October 1st, 2011

Legs for Literacy

It's as predictable as leaves turning and football games at Rocky Stone and now the Stadium!

It is time for the AstraZeneca Legs for Literacy, the signature multi-distance event in Atlantic Canada, the last Boston qualifier in eastern Canada in 2011.

For many of you it is a race;, for others an event. However, the true characterization of the day is its charitable cause, Literacy. Last year, sponsors and runners were able to donate $50,000 to support local libraries, the Regional Learning Council, Hackmatack and a host of other community-based projects. Each year the hard-working committee and generous supporters out-do themselves; 1,750 participants registered in 2010. This year 2,000 is the target!

Aside from generous support from the three local communities, certain businesses deserve special notice for their gold level support. They are Taste of Nature, Sylvan Learning, Canadian Springs, Saputo and a generous supporter of most anything on the move, Lounsbury Group of Companies.

Generally speaking, I try to feature the personalities that come and go through my running life. However, this event is most deserving of multiple shout out louds both in terms of its community impact and breadth of tri-community involvement. Equally deserving of notice is the effort to increasingly engage youth.

Running isn't sexy. Rarely is it a team sport and precious few people show up to watch this largely solitary activity. Everything about it is contrary to the highly orchestrated nature of kids' play in today's world.

The understated side of this great day is the ongoing commitment of schools to have kids K-8 walk, bike and/or run all but the last two kilometres of the marathon distance over the early fall.

Distances are tracked and on the Saturday prior to the adult show, kids show up to conclude their commitment. This year it will be held at our great new stadium. In concert with Athletics NB, kids will be afforded an opportunity to try out a few events in a world-class facility. Seasoned speedster Gab LeBlanc, technical director of ANB, and other experts will be on hand to guide the youngsters in a non-competitive but real-life manner. There will be hurdles, long jump, javelin, shot put, etc. - the list goes on.

Please visit before October 15 to register. As well, there is the Cheer Challenge. Schools stand to win $500 to use as they may by orchestrating the best cheer section. Last year Riverview Middle School stole the honour from Birchmount. Do I sense a challenge!

Additionally, NBers with certain physical challenges are being encouraged to participate on the Sunday race day in a 1.8-km course on Main Street prior to commencement of the 5- and 10-km races.

The New Brunswick 1/2-marathon championship is part of this great weekend. That particular distance is by far the most popular racing distance worldwide and fuels the ambitions of those who first take the plunge into distance running. Watching the likes of Chris Strowbridge and Alex Coffin from the port city area is a real treat. Other speedsters will be attendance so be sure to secure a great viewing spot along Main Street.

The full marathon is always exciting. That gruelling event tests the most weathered running bodies and guarantees the newbie an ultimate test in endurance, capping what for some has been an 18-week journey into the unknown. Two years past buddy Hector LeBlanc was so close to breaking 3 hours! I missed out on the excitement being so far behind.

Let's not forget the weather. This year will be my fifth or sixth event and each has tested the heartiest soul. Hurricanes, pouring rain, gale force winds or sunny and cold. One more bad stretch and I might just opt for the popular 5 and 10km events.

As event director Marie Wilson of Riverview will tell you, this is first and foremost a competitive event. Do something about the wind and hurricanes, Marie. It just happens that Marie and her able organizing committee (Jeanne McNeil, Charlotte Love, Nicole Barrieau, Kraig Colpitts, Bonnie Fenton, Denis Bourgeois, Aubrey Kirkpatrick, Rob Hiscock, Leo Sheehy and Mary Campbell) have excelled at fundraising. I cannot say enough for the people who dedicate their time to any charitable event but in this case, running. It is a year-long activity and involves countless unsung heroes. Reminder: volunteers needed!!