When we lined up for the start of a race, my female team mates and I used to joke about it. There we were, anxious – a combination of nervousness and excitement. Before we pass along whispers of good luck, one of us would quietly blurt out “why do we even choose to run?” Maybe it was the nerves talking, but we would all giggle for a moment and reply a quick “I don’t know” before we turned out attention back to the start line. The start of a race is a magical thing. It can be full of hope and potential; something miraculous waiting to happen and worth fighting for. But when we found ourselves asking why, the start line frightened us with worry and dread. Would we race as well as we had hoped? Would we fall off the pack with a fit of muscle cramps? It seemed like in a flash of a moment, the thought of running the race seemed absolutely terrifying.
Then the race was over, and all those feeling had disappeared. After a good race I’d think this is why, this is why I run. Now at 18 I’m past the high school races and moving onto the next phase, I’m now asking myself why in a different sense. Why do I run? My immediate thoughts are for my overall wellness and because I am part of a team, but I crave to run for something more; I wish all my hard work to benefit someone else rather than just myself.
I heard a lady speak at an elementary school I volunteered at about her running experiences a few weeks back. She started out by explaining that something inside her sparked her passion for running when she watched her first marathon at fourteen. And even though throughout her high school years when she was told she wasn’t a runner and that she shouldn’t run, she knew in her heart that it was something she really wanted to do. So she trained hard and stuck to it.
One phone call changed everything, one where her doctor explained she had breast cancer. However with friends and family by her side, she was able to get through this and can now declare herself a cancer survivor.
She was then able to make her ONERUN dream a reality, and on June 25, 2010, she was able to run 100 kilometres from London to Sarnia in less than 12 hours. Difficult, but not impossible. The kids in the gymnasium immediately began asking her questions, and most of them wondered if she ever took breaks, or how tired she felt after the run. She mentioned that she would try not to stop, but if she had to, there was a van following her with food, water, medical supplies, and most importantly a toilet.
For those of you wondering, this extraordinary woman’s name is Theresa Carriere. Once I heard her speak, I knew that there was something I can do to make my running mean something. Maybe it’s running 100 kilometres, or maybe it’s something else.
Above: Both videos were filmed on June 25, 2010
I’m not much of a hockey person, but my brother mentioned a particular player to me that fits this theme. His name is Ben Fenelli, and he used to play for the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL until something happened just as suddenly as something happened to Teresa Carriere.
Sunyana Sapurji wrote on thestar.com that at 16, Ben Fanelli suffered both skull and facial fractures when he received a hit from another player in October of 2009. His helmet was knocked off and it sent him flying headfirst into a metal stanchion before his head smacked the ice.
Now two years later, Ben Fanelli is creating a program to raise both awareness for brain related injuries as well as funds to support related groups. This program is cleverly named Head Strong. The record.com applauded Mr. Fanelli for his efforts, and mentioned that “as part of his fundraising efforts, Fanelli will take part in the Subaru Triathlon on June 5 in Milton. He will participate in a 750-metre swim, a 30-kilometre bike ride and a 7.5-kilometre run while raising funds for the Brian Injury Association of Canada.” (therecord.com, March 7 2011). To be honest, I don't know very much about Ben Falleni and Head Strong, but I encourage you to find out more about his story and his goals with this program he has created. Please find his Head Strong page on facebook to like and donate for a good cause.
Above: Ben Falleni during first triatholon, from the facebook page Head Strong.
Both of these individuals have not only inspired others by pulling themselves back up, but by taking their painful experiences and using them to benefit others in charitable ways. I am astounded by you both, and believe that the two deserve a standing ovation. Maybe sometimes when life takes us those two steps back, it gives us time to put things into perspective.
For more information on Theresa and ONERUN, a few sites and articles are listed below.
For more information about Ben and Head Strong, a few sites and articles are listed below.