Day 22 – 28.71 km (total – 397.51 km)
My dad grew up in Hamilton and was the oldest of 3 brothers. He was active and played football… ended up playing for the farm team of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for a brief stint until an injury led him down another path in life. So I suppose some of my athletic genes can be attributed to him! He became a runner later in his twenties and every day for the last 45 odd years, he has woken up at 4:50 am to run (one of the few qualities I don’t take after!). There have been short periods where injury has sidelined him or he won’t wake up until 6 am to start his day, but at age 70, he still enjoys his morning run around Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg.
When I was in grade 6, our family was living in Winnipeg and my dad had been training for a marathon. As most runners know, races are most often held on Sunday mornings. This posed a problem, as he was the minister of a Salvation Army church. Luckily, my mother was too, so she did the Sunday morning service while my dad ran the race. Right before the service, I caught wind that he had finished the marathon, but had collapsed of dehydration at the finish line and had been taken to hospital. As I sat through the first few minutes of the meeting, I couldn’t bare it any longer. I snuck out of the pew and sprinted to the hospital nearby. I ran with urgency and my stride carried me with a sense of purpose. I huffed and puffed at the desk in emergency, asking for the room of my father. No such name was registered I was told. I was confused. It took a couple of minutes to discover he had been taken to another hospital. Eventually, I got to see him that day and although I didn’t know at the time what a marathon really entailed, I knew I was proud of him.
Before driving to Newfoundland to start this run across the country, I spent about 6 weeks in Winnipeg visiting my family. There were a few challenges of moving back in with mom and dad, but we all survived! On a brisk Saturday morning, my dad waited until I woke up at 8 to run with me. Our strides were in sync and the crunching of snow beneath our feet was our metronome. I’m told a lot that I live in my head… like father like son I suppose! As we made our way around the park, few words were exchanged. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. The crisp air filled our lungs, the frost nipping at our noses… a run that I’ll remember for awhile. We don’t always realize the people who influence us to get outside. It has taken awhile to fully understand the integral role my dad played in my love for the outdoors.
I am proud to be my father’s son. I feel him “with” me every day. And I’ll cherish that day sometime this June, when he ties up his laces again and joins me for a leg of my journey through Winnipeg.