Community Love and Running and Win Free Things

    Love and Running and Win Free Things


    Big Sky Run Company is an independent running store opening next month in Winnipeg that was founded in love. Owners Caroline Fisher and Josh Markham, pictured above, were both university athletes and a friend connected them fifteen years ago. “Oh, you’re a runner. How fast do you go?” Fisher remembers asking Markham at Cousins, a local bar popular with kids from the university. “We started running together and eventually running together meant ‘running and breakfast’ and ‘running and Scrabble in the park’ and, well, the rest is history—we’ve been married ten years.”

    Still feeling the warm fuzzies from Valentine’s Day, and trying to connect with the heart of our sport, we reached out to readers and asked them what is it about their running shoes that connects soles to soulmates. Many of our readers met their match on a run. 

    “My husband and I met at a local running store that had a Thursday night run. We continued running every Thursday night until I couldn’t push our two boys in the stroller because they got too big. To this day, our favourite date includes a run. This year will be sixteen years together,” said Megan-Workman-Major, a reader in Thunder Bay. 

    “I met Noel Paine when we both became ambassadors for Ottawa Race Weekend. Running is what connected us, and we’ve been together ever since,” said Ottawa’s Nina Ryan, pictured above.

    Marathoner Iana Kotliarova said: “My boyfriend and I met through Midnight Runners Toronto at the start of the pandemic. Still running a year later and we ran the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon together! Next stop is the Chili Half and then Boston for him this year and, next year, Boston for me!”

    It makes sense that hormones should fly on the run: people are perspiring, endorphins kick in; in the summertime, you’re barely clad—plus, there’s shared lifestyles, common goals, plenty to talk about, mutual interests and friends, and all those post-race beers. Who else will empathize with your taper crazies? Holidays in Berlin or Tokyo and forgetting about all-inclusives. Runners like going somewhere far and expensive—dedicating our vacation time to eating spaghetti and bagels, pushing ourselves on a run.

    “I think for any couple it’s nice to have a goal, but running gave us something we could share and provided a shorthand: whether recovering from an injury or dealing with post-marathon blues, it’s a language we have in common,” explains Big Sky’s Caroline Fisher. “I think it’s probably the same for two musicians who are partners—somehow on a deeper level, runners intuitively understand what another runner values. Between Josh and I, running is an anchor for the relationship we share.” 

    We’ve long since wanted to create something like a Missed Connections portal on Sportstats, taking a page from Craigslist, which was a personals section where singles described the person they saw, but couldn’t muster the courage to meet. How many times have you seen someone at a race or a run and thought: Wow, if only I was as fast as her, we could fall in love? 

    “I remember running the Philly Marathon and saw this gorgeous guy running much faster than me. I tried to keep up with him,” says Joanne Merrett, “but unfortunately I didn’t catch him. I never saw him again.”

    Hope springs eternal in running, and we’re always trying to find something different, whether it’s in a new training program, race, or shoe. You have to be optimistic to be a runner. Why else would you spend six months chasing a dream? In that same sense, you also need hope to embark on a relationship, to settle down with someone, to open a store like Caroline and Josh in Winnipeg, or be like Megan and her partner, and have two kids. How does running, like love, keep you hopeful? Last week, we started a contest with On, the great Swiss shoe brand, and asked readers to share how running made them feel good. We’re going to extend this contest through Friday. Tell us how running gives you hope, and On will set two lucky winners up with socks, headband and a toque.

    We still have a ways to go to get through winter. Share how running makes you hopeful—and smile at the next stranger you see who just might make you want to share closet space for your sneakers for life.


    1. Running with my group and solo reminds me that no matter the weather or my mood when I start there is a good chance that at least one will improve by the end of the run. So especially when I’m having a rough day thinking about a run gives me hope that things will improve. And so far they always have improved. Thank-you Running!

