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. Grab a pledge sheet (coming soon) and bring it to the office. 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.  

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Spruce Woods Ultra 2017, 50 km, Race Report

Tim and Mike at finish.
photo credit, unknown (SWU Facebook)
"Drag your own (expletive) ass across the line" barked a testy Mike to his good friend Tim.

Mike was dehydrated you see, grouchy, sun burned, and retching on all fours.  This was at 35 km and Tim, good soul that he is, kindly offered  to stay by his side for the full 50 km.

"I'll help you get to the finish line.  I'll stay by your side." he said.

Mike's reply was nasty and out of character.

Several runners stopped out of concern for Mike's wellbeing.

"Whoa, is he okay?" one said.

"Don't worry" said Tim "he's just doing his afternoon prayers".

"Say a Hail Mary for me" yelled an anonymous runner.

"Yea, and an Our Father for me" said another.

I managed a feeble thumbs up, and a drooling half-smile while looking upward  like a chained junk-yard dog.  Heat, wind, retch, endless hills, humiliation, sarcasm, exhaustion, ... all in all, a good day to be alive.

Spruce Woods Ultra Marathon is a  humbling experience and an unforgiving trail. It tests the limits of human endurance in terms of physical toughness and mental agility. The hills are endless and vary from impossibly ragged goat trails to curvaceous ribbons of unicorns and butterflies.  The scenery is Manitoba sublime; blue sky stretching across horizons, whitewater streams, placid secret lakes, bright meadows, culvert fishers, dark forest ... leave us helpless, helpless, helpless. 

The course is marked with coloured orienteering flags; orange for outbound, blue for back home, and pink for primal torture(?).  Flags that matter are always on the left. If they're on the right you're surely lost! Confidence flags are staked every kilometer or so and multiple flags, often of several different colours, are generously planted at the convergence of trails and other areas of potential confusion.  As a non-orienteering person I had little trouble staying on course, but I studied the map intensely before the race. Some runners added kilometers to their distance by falling asleep at the switch and missing key turn-around points (man, that must suck!).

I first recognized signs of dehydration on the pink trail. ("P" primal torture)  The wind was cool and suckered me into believing the temps were also cool.  Runners are fully exposed to wind and sun on the out-and-back pink trail. It's not a terribly long section, but it seemed to burn me out more so than the distance would suggest.  I became nauseous (not unusual for me) and then, more troubling, I realized water was causing discomfort.  Under the caution of too much information I  let loose several loud and very satisfying long burps which cleared up the nausea however temporarily.
Cool Shirt
photo credit Jason Enns (Facebook)
It's widely known that once one recognize the signs of dehydration it's too late. You can't catch up by glugging water. I trudged on and on, stopped and vomited, trudged, stopped, vomited ... you get the sorry picture. It was definitely not my finest race and most definitely not the prettiest.

I managed to haul my own sorry ass across the line in 7 hours 30-something minutes. It may not have been pretty, but it was sweet like a pint of Barn Hammer 7th Stab, Red Ale, more so actually (and I love 7th stab just so you know).  Someone gave me a woodle (Ultra wooden medal) as I slow danced over the line.

I was greeted by Tim.

"I was worried about you" he said.

"Worry about your own (expletive) sorry ass" I replied.

Yes, See Mike Run can be downright pesky at times, surly even, especially when he's thirsty and over heated.

With thanks to race director Dwayne Sandall and his crew of over 100 extraordinary volunteers. I owe them thanks for helping me achieve this impossible dream, this 50 km SWU Ultra. I have many more years behind me than afore and this badge means the world. I also extend thanks to the lovely woman with gorgeous full body tattoos who stayed with me, crouched down and comforted me, as I retched at 49 kilometers.  I also owe thanks to the medics who cycled on course to check on my health.  I am forever in gratitude, forever humbled.

And to Tim, thank you friend. You had my back. You made me laugh through pain. You made me see success when I saw failure.

I am humbled by the experience.

I am thankful for my strength.

I am in awe of life.

I leave you with this quote from Scott Sugimoto (AS2) that exemplifies the quality of volunteers. These are  not mere volunteers, they are angels with flat coke and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Unless you have a bone sticking out somewhere...I will personally DO WHATEVER necessary, to get you on your way down the trail!

It's a good day to be alive.


Spruce Woods Ultra Results by the numbers

Sunday, May 14, 2017

I Am Not Your Inspiration. A guest blog by Natalie Pirson

Natalie Pirson, everybody's favourite person, is strong and independent. She's bad ass and dreams audaciously. She wheels through life and has a smile that melts rock.  While others hope to shave a few seconds off their PBs our Natalie dreams larger, much, much  larger.  Enjoy this guest blog by Natalie Pirson.  Mike

I am not your inspiration thank you very much.
photo credit Kelly Morton Photography
Saturday, May 12th -- the day before the Winnipeg Police Half Marathon and my second year participating in the half marathon event. 

