Friday, May 6, 2016

Winnipeg Police Service Half Marathon Race Report 2016

I woke at 5:00 AM for an 8:00 AM start time.

I had a leisurely hot shower followed by a succulent home-roasted, freshly ground, organic, fair trade, cappuccino with a 1/2 teaspoon of organic fair trade, lightly browned sugar, topped with steam-frothed Stony Brook 3% free range, non-homogenized, organic milk delicately swirled over one inch of succulent crème.

This followed by a lightly buttered, thinly sliced, perfectly toasted, Stella's multi- grain sourdough bread, with a generous layer of Nuts To You organic peanut butter, yogurt and fruit.

Ahh, life in Winnipeg’s Granola Belt!

I heart Wolseley.
I was ready for this 12th annual WPS half-marathon.  Having runs six of the last twelve WPS runs, I knew what to expect: perfect organization, hundreds of happy volunteers, an electronic vibe of excited runners dressed in all sorts of techni-colour gear, the military flyover signalling ‘go’ and so much more.  This is the day we’ve trained for, we’ve done the speed drills, ran endless hill reps, humped long slow runs in challenging conditions and survived.  Most of us anyways. We give a nod to the injured, the damaged, the hurting ones, who simply could not make it to the start line.

I slipped into my flat-Mike race gear. At 7:00 AM I organized my dry-bag and drove to Assiniboine Park where I found premium parking. While walking toward the start line to meet some buddies I reached instinctively to turn on my Garmin. My heart stopped. No Garmin!

Flat Mike

Clearly, this old organic free range brain had left his Garmin in the kitchen. This after lecturing my clinic runners to organize themselves the night before so as not to forget anything on race day.

“Leave nothing for the last minute” I lectured them, “Make sure everything e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.  is laid out before you go to bed.”

The irony!

The anxiety!

I contemplated running without the Garmin, but as the 2:05 pace bunny, I needed a solid 9:07 m/m. Twenty or more novice runners will depend on me to dance them over the line in 2:05 or better. To run without a Garmin is like driving through a rain storm without wiper blades, impossible.  

I managed to scoot home in record time to retrieve the Garmin. I dashed. I made it. I cued into the designated corral. 

Finally, I was with my peeps.

All days are good for a run, but the start line, ahh the start, there’s something magical about a start line. The nervous anticipation of something great about to happen. The start line has come to represent all that is wonderful in our world. Exhilaration, happiness, anticipation, community, dreams of what’s possible, flourishing mental health, peak physical performance. Yes, all days are good for a run, but the start line is the sum-total of all those days.

Race director Nick Paulet and his merry crew hosted the best party in town. The WPS Half-marathon is a five-star event that has survived 12 years.  They continue to set the bar year after year.  This race is a world-class event and that is now a cornerstone in the race calendar.

See Mike. See Martial. See Garmin
(photo credit Junel Malapad)
“It all began with one small gesture” says Nick.

In 1994 an Edmonton police officer heard a story about child with cancer who had been bullied because he had lost his hair from chemotherapy.  The cop, Gary Goulet, encouraged a group of officers to shave their heads in support of the boy. They then picked the boy up in their cruiser and drove him all around town proving being bald is cool!

With this one small gesture, Cops for Cancer was born and thank goodness it was.  To date the national Cops for Cancer has raised over eleven million dollars for cancer research. 

The inaugural Winnipeg Cops for Cancer was hatched in 2005 at Nick’s kitchen table.  Two hundred runners were required for the event to break even. Within a few weeks over 1000 runners had registered and the race committee were forced to stop accepting new registrants. This first event raised $37,000, and then doubled that in 2006.  I’m not sure of the total amount WPS has raised for cancer research since 2005, but I do know it’s a big number, a really big number.

To put it in perspective, our friend Joanne Schiewe has raised well over $70,000 in the last two years for Brain Cancer research.  Our Jo has become the face of the WPS Half-marathon (and such an attractive face, no offence to you Nick ;).  Jo is as tenacious and smart as she is athletically gifted.  Heck, she ran a 2:02 half marathon after a year of intense chemotherapy, radiation treatment  and with minimal training.  Ironman indeed!

I count the days till WPS 2017. I thank Nick Paulet and his race committee for their dedication towards this event.  I shout out to the hundreds of volunteers who provide support and nutrition.  Most of all, most of all, I thank you runners for bringing such joy to this old tree hugging, organic cappuccino slurping, free ranged, mildly deranged, slightly north of middle age (okay, way north of middle age) runner.

I may be a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

It is indeed a good day to be alive.