Friday, December 22, 2017

Junel Malapad; Just a Beauty of a Guy

Just a beauty of a guy. 

Ace Burpee (on nominating Junel #3 Top 100 Fascinating Manitobans)

(photo credit unknown)

Who is Junel Malapad?

Junel Malapad is an extraordinarily ordinary person. He's a father of two lovely daughters and he is a loving husband.  He makes his coin as head custodian at a Winnipeg school, and he's the son of blue collar Filipino immigrants. He's shy, humble in his achievements, and soft spoken. His thick black hair, sparkling eyes, slim build, small stature, muscular frame, and youthful grin belie his 47 years. He simply does not stand out in a crowd.

He's also a gifted runner who shares his gift freely. He runs to lighten the load of the burdened, the hurting, the forgotten, the invisible ones.  He raises awareness and money through the simple act of moving his feet.  He gives, and gives, and gives, and expects nothing in return. It's for this reason he is known and admired by Winnipeg's running community.  He is truly, a beauty of a guy.
I have a gift of being able to run long distances and I like to share my gift. I am a regular person that has unexpectedly stepped into the skin of someone much bigger than me. I am a runner who just likes to help out.  Junel
Junel and a blogger named Mike
(photo credit unknown)

Trash Stigma

Several years ago a student died from suicide at his daughter's school. Junel's daughter, was absolutely devastated by the news of her friend's suicide. Junel shares freely his brother's struggle with mental health and how it robbed him of him of his livelihood and happiness for ten years. It was too late to help his brother, but he needed to be there for his daughter should she ever succumb to depression. Thus, the annual Trash Stigma 100 km run was born.  Now three years and growing, the Trash Stigma Run has raised tremendous awareness and about $15,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Trashing Stigma.  Garbage Hill sunrise.
(photo credit unknown)

Siloam Mission

Another cause close to Junel's heart is Siloam Mission. Although not directly linked to mental health, one can connect the dots between poor mental health and living on the streets in -40.  Last year Junel read the story of a person without a home freezing to death on the cold streets of Winnipeg. Saddened by this tragedy he recalled walking his then 5 year old daughter back to their car from an evening at the Forks. She complained of being cold and then reflected aloud "It's okay to be cold for a little while, some people don't have a home.  We'll be warm soon".  Thus the annual Boxing Day Run was born.

Now in its third year, Junel hopes the Boxing Day Run hopes to further raise awareness of the good work accomplished at Siloam Mission.  He has raised several thousand dollars through previous runs which he will probably double and triple as more and more people join his cause.  

Junel wants your help in changing Boxing Day to Running for Siloam Mission Day.  Please join him for a portion or the whole 100 km.  Maps and approximate times are below.

(photo credit unknown)

What drives Junel?

Turns out, this is a complicated question. The answer is an amalgam of the love for his daughters, his wife, and family. Memories of his father, who died from cancer, tugs hard. Dreamy days with family and friends where potlucks abound. His running friends, far too many to mention but several stand out: Al Garlinski, Natalie Pirson, Jonathan Torchia, Robyn Penner, Joanne Noga, Derek Page, and Megan Hunter.  

Junel was also inspired and gives credit to Fast Eddy who ran across Canada twice and raised tonnes of cash for Breast Cancer and Alzheimer's.  Turning 40, then 45 (in a blink). He gives credit to the Running Group Keep Moving Sharing and Inspiring And finally, Junel claims to be inspired by an "invisible force" that connects people in the running community. Positive electrons of goodwill and good cheer travel at the speed of light, connecting us, lighting us, energizing us. We trot peacefully without a worry.

To donate to Siloam click here, then click the donate drop-down menu, then click Change Boxing Day to Running Day. I know you're strapped for cash but even ten bucks helps.  

"Why do people admire you so?" asks this pesky blogger.

"I like to run happy, maybe that's what they admire." replies Junel.

Yes friends, run happy always, and remember those less fortunate.

It's a good day to be alive.


Maps showing Junel's route on December 26.  Help Junel turn 

Boxing Day into Siloam Day

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Timer's Tale; A Guest Blog by Dwayne Olson

Dwayne Olson is well known in Manitoba's running and triathlon community. He is the owner/ operator of Prairie Timing Services (and a new dad!).  In this guest blog Dwayne raises the issue of unregistered bib swapping and how it negatively impacts timing results. If you've ever swapped a bib without bothering to re-register the new runner, you really should read this post.  It's a good day to be alive.  Mike

Dwayne Olson and family.

It’s 4:30 AM on a Sunday and I inevitably ask myself the same question every race day. Why did I choose this part-time gig? The final checks are ticked off my list for essential components and I am off. Every race day I wonder how things will turn out. Will the wind blow my tent over? Will the rain affect the readability of the RFID chips? Is it going to be too cold or too damp to print the results outside? I hope there won’t be too many race day changes amongst the athletes.

Each race morning I have to rush to: speak with the race director, confirm the finish area and set up the read zone in time to refer back with the registration volunteers and update any changes that have been made. This is usually from people dropping down in distance due to illness or a late decision to change due to insufficient training. When my mats and antennas finally test operational and I finish entering the last update it’s time to start the race.

The horn has sound and the race is underway. I match my clocks to 1/100th of a second. The next thing to do is import the chip start times. If this goes well, I’ll be able to use the same computer and present the chip times minutes after the bulk of the finishers have come in. If the chip start import doesn’t go well, I’ll need import the chip starts onto the back up computer later on that afternoon, which would create a lot of questions from everyone at a rather inconvenient time.

