across the line Sunday morning.

"I wasn't trying to be competitive," Johnson told the Telegram. "My goal was to just finish the race and to prove to myself that I could."

As it turns out, Noftall couldn't compete in the 82nd running due to a bad back and doctor's orders. Johnson, who was driving home from northern British Columbia, indicated to her aunt, a friend of Noftall's, that she was interested in competing. Her aunt assumed it was too late to register and later suggested she run with the unused bib.

"I would have registered myself, only I wasn't here. I was driving from B.C. to here when all this was going down.

"I didn't have much of a clue about the whole process, I just really wanted to do it."

Not even halfway through Sunday's race, Johnson might have been singing a different tune as the effects of being ill-prepared caught up with her. Joggers she had purchased in the West Edmonton Mall just days earlier - "I took the tags off them and wore them that day" - were rubbing on her heel and Achilles tendon, causing her to limp.

But the discomfort didn't stop her. And she's not ashamed of her time, some 14 minutes slower than the second-last finisher, or the fact she walked the entire distance, save for a light jog to the finish line.

"I wasn't even making it to the water stations (in time), they were taking them all down. I was literally walking by myself."

Well, not entirely by herself. Early in the race, a volunteer offered to have her son and daughter take shifts walking alongside Johnson, and another of the lady's sons walked with her nearly to the midway mark. It was there she came across three bicycling St. John Ambulance volunteers, who accompanied her for the remainder of the course.

"They were so supportive and kept me focused on what I was doing. If I didn't have them, I probably would not have finished," said Johnson.

Johnson says part of coming home, after a number of years of being inactive while in B.C., was to lose weight and start living a healthy lifestyle.

"I was in a rut when I was up there, and my goal was to come home and get active. Now that I know I can walk 10 miles, I know I can do pretty much anything."

Johnson, who will start working towards a nursing degree this fall, insists she'll compete in next year's Tely 10.

"But if I do, I'm going to be in better shape, set a better goal and actually plan for it."

koliver@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Telegram 10-Mile Road Race

Geographic location: Goulds, British Columbia

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  • David
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Good job! The Tely has become such a positive goal to work towards for people of all fitness levels. From the elite runners looking to win their age categories to runners looking for their personal best times to those just running to finish to those walking, if this helps you become more active and get in better shape than you were then good on you. This especially important in an age where North Americans are more overweight than they have ever been.

  • Daphne
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Im so Proud of You Jennifer! Awesome Job .I knew you would finish!
    You are truly an inspiration to many .Best wishes on your future plans and Good luck in next years race ..maybe I might be there to run with you .

  • Barney
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    What an inspiration you are. Fantastic story and it nearly brought a tear to my eye. I will be doing the Tely 10 next year for sure now!

  • Erica
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Great story & nice to see coverage of people other than just the top few! Job well done Telegram team

  • Angelica
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    So proud of you Ms. Noftall, er... Johnson!! Way to go!

  • jonathan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    I would not consider her to be in last place, when there are some who could not even complete the whole race. Great Job!

  • Tracey
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    Way to go Jennifer! Your initiative and drive will surely pay off and affect many other people that think they can't compete.

  • Coda
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Jennifer, I'm so proud of you. You did better than I did, and yes, I didn't participate. After reading your story, I wish I did. Wishing you the best of luck for next year. Wear your accomplishments with pride.

  • David
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    Good job! The Tely has become such a positive goal to work towards for people of all fitness levels. From the elite runners looking to win their age categories to runners looking for their personal best times to those just running to finish to those walking, if this helps you become more active and get in better shape than you were then good on you. This especially important in an age where North Americans are more overweight than they have ever been.

  • Daphne
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Im so Proud of You Jennifer! Awesome Job .I knew you would finish!
    You are truly an inspiration to many .Best wishes on your future plans and Good luck in next years race ..maybe I might be there to run with you .

  • Barney
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    What an inspiration you are. Fantastic story and it nearly brought a tear to my eye. I will be doing the Tely 10 next year for sure now!

  • Erica
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    Great story & nice to see coverage of people other than just the top few! Job well done Telegram team

  • Angelica
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    So proud of you Ms. Noftall, er... Johnson!! Way to go!

  • jonathan
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    I would not consider her to be in last place, when there are some who could not even complete the whole race. Great Job!

  • Tracey
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    Way to go Jennifer! Your initiative and drive will surely pay off and affect many other people that think they can't compete.

  • Coda
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    Jennifer, I'm so proud of you. You did better than I did, and yes, I didn't participate. After reading your story, I wish I did. Wishing you the best of luck for next year. Wear your accomplishments with pride.