Community In Praise of the Run Club Leader

    In Praise of the Run Club Leader


    In the middle of February it takes something extra to carry on with our running. It’s cold. Dark. Time for Netflix and empty calories and too many drinks on the couch. Except, that’s not what any of us wants. That’s not why we buy sneakers and make big spring goals and are known to our friends as “runners.”

    Last night that something extra was provided by Mike and Maya Anderson, the owners of Black Toe Running, the shop from which I’ve been running through the winter and the muck. We had an “Equalizer” race along the waterfront in which the entire club reported their 8K time and were then released in waves, the idea being that everyone finished together. There must have been 40 people racing hard on a dreary Wednesday night, a dreary Wednesday night coming after so many other dreary Wednesday nights of cold and grey. But here’s the thing: all of us were smiling.

    I know Mike and Maya aren’t the only ones. I know Peter in Vancouver and Bert in Montreal and Ray outside Ottawa and Noel in Calgary are constantly doing things to shake things up for their people, for their friends. Things need shaking up for most runners. I run a lot. Run marathons. And it’s hard to get out of the house after working all day, picking up the kids, and then taking what feels like my first breath at 6:30 p.m. The wine is right there! Things like The Equalizer keep me—keep us—on the road, where we want to be. It’s just sometimes, times like now, we can use a little push. Thank you to everyone encouraging the rest of us not to give in, not to give up.

    All of you probably have that person in your running life who goes beyond the pale and improves the quality of your relationship with your sport, your passion. It’s like that friend who helps shape you into the person who you want to be.  Yeah, I’d be running without Black Toe. But I wouldn’t have been laughing my head off at 7:45 in the cold as I screamed out in the dark and hustled like Reid Coolsaet to catch that frisky Chris Rivera, who consistently beats me in all of our practice runs, and will probably push me to a new PB. It’s not the PB I’m chasing. It’s the laugh in the night that reminds me I’m alive.

    Who helps you make it through winter? Who in your running life gives more than they take? Here’s your chance to acknowledge the good guys—tell us who you want to thank and include their picture and we’ll make a little Canadian Good Runner hall of fame. Here’s to the person who picks up the race bibs. Here’s to the one who messages you to get out of the house Sunday morning and do your long run.

    Running is amazing on its own and we all know the reasons. But it means so much more when you have a leader paving the way. To you, we say cheers.