As the first runner crosses the finish line, the chip reads and the time registers. I check that the athlete did indeed finish in the proper race as some people tend to change their distance without notifying the race organizers. I breathe my first sigh of relief that everything is in order, however, there are still over 200 racers to go. As the first pack of athletes cross the finish line I’m able to see that they have all read. This may be the last time I am able to confirm that visually as the amount of people crossing the finish line will soon turn into a steady stream making it impossible to do any visual confirmation. I now have to let go and trust everything is in order.

I can see the awards volunteer walking toward me and I start to print off the first set of results. These preliminary results are for awards only and will not include the finishers that came in after the time of printing. I have learned to accept the wave of questions that come from the athletes whose time is missing from the preliminary results sheet and it is an understandable concern from their perspective. At this point in the race I am often looking over at the awards volunteer as their face tells me exactly how their day is going.

Today it has happened again, the awards volunteer is speaking with three women and I already know the problem. The top three women are all well aware that they are they are top three women as they have identified each other early on in the race. The awards volunteer and top three women turn and look toward the timing area with uniform frowns on their faces. They are all nice people and quietly pushing down their frustration so as not to jump to conclusions, however, I know the award volunteer’s day has changed drastically and she is now trying to remain composed. As the wave of frowns approaches me, the awards volunteer asks, “These women claim to be the top three. Is it possible there is some mistake?” “Yes” I reply, there is quite possibly a mistake.” As I speak with the three women I can see that they are absolutely certain in their claim and I tell them, “ I believe you, however, I must confirm that this person is not a woman; can we page this bib number please”? The awards volunteer drops her shoulders slightly in minor disappointment as she knows it couldn’t be as simple as an instant disqualification for the phantom winner.

The awards volunteer then informs the Race Director that the awards presentation must be delayed as there is a discrepancy. The Race Director accepts this fact with the usual pessimistic reaction saying, “Of course, it can’t go completely smooth”. The awards volunteer then starts to page the bib number. After the third page, we have determined that the bib number has probably departed immediately after completing the race. It now remains for us to determine whether or not to award the top three women to the three that have approached us and are waiting with some anticipation or wait to confirm by video. It is impossible to use the video that we have recorded as there are still finishers coming in and we may need to confirm an age group standing. The awards volunteer knows that if she makes a mistake here, it will be very awkward to ask someone to give a medal back and it will be an inconvenience for everyone to arrange a time to switch medals. To my relief the Race Director and Awards Volunteer have decided to risk it and go ahead with awards ceremony. I then confirm the results by video later in the afternoon. It shows a male crossing the finish line with the bib number in question. The person who accepted the bib on short notice has no idea that they caused a major delay in race operations or that a volunteer won’t be back the next year as they don’t want to be put into stressful situation without being paid.

I have come to the conclusion that people run for the feeling. That feeling is often amplified at a running event. There is something great about the running community that we can’t get from our regular lives and I don’t know any race organizer that actually, “does this for the money”. A Race Director often decides to host an event for many of the same reasons someone would host a party. There is a great energy at every event and, just like a party, each event has its own distinct feeling. Just like a party, there are thoughtful guests and not so thoughtful guests and just like a party, the host is most concerned that everyone has a good time. Just like a party, the host may choose to deny someone’s entry out of the desire to ensure everyone has a good time.

Dwayne Olson
Prairie Timing Services

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

We Moved Our Feet For Art City

Photo Credit Blane McFarlane

I prefer science over religion, yet I keep one foot in the pew.

My father was a mathematician, my mother a devout Catholic.  Wherein lies the truth? I was conflicted as a child, tortured through my teens.

I remain conflicted but I move my feet because it makes me feel good.  A selfish concept really, but why not feel good about doing good?

Latin Beat over the Miz Bridge
Photo Credit Junel Malapad
When I first came across the African proverb, Move your feet when you pray,  I was immediately drawn to the simplicity and elegance of the concept. The image of people dancing, and moving their feet, and laughing and actively praying appeals to me. Activism for the good of humanity.

Collectively moving our feet. Collectively creating a movement of peace and goodwill. Collectively praying. Collectively moving our feet for Art City.

I still prefer science over religion and yet I pray.

Thank you to all that moved their feet this past Sunday.  You prayed along my side. We raised $5100. The money will be used to purchase a much needed fancy new inductive stove along with all the special inductive pots and pans.  I like the tangible element of the stove... I can touch it, feel its warmth, taste its offerings.

We Tangoed along Wellington Crescent, Hustled through Omand's Creek, Rocked along Wellington Crescent, Grooved a Latin Beat over the Miz Bridge, and Slow Danced to the finish. It was such a sensuous, gorgeous, sweet slow dance. Four men dancing, hurting, laughing, emotional. Josh, David, Tim, and Mike moving our feet and praying for a better humanity.

It hurt so good.

It was a very tough slog, especially the last two loops, but it was made so much easier knowing you all had my back.  There are too many of you to thank, but one stands out.

My friend Tim.
You are a rock star.
You dance hard.
You are learning to walk.

Tim dragged my ass over the line and I am forever in his debt.  He was there for me at my most vulnerable. I was tired as fuck yet Tim dragged my sorry, beat up ass over the line.

I love you all.

It's a good day to be alive.


Hurt so good and Tired as Fuck references with thanks to John Mellancamp and Gord Downie

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Moving My Feet for Art City; 341 meters, 782 steps.