I was at breakfast with my run club, (shout out to Winnipeg Run Club!) and I jokingly asked my good friend, Junel, if it was possible to shave an hour and a half off your previous race time from the same event. The good friend that he is, he didn't make a wisecrack or tell me it was a lofty goal.

photo credit Facebook

I knew it was a lofty goal and most likely not physically possible. I figured if I wanted to get any faster, I would need to get an even lighter wheelchair.

My time last year for the WPS Half Marathon 2016 was 5:36. When all was said and done on May 13th 2017, I finished with a time of 4:08. 1 hour and 28 minutes faster than the previous year. Damn proud of myself, I tell ya, and I don't say that often.

How was it possible? I believed I could do it. Racing for me is 90% a mental game. Physical training is important, of course, but to me, training the brain is even more important.
photo credit Facebook

Another noteworthy detail... I was wearing bib #2. Everyone who reads this blog knows Joanne Scheiwe's name and what she has done for the community. I did not have the privilege of knowing Jo but I know that she wore bib #2 in her final WPS half marathon last year. I knew I had to do that number proud and leave everything out on the course.

And finally, there is the running community as a whole. It is second to none. As an introvert and someone who does have a fair amount of anxiety, I was apprehensive in approaching people and I have to force myself to get other. But, I always get out there because I know my life will be better for it. The people I've met, the dear friends I have made, the encouragement and support I have received... Being a part of this community has changed my life in so many positive ways. Running has given me so much more than I could ever give it.
photo credit Facebook
So, I'll finish with this quote from a TED Talk given by another person with a disability. "I'm Not Your Inspiration, thank you very much." I'm not an inspiration because I have a disability and I get out of bed in the morning or because I go to work, or just generally live life like a lot of us.

But those of us who have the courage to believe in ourselves, set goals, crush them, fail and pick ourselves up, try again, keep trying when life beats you down... Sounds kinda cheesy but we're all a little bit inspirational in our own way.

Natalie Pirson
It's a good day to be alive.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

You must look...

Look.  See.
photo credit thehipdotcom
Perhaps you saw the headline, Master's Style Green Jacket Bought for $5.00 and sold for $139,000 USD.  It's a mystery.  How did a 1950's Masters-style jacket from Augusta National Golf Club end up in a Toronto thrift shop? 

The plot thickens... the original owner's name was carefully cut from the inside lapel which adds to the intrigue.  The imagination is sparked; colours, textures, emotions, wonder  flood the brain. The authenticity of the jacket has been confirmed by the famed Georgia club yet the original owner remains anonymous.This ugly green jacket, this insignificant blip in sports history, this cotton nothing has intrigued the golf world.

One saw the beauty, others saw ugly.

The headline story reminds me of my late uncle Bernard.

Bernard was an amateur art collector with a sharp eye for art and an even sharper pencil for negotiation. While shopping with his brother at a Winnipeg thrift shop in the 1960’s he came across a small oil painting. An insignificant, dirty, old, nothing of a painting. 

He looked closer.  He moved to the sunlight and his heart skipped a beat. He smiled and he choked a muffled tear.

The letters emerged through the dirt of time...

maurice cullen

Group of Seven, Anne of Green Gables, You Are Ahead By a Century, Acadian Driftwood, Wanda Koop, Maurice Cullen... 

The quintessential Canadian eureka moment.  

Bernard and his brother pooled their resources and paid $5 for this Canadian Masterwork which, in 2005, sold for $200,000.  

The mystery remains and adds to the intrigue. How did this iconic piece of Canadian history, this Canadian beauty almost come to oblivion in a Winnipeg thrift shop?  

It was salvaged by Bernard, a person who saw the beauty where others saw dirt and insignificance.

When we run we can choose to see sunrise or  darkness.  We can choose to see beauty or dirt. We can run with negativity or passion. It's our choice.

Choose wisely my friends, and proceed with passion. If you choose to see beauty you must first look.

I choose to run with the Jos, the Meems, the Tims, the Scots, the Davids, the Melissas, the Darcies, the Stepahnies, the Junels, the Connies, the Scotts, the Carlys, the Sandies, the Natiliess  of the world... and many others who see beauty where others frown and judge. 

We choose light over darkness.

We choose positive energy over negative.

At the moment of sunrise where it's mostly dark save a sliver of light on the horizon, some see the darkness, some see the light.  

Today a grade 9 student at a Winnipeg school chose to end his life. I saw the aftermath. We failed him.  We did not look. He saw despair.  He chose darkness.

It's a good day to be alive.

We are ahead by a century.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Were you a Nicole or a Mery?

Ted's Run for Literacy is a proud supporter of Can U. The other evening Can U's executive Director, Roger Berrington spoke passionately of the work they accomplish to promote social justice for children who may not have the opportunities others may take for granted.  Can U was one of ten NGOs shortlisted to present a three minute pitch to vie for cash prizes offered through Winnipeg Foundation.  Can U, University of Can, won "The People's Choice"along with a $5000 cash prize. The little race that could loves this little group that can!

