With two minutes and 30 seconds to go before Tely 10 organizers shut down the official finish line Sunday afternoon, a small group of spectators had tears in their eyes as they shouted and applauded when Irene Carroll finished the race.
At nearly 3 1/2 hours in, most of the crowd had already left Bannerman Park.
The Kate Bazeleys and Colin Fewers of the race had finished more than a couple of hours ago — they had already accepted their awards on stage and left the park.
But Carroll’s family and friends cheered and hugged her as if she’d won first place.
They said they couldn’t be prouder if she did.
“Don’t be ashamed of trying,” the back of Carroll’s shirt reads. “Every journey has to start somewhere.”
“I was over 425 pounds when I started this journey,” she said.
Today she’s 330 pounds and her goal is to be under 200.
“I spent my whole life battling being overweight and then I spent years trying to do something about my weight,” the 41-year-old Labrador City resident said.
“But when my son Dylan was born, you know, I want to be there to watch him finish growing. He just graduated high school.
“When he gets married, I want to be there. When he has kids, I want to be there. And if I’m not healthy, and if I’m not trying everything in my power to live the best life that I can live, then maybe I’ll miss some of that. I’m going to miss some of it eventually anyway, but I want to be around for a lot longer yet.”
Family flew in to see her
The whole family flew from Labrador City to watch Carroll cross the finish line — her husband, her son and his girlfriend, her parents, and her sister and some friends.
“I’m happy for her,” her husband, Patrick Carroll, said after giving her a long hug at the end of the finish line.
“If she’s happy, I’m happy to support her in everything she does.”
Carroll said she’s tried to lose weight over the years with no success until one day four years ago a friend asked her to join a step class.
“I can’t do a step class,” Carroll recalled saying.
But her friend said no one else would go with her, so Carroll relented.
“I wasn’t very good at it, and I certainly was slow at everything I did.”
That summer, people in the step class asked her to join the running group.
“I was like, ‘Are you crazy? This body doesn’t run, like, it just doesn’t.’”
But Carroll joined, and while others ran, she walked.
Eventually, she got to the point where she was ready to do her first race — the annual Berry Run in Labrador City. She completed the 5K run in just under an hour. Last year, her time was down to about 45 minutes.
Carroll said completing the Tely 10 was on her mind since her first Berry Run. Now she’s making more goals for herself — she said she’d like to get to a point where she can run a marathon.
Her mother, Beatrice Whittle, said Carroll’s been an inspiration to a lot of people in their family and their community.
“I’ve seen her attitude, how she looks at things today — she’s got such an upbeat way about her right now that it’s amazing.”
Whittle said it wasn’t always that way.
She recalls her daughter over the years saying she can’t do things because of her weight.
“That word — can’t — is not in her vocabulary anymore, and to see that, it’s amazing.”
Whittle said if someone told her eight years ago that Carroll would run the Tely 10, she wouldn’t have believed it.
“But she did it, and I am so proud of her — just so proud of her.”
Carroll said completing the Tely 10 feels “amazing”, but even better is how she feels about her health.
“I know I’m still considered obese, but I know that my heart is strong, and I know that I’m a strong individual who can accomplish anything I put my mind to.”
Meanwhile, the next Berry Run in Labrador City is coming up on Aug. 5, and Carroll is looking forward to running the five-kilometre race again to see if she can beat her time last year.
“I’m getting there — one foot in front of the other.”