Come join me, move your feet for Art City.
On December 3, 2017 I am moving my feet for Art City. I will run ten loops of the Wolseley Avenue/ Wellington Crescent trail in the hopes of raising $3000 for Art City. Tomorrow I run my last training run, 24 miles, then the sweet taper. Loving the taper!

The total distance is 58.341 kilometers, that's 341 meters beyond 58 kilometers, a mere 782 steps from finishing. My mind will be numb, my eyes moist, and my heart and bones spent.  If you can lend your support, this is where I will need you the most...341 meters from the finish, a mere 782 steps. I won't be pretty, but I will smile and wave, guaranteed.

Truth be told I have never run 58.341 kilometers. I've come close, but never 58 kilometers and never in the winter. If I succeed this will be the greatest physical accomplishment of my entire 61 years.

I am running to support Art City. This is not about ego, it's about doing good. It's about being an art-citizen. It's about moving our feet, figuratively and literally, to strengthen our community. It's about making our city more accessible, more inclusive, more kind.

Anxiety sets in as race day approaches.  Am I strong enough?  Can I do this? Am I eating right?  Do I feel a cold coming on?  What will the weather throw at me? Do I have the correct gear? And on and on... the anxiety rolls through my brain... relentlessly....3 AM haunts me... seemed like a good idea at the time... what was I thinking.... Only runners will understand.

I can do this. It will be hard, really hard, but nowhere near as hard the work accomplished daily by the volunteers, staff, and board of directors of Art City who work tirelessly to improve the human condition of West Broadway, an under resourced neighbourhood not unlike Vancouver's Lower East Side or Toronto's Jane and Finch. Where some see blight, Art City sees hope.

As of this moment this campaign has raised $2390, or about 80% of the $3000 goal.  If you have the means please consider donating by clicking here.  You can also share this post to your friends, colleagues, and family. And finally, please join me at anytime on Sunday, run or walk, cheer, smile, wave, and especially that last 341 meters, 782 steps, that's where I will need you the most.

See Mike Run for the Mun, Dash for the Cash!

When you pray, move your feet.

It's a good day to be alive.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Cuddle Kitties for Art City... training for Moving My Feet

About midway through today's 31 mile training run for the Moving My Feet for Art City event  I had a full-on explosion of an idea!

"Oh, oh" says wife.

Jennifer and I are caring for a mother cat and her three kittens for three weeks.  Here's the awesome idea....

Why not make the kitties work for their kibble and grow some cash for Art City?

Serious blogger at work.
Barn Hammer Brewing Company, 595 Wall Street, Winnipeg
Starting today, for the very low price of $25 (all funds payable to Moving My Feet for Art City), you can cuddle kittens in a nice warm room, on a comfy chair, in front of a crackling fire with a pot of tea, with a playlist of your choice. And, if that's not enough, you get a tax receipt!  It's like free kitty therapy.

Group rates available.  

Kidding of course... I'm still a little delirious from the run.  Come and cuddle kitties anytime (but  be prepared for some arm twisting).

I had the good company of Carly for 11 miles this morning (and Tim, Lynn, and Darcie on previous runs).  We talked Netflix (Ozark), podcasts (S Town), books (Kindle vs paper) friendships, children, relationships, work challenges, and on and on.  We chatted, and chuckled, and listend respectfully.  It was an affirmation that all is right in the world, and it is indeed a good day to be alive. The miles passed quickly and comfortably.

We danced along Wellington and grooved on Wolseley.

What will our $3000 contribution mean to Art City? What are the tangible results? Can it be measured in quantitative terms? For sake of argument let's say yes. In quantitative term $3000 will buy... oh I don't know... let's say:
  • 1000 paintbrushes or,
  • 30 gallons of paint or,
  • a wheelbarrow full of googly eyes or,
  • nutritious snacks for a month or,
  • who cares?
I have no idea and I really don't care, and neither should you.

It's the qualitative experience that excites me. What will $3000 buy in qualitative terms?  I say with certainty our $3000 will buy:
  • an opportunity for West Broadway youth, who do not have the opportunity as their same aged peers in other areas of Winnipeg, to explore and express their creative potential in a warm, inclusive  environment.
  • a dedicated and caring staff whose primary goal is to make all youth (and adults) feel accepted, valued, and safe.  
  • an anchor for the community where citizens of all walks gather to celebrate life.
  • a residency program featuring artists from (literally) all over the world who roll up their sleeves and work with West Broadway youth for a week, developing incredible art projects and then another artist and another week, then another....
  • a weekly outreach program that services 6 communities city wide.
I can keep going but I think you catch my drift.  Art City cannot be measured in quantitative terms (as much as the beancounters would like it to be that simple). I've said it before but it bears repeating here:

Art City:
  • is a lifeline for West Broadway,
  • fills the cracks and voids of social programming and access to mental health opportunities,
  • is a beacon of possibility, a place of hope, a bed of positivity.
How can one possibly measure that in quantitative terms? 

I'm shooting for $3000.  At this moment I have reached $2015, a little more than two thirds of my goal. 

Come for kitty therapy and help close the gap.  Like a kitty on your lap on a cold winter afternoon, you'll feel warm and fuzzy all over.  Click, click, click....

To donate please click here or click the widget on the sidebar.

It is, without a doubt, a good day to be alive.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for.

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for.


The Lockport Rivers Edge Run is proposing a full marathon option to their very successful 1/2 marathon/ 30 km event.  They are requesting our feedback so here goes.