The following is the three minute pitch delivered by Roger Berrington.

It's a good day to be alive.


CanU students, Roger Berrington (centre) 
My name is Roger Berrington. Mery and Nicole inspired me to be the founder and volunteer Executive Director of CanU. Were you a Nicole or a Mery?

Nicole was a kind and hard-working, raven-haired young woman with dreams of studying medicine and helping others. University was the norm for Nicole’s family and she excelled at her prestigious high school. In Winnipeg, 92% of the Nicoles, who have ample opportunities and resources, graduate from high school. Nicole is now realizing her potential and fulfilling her dream of becoming a doctor.

Mery was a kind and hard-working, raven-haired young girl with dreams of helping her family start a brand new life in Canada. Mery had great potential but limited resources and opportunities. The oldest of 6 children, she had lots of responsibility at home, and had to work hard to learn English and catch up in school. In our city, 47% of the Merys graduate from high school.

CanU, the University of Can, specializes in recognizing potential like this, turning obstacles into opportunities and connecting the Merys and Nicoles in mutually beneficial and transformative ways. Beginning in grade 5, CanU kids travel weekly to Nicole’s universities where they can see their own potential and share in a whole new world of possibilities.

With $10,000, CanU will build on its track record of combining social innovation with leadership development. We will launch a brand new program; a social innovation version of Dragon’s Den. With the help of mentors, CanU kids will turn our city’s obstacles into opportunities for social change and pitch their ideas to potential partners.

CanU began as a pilot program for 15 kids and now, six years later, inspires 1100 youth and university students through 70 university-student-led programs.

· Now, university labs are crowded with dreams as Medical students, like Nicole, and CanU kids discover together remedies for chronic social barriers.

· Now, the smell of confidence fills the million-dollar research kitchen as Nutrition students and CanU kids cook together and share meals and recipes for health and friendship.

· Now, the beautiful sound of justice fills the campus courtroom as Law students and CanU kids together experience fairness and equity.

· Now, Mery, who has just graduated from high school, has a dream of studying Law one day.

My name is Roger Berrington. Mery and Nicole inspired me to be the founder and volunteer Executive Director of CanU.

CanU imagine if Mery and Nicole were here today to see what they inspired?

(At this point Roger pointed to Mery and Nicole in the audience and they stood and received a thunderous applause.)

Roger Berrington, Executive Director, CanU.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Great Grain Relay Race Report

Team Malicious... Dez, Mike, David, Mimi, Sara, Shelby
Oh my, what a glorious day to be alive!

Dez was our ringer, Mimi gave it her all, David kept the spirit light, Sara added sparkle, and Shelby kept us honest. Me? I danced like no one was watching.

We were in it to win it, but sadly we missed third place by a sliver to a team called Your Pace or Mine. We ran 147.75 laps while YPOM bested us by a few lousy meters.

Team Malicious had a scrum meeting in the final minutes... how to beat YPOM?...Desperado David pulled a bag of marbles from his kit suggesting we trip them up..."YES" we yelled...but honest Shelby kept us honest and spoke of ethics and fair play and other boring stuff. We finally agreed the only option was to run like hell, to dance hard and furious, to give it our all all... 

...and we did, we ran like hell, it hurt us, it elevated us, it sucked, it elated, it deflated, it left us heaping on the track gasping for oxygen.  We gave it our best.

We danced a good dance, but we came up shy.

We lost to a team called Your Pace or Mine.   Our friend Joanne Schiewe was a founding member of YPOM and I wanted to kick her butt. To honour her by dancing hard and giving it all. Joanne was on my mind in those final laps. She cheered track side... go Mike go, dance Mike dance... and then she laughed.

She left me in a pukey, sweaty mess on the track.  Like many of you, dear Jo lives in my heart, my legs, my blood, my bones. She whispers. She encourages. She chats incessantly. She laughs as I heave in the corner.

See Mike Run like hell.
Photo credit Junel Malapad.
The 35th annual Great Grain Relay was a uge success, a grandocious affair, no one was fired, all were welcome.  Fun was in the air and the tunes were loud and poppy.  A couple of youngsters handed out 'speeding tickets' entitling runners to an instant prize. Sandwiches, chips, fruit, vegetables, and beer were plentiful. The vibe was positive and uplifting throughout the event and the groove was contagious.

The proceeds to this year's Great Grain Relay are directed towards Kidsports, So All Children Can Play, an organization whose prime purpose is to remove financial barriers that prevent kids from playing organized sports. Kidsport believe no kid should be left on the sideline and all should experience the positive effect of organized sport.

I love my community.  I believe Winnipeg is the finest city in Canada. The Great Grain Relay is just one more validation, one more reason to love our peg City.

It's a good day to be alive, all sweaty and out of breath.


Mimi wins FIRST Prize! David is there to record the event. 

Junal and Mike.. a selfless selfie.