Three weeks ago, the annual Run for Women was as good as dead.
Cancelled quietly, the 33-year-old event might just have disappeared, had it not been for a chance meeting.
Gordie Garriock on Saturday said she happened to run into Vi Turner, who has run in every Run for Women since it began in earnest in 1980.
“She mentioned how disappointed she was that the run had been cancelled,” Garriock said on Saturday. “I was shocked. I hadn’t heard that it was. And I started to think about it, I made a few phone calls and the morning was still available,” she said.
“I phoned a few of the volunteers that had worked with me from 1980 to 2000. Everybody said let’s do it. I didn’t really realize how crazy we were to think we could do it in two-and-a-half weeks. But it’s been amazing. Everyone’s been so helpful.”
Lo and behold, despite temperatures would even be unwelcome in March in Thunder Bay, nearly 150 runners and walkers were on hand to take part in the event, which is more about raising awareness for fitness in women, this year with a special focus on cardiovascular health.
“We just wanted to keep it going this year and next year we’ll start planning earlier.”
Garriock said it was too great an event, which in 1994 had 3,700 participants, to let it slip away unnoticed.
“So many women have participated, of all ages, from 16 up until 90. So many women have volunteered – and men, we can’t do this event without men, they’re a huge help to us.”
The race was originally begun after women’s fitness levels dropped after age 16. It was part of the community fitness campaign, Garriock said.
“That’s still important today. We have the highest cardiovascular disease in Ontario and we’re one of the top three in Canada. So we have to get moving, we have to be fit, we have to take responsibility for our own health – everybody, our families, our husbands, all the important people in our lives.”
This is exactly why Turner wanted to make sure the Run for Women continued its legacy.
“It’s the beginning of a lifestyle for people who have never thought of doing anything healthy. They start to walk and it leads them into other activities to keep their health into better condition than it would if they sat home on the couch.”
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