What's not to like? I think it's a great idea and it will be an nice addition to a busy autumn race season. Let's not forget the Treherne full marathon or the recently announced MEC full marathon, plus the many half-marathon events and 30 km events in and around Winnipeg and Grand Forks including Chicago, Minneapolis and Regina.

Will the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Run finally take the leap to 26.2 in 2018 and upset the proverbial apple cart?  Only Jonathan knows for sure, but my money says yes.

With due respect to the RDs and planning committees of Rivers Edge marathon and MEC marathon their events are local community events that will attract 25 to 50 runners at most.  I'm not sure why MEC is even considering a marathon event given they cater to trail runners. If they want to expand they should be looking at a 50 km ultra... not a marathon which falls clearly in the domain of road runners.

The point is, and admittedly it's a selfish one, quite simply I still haven't found what I'm looking for. The Lockport and MEC marathons will never be destination runs.  They will forever cater to a small market in an very crowded field. It's a lot of work to pull off a marathon (if done right) and the payoffs can be intrinsically rewarding but financially less so.

Would I run their marathon? Sure, providing their event fits in with my training schedule and budget. Neither event would be a destination, more of a goodwill community event.

This blogger suggests MEC and Lockport enter this field with eyes wide open, especially their first year.  Runners have come to expect minimal requirements.  The weather can make it or break it so consult your crystal ball. And for goodness sake, whatever you do, don't have participants run two loops of your half marathon event and call it a full!

The Lockport Rivers Edge Marathon and the MEC Marathon will never be 'destination' runs. You need look no further than Treherne. That's not a bad thing, it's just the reality.

I'm looking for a big city marathon that attracts international elite runners with cash prizes.  I long for a Winnipeg autumn Marathon that is at least as big as Regina Marathon (can the bar be set any lower.. kidding, I love Regina). I wait with baited breath for the courage of a race director to step forward and yell

Yes! We can do this!

The trouble with Winnipeg is we think small.  We need to start thinking big.

It's a good day to be alive.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

When you pray, move your feet.

Art City needs our help. Founded in 1997 by internationally acclaimed artist Wanda Koop, Art City is committed to providing professional *free* art programming to West Broadway inner-city children.  They maintain six outreach locations and provide nutritional hot meals to dozens of hungry West Broadway children six days a weeks, fifty-two weeks a year. 

Art City is all that and so much more. It is the heart and soul of this diamond in the rough West Broadway neighbourhood.  Indeed for many of its citizens, Art City is a lifeline. Art City fills the cracks and voids of social programming and access to mental health opportunities.  Art City is a beacon of possibility, a place of hope, a bed of positivity.

Presently Art City is in financial distress and calls upon us to move our feet.

African proverb.
On Sunday, December 3, 2017 I will run ten loops of the Wolseley Avenue/ Wellington Crescent trail for a combined total of twenty bridge crossings and fifty-eight kilometers (thirty-six miles). Start time is 0600 from my front door.  The goal is to raise $3000 for Art City.

Please join me.  Move your feet. Run, walk, cycle, or wheel a loop or two. Throw money at me as I run by (throw more if I'm crawling), or make a secure online donation by clicking hereAll donations of $25 or more will receive a tax-receipt.  

God tweeted. She's giving a free pass from church on December 3 if instead you move your feet for Art City. 

It's a good day to be alive.


Friday, October 27, 2017

Run Pender. Die Happy.

If I had a bucket list -which I don't because life itself is a bucket list - silly concept really -  there would be a big fat check-mark next to Run Pender with the postscript die happy. Herein lies the impressions of a proud and happy flatlander from the centre of Canada, Winnipeg.

Pender Island is next to that other island called Salt something-or-other, a stone's throw from God's Waiting Room, aka Victoria, off the coast of multi-million-dollar-bungalows, Vancouver. 

Hippies in tailored down MEC fashion and Birkenstocks tread the trails of Pender (the rich wear L.L Bean and Eddie Bauer). The preferred ride is Yaris and Prius or, if you prefer, smile and wave at a passing driver and a ride is assured.  Pender's vibe is contagious. Cool is a toque with knee-high white socks and sandals. Pender is wine, cheese, craft beer, blackberries. Pender's beauty is sublime, unparalleled and overwhelming in simplicity of lifestyle. 

We are enchanted with the locals, particularly Old Dave, whose deck we helped rebuild with re -purposed cedar planks, aged Scotch, and homemade hootch. That was a good day, but truly, you had to be there to appreciate the moment. 

Run Pender. Die Happy.  I hope you enjoy this little sliver of happiness from my vault of enchantment.

It's a good day to be alive.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

WFPS Half-marathon 2017, 10 km, 5 km Race Report.

I see through the lies of the Jedi.  I do not fear the dark side as you do. I have brought peace, freedom, justice, and security to my new empire.

Darth Vader (episode iii, Revenge of the Sith)

Race Director Jonathan Torchia awards a medal to Ethan.
Photo credit unknown.

Fifth grader Ethan has captured the heart of the entire WFPS Half Marathon 10k & 5k race community. Ethan loves Star Wars, particularly super villain Darth Vader. He also loves his 14 year old sister Jenna (aka Miss. Darth Vader ;) despite her relentless teasing - although I imagine Ethan holds his own against Jenna. All in good fun. Ethan is about as 'normal' a boy as you can imagine.

Except he's not.