    2. When I run I am always happier than before. But most importantly when I go to races, I see people of all speeds and shapes that run, just simply because it makes them happy and seeing that makes me cheer others on. That gives me hope that people can improve their lives and build a sense of community as well. My hope is that we can become healthier as a society. Not everyone can run I realize but the mindset that is built from running or even watching others run is so uplifting.

    3. I just left a comment but not sure if it will appear as I was not logged in. I go to races and watch others run for all different purposes and there is a sense of joy or hope when I go. I really like interacting with others and enjoy cheering everyone on. My hope is that we become healthier as a society. I realize not everyone can run, but even watching others is so inspiring to me. It makes us feel good and clears our minds.

    4. Though I didn’t meet my significant other through running as many did in these stories, we’re both sporty and have completed several trainings, half marathons and triathlons together! Very rewarding to both train and have someone support your goals. I was also able to join a local running group in Ottawa and for the past couple of years, I’ve met some really great people through the love of running. A couple of us are gearing up to take on a 30k this March and then likely all of our first marathons this fall! My S/O will be cheering me on from the sidelines and join in on a couple of training sessions to help keep me motivated 🙂

    5. Running is how I found my queer community… and my partner.

      After experiencing a very low point in my life, I made a goal to get more involved with the queer community in Montreal. My friend suggested I join OutRun, a queer/sapphic running group that meets once a week. Before the first run I attended, I had always gone running alone. I was so nervous arriving at the meeting point but the other runners immediately made me feel welcome. We talked while we ran and we talked even more afterwards. When so many queer events focus on partying and drinking, it can be hard to find spaces that allow you to properly connect with and get to know the other attendees. A few weeks in, I realized that I was coming for the post-run chatting and coffee just as much as (if not more than) I did for the actual running.

      Since the weather has gotten colder, OutRun has also held events for cross-country skiing, skating, hiking, rock climbing, Gaelic football, HIIT classes, and more. It has also given us the opportunity to support local queer-owned businesses; after our runs we visit queer-owned cafés and we attend classes at queer-owned fitness centres.

      The night before the second run I attended, I met an amazing girl at a party. I followed her on Instagram before she left and I shared an OutRun post in the hopes that she would see it. We both showed up at the run the next morning. Over the next few months I looked forward to seeing her at the runs every week. We became very close friends and developed feelings for each other. Eventually, she made a move (thank you, Evie), and the rest is history.

      We challenge each other; our runs together are always faster than our runs alone (maybe we are still trying to impress each other a little). We plan running dates together to try out new routes. This year for Valentine’s Day, we ran in the shape of a heart in the Montreal Old Port. She convinced me to sign up for the Ottawa half-marathon and the Montreal marathon together. I would never have thought I could do it if it weren’t for her.

      I have now been leading a weekly run for OutRun and am hoping to get even more involved in the community. I have made so many wonderful friends at OutRun. We get together for each other’s birthdays, attend each other’s non-sport-related events, and go to other events in the queer community together. OutRun’s founder jokes that she can’t wait for the weddings to start happening.

      I can’t understate how much running has connected me to love, support, and community, at a time in my life when I needed it the most. Joining OutRun was the best decision I made this year. I will never again feel like I have to run alone.



    6. More than a decade ago my husband said I couldn’t run & so I signed up for a half marathon to prove him wrong & so my running journey started. I’ve now run a handful of marathons as well as an ultra & my biggest accomplishment yet? Convincing my inactive husband to run not 1 but 2 x 5k’s last year! Finally, vindication & he really enjoyed them & experienced why I now love running so much.

    7. After being hospitalized the last half of December 2022, each run I am able to do give me hope that I will finish my first Boston Marathon even if it’s a couple hours slower than I want it to be since I am still recovering from being intubated and in a coma!

    8. Running gives me hope as there is always support from fellow runners. It doesn’t matter where you are or your pace, we are all there to have fun.

    9. Running is the best medicine to balance both physical and mental health. Would recommend it to anyone who is able to run.

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