Ethan has a rare condition called congenital myopathy unknown.  His mom Lorraine explains.
He has muscle weakness. Normal things people do without thinking are hard for Ethan. Getting dressed, going up and down stairs, picking up his backpack, sitting too long, walking too long, all of it! Every day is a struggle for him just to get through the day. In addition to his weakness he has chronic pain in his back, neck knees, and feet which on some days is debilitating. Exhaustion plays a major role in his life. 
His outward appearance is strong.  He looks well, acts, thinks, and speaks like any other 10 year old boy, but his disease can never be dismissed. "It is" says Lorraine "the elephant in the room". It nags incessantly and anxiety looms large at night between the sheets. Ethan's long term prognosis is tenuous but the family, especially Ethan, remain optimistic.  This is a family that understands the power of love and optimism.

Ethan and his family ran the 3 km 'Shake Out Run' to commemorate the opening of the hugely popular 6th annual Fire Paramedic Run. The pain and discomfort Ethan experiences is symbolic of so many who struggle daily. These people are the true heros of our beautiful community.

The elite runners are gifted and we are grateful for their elegance and speed. We love the fast ones, but our community is about more than speed and personal bests. We are about love and inclusion. We accept all that have the tenacity and the courage to lace up and drag their butt to the start line.  Through pain and struggle we run, wheel, walk over the sweet white line to cheers and tears.

L to R Wanda (family friend), Dad, Ethan, Mom, WFPS Run Ambassador.
Photo credit Cheryl Stewart. 

Showing up is 80% of life. Sometimes it's easier to hide at home in bed. I've done both.  Woody Allen, 1977, Annie
Today we showed up.
Today we were simply amazing.
Today we cried and laughed.
Today we danced over a line in ecstasy.
Today, as all days, we are grateful for the Ethans of the world.

Yes, Ethan is a hero, but so too are you. We persevere and we move forward.  We accept what life has given us and we run happy. We show up when it would be so much easier to roll over and blissfully sleep away life.

I leave the last words to Ethan's mom, Lorraine.

Today we continue to fight. We fight for a boy with a rare muscle disease. Fight to get him the support he needs at school. Fight for others to understand, friends, family, teachers. Fight for the medical community to understand what it's like to watch your son struggle with strength, fatigue, and chronic pain. Fight for them to understand we often feel forgotten. Fight when they tell us our son is getting weaker. Fight when they tell us a day will finally come when he requires a wheelchair. Fight when they tell us his heart and lungs may become affected.  We fight for E and we #staystrong. Always.
See Mike Run
Photo Credit Junel Malapad
With gratitude and thanks to Jonathan Torchia and his 700 volunteers.  You make us happy.

It's a good day to be alive.


For more information on Ethan's condition click here.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sparking the Dream; An Autumn Marathon in peg City?

If I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it right.

Jonathan Torchia, RD WFPS Half Marathon (5 km 10 km)

Jonathan Torchia WFPS Race Director
The Common, Winnipeg

Several weeks ago See Mike Run waxed poetic about a made in Winnipeg Autumn full marathon. I imagine a dreamy course with no holds barred; a course that showcases Winnipeg's strength and diversity. Having run thousands of miles along ancient river trails and achingly gorgeous cityscapes, I feel compelled to share the dream.

Jonathan Torchia also has a dream, but his dream is hampered by bureaucratic red tape, sponsors, time away from family, and dozens of other considerations.... more of a nightmare really.

"The trouble with dreaming" says Jonathan  "is your dreams quickly get crushed."

Jonathan's dream of hosting a full marathon began on November 3, 2014 and nags him incessantly to this day.  This is the day he first plotted a full marathon course. My blog prompted Jonathan to "restart the conversation" and "spark the dream".

We met at The Forks Common for a pint of Torque Red Line. We dreamed audaciously, laughed, talked, and sipped.  The outcome of that pint? We both believe an Autumn marathon in 'peg city is entirely possible and, in fact, imminent.

Despite his bubbling enthusiasm and kryptonic credibility in the running community his dream stalls out in bureaucratic quicksand and complicated logistics.  The naysayers are a dime a dozen and pray hard on positive energy. When all you hear is 'no' time after time, year after year, one's confidence wanes and needs the occasional spark to remain alive.

I Have A Dream was that spark.

I suggested the WFPS RUN offer an option to run the course twice and call it a full marathon to which Jonathan replied,

"That's garbage! The WFPS RUN Race Committee would lose all the credibility we've built up over the years. If I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it right."

To be perfectly clear, planning and executing an event of this magnitude is daunting. Like fallen boulders on the path to success, multiple obstacles need to be tunneled under, climbed over, traversed gingerly, or just simply blown to smithereens. It will take pluck, leadership, and an unwavering commitment to accomplish this herculean task.

Street closures, police support, signage, volunteers, medical support, municipal government, red tape, money, time and dozens more all block the path to success.

"People don't realize the cost of closing down a street" says Jonathan. We need someone with "deep pockets" and then rattles off the names of Winnipeg's wealthy in the hopes they would commit or at the very least, lend support.

Smaller races like Ted's Run for Literacy cost about $5000- $7000 to host, plus another $4000 to $5000 which we donate to literacy programming in Winnipeg's inner city. We require about 70 volunteers to run smoothly. WFPS RUN costs between $150,000 to $175,000 and requires approximately 700 volunteers. Both are gold standard events which could be delivered cheaper and with fewer volunteers, but you the runner would notice. You would vote with your feet and be inclined not to return.

You can get it cheap or you can get it good, but you can't get it good and cheap (to borrow a carpenter's phrase).

"What would it cost to host a full marathon?"  I asked, "what's your ballpark number?"

"Probably an additional $50,000 to $75,000" replied Jonathan.

There's a reason why most running events in Winnipeg are in the south west quadrant of the city. Neighbourhoods like Wellington Crescent, Wolseley, Fort Garry, Lyndale, Kingston Row, Churchill Drive are in the south west quadrant of the city and all hug the Assiniboine or Red Rivers.

"Road races in Winnipeg" explained Jonathan "hug river neighbourhoods. They are quieter streets requiring fewer closure and less police presence".

My Dream Marathon is not going to happen anytime soon. You may recall a recent film shoot on Arlington Bridge created about 7000 street detours. Closing Portage and Main and other downtown streets for a marathon would be a logistical nightmare.  I maintain it's possible, but won't happen until our population exceeds one million.

Jonathan receives no financial compensation for the weeks of planning. In fact he happily donates much of his vacation time to the WFPS RUN. He loves our running community and is passionate about road racing and cycling.  He's on call 24-7 for weeks leading up to and following the RUN. Heck, he's a triathlete with his eyes on IronMans and BQs and he holds down a full-time paramedic job.... wait... there's more.... he's recently married with family on his mind!

When I asked if he would add a full marathon event to the WFPS he replies "No one in their right noodle would take this on in a volunteer capacity."

There wouldnt be enough time in the day to hold down a full time job, tend to his family life, and manage a full marathon on top of the annual sell-out WFPS Run. The demands on time would be staggering. Think for a moment dear reader... would you raise your hand?

"What if you were offered a stipend equivalent to half a year's pay?" I asked.

Silent pause...

"I would have to go down to part time" he muses.

"We'd have to cap it at 200 runners. Our first priority is safety and the impact on our citizens. Can we make this happen?" he asks.

And then answers his own question.


Mike and Jonathan
Sparking the dream or pint logic?

We're just two guys dreaming with a pint in hand. I wax poetic while Jonathan considers logistics. I dream while Jonathan calculates. A  right brain/ left brain match made in marathon heaven don't you think?

An Autumn Full Marathon is imminent.  Mark my words, it will happen.  The only question remaining is who will own it?  Will it be 10-10-42 event, an MEC event, or the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic RUN event?

My money is on the latter.

It's a good day to be alive,


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Ted's Run for Literacy, Race Report, a Guest Blog by Donald J. Trump

We are going to have an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout for Ted's Run for Litracee, and there will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars. All the running stores are sold out in Winnipeg. It’s hard to find a great pair of shorts for this race.”

Donald J. Trump

"Ted's Run for Literacy is great, no one knows this better than me"
Donald J Trump
photo credit Tim MacKay
This is the best race in the free world.  It's the biggest, the fanciest and I ought-a know. I run a lot.  I don't want to be bragadacious but I'm fast, very fast. I ran for president and I came in first... ha, ha.. sorry Hillary you lost! I'm great, you're not.

Jon Torchia thinks he's great, but he's not. He's not even a little bit great. His little WFPS Half's not even a full marathon... It's a not great. It's small. So small. And it's not good.  

The Manitoba Marathon is not great. Rachel Munday calls herself a race director. Rachel is not great.  She can't even spell Monday, and it's her name!  How not great is that? Rachel Monday is not litrat. It's small, her event, so small. And tiny too, like my hands.  Hillary likes small things so she should run The Manitoba Marathon. It's not great.

I want to make litracee great again. I think everyone, even the Mexicans should read boks. I'm Hemingway with tweets and stuff.  I think Mexicans are great.  I get along great with the Mexicans.  

Ted's Run for Litracee is great and See Mike Run is great. He's a great race director... so much better than Jon and miss-kant-spell-her-name. He's litrat... I tweet his blogs all the time. He's a good reder too. He's like glue, krazy glue, that holds this race together.  He's so great!

My people say ...and we we had drones in the sky... there were 20,000 to 25,000 runners in the 5 km event and another 40,000 in the 10 km... eat that Jon and miss-kant-spell-your-own name-Monday... you're so not great!

That MEC Race over at Birds Hill Park, it rained. It rained uge. Lightning and thunder.  It was bad.  Really, really bad.  Everyone hated it.  They're not great. Ted's Run for Litracee had blue skies and sunshine. Everyone was dry.  MEC was ugly, really, really ugly. So much thunder and rain. People were dying everywhere. 

Who's Ted?  I'm sure he's great, but is he really great? He's just a teacehr, a baby sitter really. He's FIRED! I have millions of tweets asking me to take charge... "okay, okay" I tweet back "I'll do it" ... I'll change the name to Donald Trumps Run for Litracee. I'll bring Mexicans and other people like them... you know crooks, drug dealers, and prostitutes. They need to be litrit and know one knows this better than me.  

It's a good day to alive... you listening Kim Jong-un... 

Donald J Trump
President of The United Sates of America

Editor's Note: This blog is intended as satire. The 'real' author holds Jon Torchia of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Half Marathon, Rachel Munday of the The Manitoba Marathon, and the MEC Race Series in the highest esteem. They are, and continue to be, leaders in our community.  MB

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Street Feet Run Well, Point Douglas Race Report

Waldo, Intrepid Reporter, and Mickey.... hanging out in Point Douglas.
Photo credit Bridgette Robinson.
There is something in the air around the Point Douglas Norquay Community Centre that's fresh and energizing.  Maybe it's the lingering smoke from the community oven or perhaps it's the sweet grass blessing, or the musty, mighty Red flowing softly by and by.

Yes, there's something in the air, I can't quite nail it, but it's lovely and welcoming, sweet and warm. I love this neighbourhood, this race, this spirit, I love it openly with all my heart.

"This is how we do it in Point Douglas"
Mwaka Kaonga
"It's the community I love" says Bridgette Robinson "it's what makes me happy." Bridgette is one of five committee members who volunteer tirelessly year round to bring this event to life every September. It's a small event of about 100 participants which raises about $2000. The money is divided equally between the Graffiti Art Program, Norquay Community Centre, and the North Point Douglas Women's Centre.
Point Douglas Women's Resource Centre, 221 Austin
We need to support small, local, independent, non-corporate running events before they are swallowed by large, for-profit events.  I run to support the Women's Centre because it's a beacon of hope in this diamond-in-the-rough neighbourhood.  Our premier (don't get me started) has significantly reduced funding to the centre and it's at risk of closing. A cheque for just under $700 is in the mail from the Point Douglas Race Committee; it's not much, but every cent helps!

Run local, you'll feel good.

This 6th annual Point Douglas run is a true gem.  The course is grand old Winnipeg riverbank and bridges.  We run on mud trails and take short cuts through backyards and back lanes.  The police flash their siren and cheer runners from their cruiser. We bring smiles to locals and startle dogs on leash. Children and adults laugh at Waldo and Mickey and wind blown reporters, brides and bananas... and we run, and we laugh deeply from the belly.

My how we laugh.
And we talk.
And we philosophize.
And we are blessed by elder.
And we wonder.

Oh and the food? It's prepared on site by none other than Talia, owner/ operator of The Tallest Poppy another local independent Winnipeg gem.  Do you need any more reasons to put this race on your radar!  Didn't think so.

North Point Douglas Women's Centre
Vision and Mission Statements. 
So dear friends, please support your local, not-for-profit running events. They add such texture and colour to our neighbourhoods.  And, if you happen to have an extra $20 why not donate it to the North Point Douglas Women's Centre. They really need it and you will feel so damn good. Skip church tomorrow and move your feet.

Yo, it's a good day to be alive.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Winnipeg Investors Group 10 10 30 2017 Race Report

"Perfect" is the superlative that immediately comes to mind when reflecting on today's annual Winnipeg 10 10 30. Everything ticked and hummed like a BMW convertible cruising the Autobahn.

The course has improved since the last time I ran the 30 km in 2014. The stretch along Sturgeon Creek is spectacular (another superlative... they just keep coming). The best change from my eye is the absence of the annoying 'add on' penalty lap through Assiniboine Park's Formal Garden on the return. I hate penalty laps!

The volunteers were Winnipeg's finest with smiling faces and lots of curbside cheering.  The water stations were located strategically along the 30 km course offering both water and Gatorade.  One station even had some granola bars which really came in handy (thanks Kathy).  Just when I thought, "hmmm I need some hydration", there appeared a group of smiling happy volunteers only too pleased to assist.   The only pet peeve were the teeny plastic cups for water, holding 2 ounces at most.  At every station I had to ask for a second or even a third. This is obviously wasteful and time consuming for the busy runner with his eyes on the prize.

My favourite water station. But what's with all that green?
Photo credit Lorraine Walton

It was also nice to see Steve J managing the timing.  You know the results will be flawless when he's at the timing-helm.  Aldo Furlan managed the back half of the 30 km ensuring things were done right and to his high standard.  Lorraine Walton was busy on the course stocking water stations and providing good cheer and hugs. The lead cyclists and sweeps, Pietra, Bill, Dorothy (and others) were outstanding (loving my superlatives), and kept us safe.

Race Director, Chris Walton, is proving to be an asset in Winnipeg's running community. A complete neophyte several years ago, he now has a solid track record of successful events.  He has a tremendous team behind him, but the buck stops at the race director. Everything from pins to bibs to emergency plans, go through the race director.  It's an onerous task, some say thankless.  Well done Chris... you do us proud.

An open question to Chris;  why do you not kick this course another six kilometers down Sturgeon Creek making it a full marathon course?  Just asking, not to take away from today's incredible (superlative) amazing (another one), magnificent (is that too many) 10 10 & 30.

Oh, the coolest thing about the 30 km course? Carly and I agree it's having a cop stop traffic, even busses, while we tear freely through red lights. Now that's cool!

It's a good day to be alive.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

I have a Dream

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

John Lennon

I dream of a Winnipeg Autumn marathon.

Now don't get me wrong, I love the Manitoba full marathon. In fact, I believe it is the premier running event in Winnipeg and, as a community of runners, we should run proudly alongside this event. When executive director, Rachel Munday took the reins two short years ago the marathon had stalled out and was losing runners to Fargo ND in droves. Sadly, it had digressed to a maudling 2-star, 2-bit race that was more about the half-marathon than the full.

Fortunately, Munday's creativity and abundant energy has breathed new life into this fine event and has upped it to a 4 stars and, knowing Munday, she won't stop until it's reached the status of Minneapolis or Chicago!

Why should we be proud of the Manitoba Marathon?

Since its inception in 1979 the Manitoba Marathon has raised millions to assist people live independent lifes, to move them out of institutions into the community. Whether it's a $200 grant to buy IKEA furniture to furnish a room in a group home or $1000 to buy specialized medical equipment, the Manitoba Marathon Foundation is there to support our citizens lead productive, meaningful, and independent lives. It's our marathon, our little bump on the prairie, our hometown pride.

Rachel Munday presenting a cheque to Jessica to assist her in living independently
(Photo credit, unknown)
Winnipeg is ripe for a second full marathon either in September or October.  In a recent See Mike Run poll asking: Would you support a fall marathon in Winnipeg 92% replied yes, 5% said no, and 3% were unsure. 

The 10, 10 & 30, Running Room sponsored event almost got it right, but they came up short by 12 km. On the plus side it's in the fall, it's very well organized, they've worked through the red tape and street permits, but why stop at 30 km when 42 is the prefered choice?

I have a dream (with apologies and reverence to Martin Luther King).

See Mike Run proposes an entirely new marathon from the ground up with no hidden agendas or egos. I dream of a marathon that inhales the full diversity of our peg City. One that leaves us breathless (literally and figuratively) and attracts international elite runners along with plebs like me.

I do not want a start line in the burbs (been there, done that). I do not want to run down old wealth, Wellington Crescent or through Assiniboine Park (been there, done that). I want to start at Portage and Main and finish at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights
(photo credit unknown, CMHR 

I want to weave through the Exchange and over the Esplanade Riel. I want to run through the French Quarter to the sound of fiddles and bagpipes. I want to be cheered down Main Street, past Thunder Bird House and Neechi Common with sacred drums and jingle dancers. I want to make noise on grand old Selkirk Avenue with local activist, Michael Champaigne ringing the Bell Tower for peace and tolerance.

Esplanade Riel
(photo credit unknown)

I want to breathe in the Exchange with the option of stopping for a pint of 1919 at Little Brown Jug. I want to stop traffic at Portage and Main and be dwarfed in the magnificence of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

I have a dream.

I want to run along grand old Scotia Avenue, through magnificent Kildonan Park, over the Chief Peguis bridge and return along Kildonan Parkway, through the achingly beautiful Elmwood cemetery. I want to traverse the almost unknown Disraeli foot bridge and return via historic North Point Douglas along Anabella (named after a certain woman of the evening) and past Jordan Van Sewell's funky art studio on the banks of the Red River.

I have a dream.

We need leaders in our community to step forward. We need the Manitoba Runner's Association to take a stand, to provide leadership and experience.  We need the movers and shakers of the running community to join the dream, people like WPS race director Nick Paulette, WFPS race director, Jonathan Torchia, and MB Marathon executive director, Rachel Munday to combine their talent and expertise to make this happen.  We need people like Box Cox of the Winnipeg Free Press (a fine runner in his own right) to grab onto the idea and run with the concept. We need our mayor Brian Bowman to recognize the possibility and make it happen.  We need corporate sponsorship with deep pockets such as Lulu Lemon or Goodlife to take a risk and join the dream.

I have a dream.

And we need you, dear reader, to make your thoughts known.  We need to talk it up on our runs, during the post run coffee, in the evening over wine.  We need you to step up to the plate, make some noise, and make it happen.

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

It's a good day to be alive.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Manitoba Marathon 2017, We Run.

Photo Credit Janice Matthewman
(used here with permission)
We run. 
We move our feet. 
We propel ourselves forward. 
We pray and cuss. 
We sweat and bleed.  
We laugh through hurt.  
We are humiliated. 
We are honoured.
And we give thanks.  

We honour a fallen father, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend.  
We pause.
We reflect.
We hang a medal on a tombstone, and then we cry.
This thing called running.
It's what we do.

This pesky blogger regrets not running today. His confidence fell a notch or two recently and he chose a comfortable path. No regrets, but a little disappointed in self.  But I dwell on self when self is meaningless and egotistical. Running is about life and community.  It's higher order thinking and spirituality.  

To say we reach a state existential existence is preposterous, laughable, to those who have not experienced complete and utter exhaustion. The exhilaration of giving all you have and then digging deeper... and deeper, and deeper yet. We run through hurt and humiliation, tears and vomit, and yes, even a little pee. 

Until we step over the line.  This is when life comes to focus.  This is when tears flow and our minds open to higher order.  We are all that we can be in this moment... it's fleeting, it's beautiful. As we step over the line we are perfect in our imperfection... our minds are soft, our bodies spent. 

Today I saw dreams smashed, dreams foiled.  I saw tears and laughter.  I saw you gritting and screaming.  I saw life unfold in slow motion and it was grand.

So to you, the hurting, the depressed, the sick, the survivors, the obese, the injured, the short ones, the wheelers, the 'one step from suiciders'.. what you have accomplished today is extraordinary. No one can ever take that away from you.

You inspire us.

You make us proud.

You are all that you can be.

I can only hope my moniker "it's a good day to be alive" will never be seen as trite or insignificant. Tomorrow is unknown, but today...

... is a good day to be alive.


PS 19 pictures ...

Jenna, a gifted runner

The 3:50 Bunny is amazing!

I love the young. They bring such fun!

It's a good day when Jeff is on the course!

Everyone's favourite ultra-marathoner, Melissa. 

Pietra is lovely.

Rod, a kindred spirit in age and profession.

Scott is a gentleman and a friend.

Professor Christopher Frand rocking the course (again).  

Jonas, nothing stopping him!

From extreme ultras to tri's to marathons, this girl is amazing.

This is my group... 4:15!

Derek gives so much and expects so little inreturn.

Janel... the sign says it all.  

Carly, TRL Social Media wizard. Isn't she amazing!

These ladies trained 800 km for their 1st marathon.

 I love this guy... TRL's Registration Chair

And Darcie, everyone's favourite runner.