Blah, BLah, BLOG
What another amazing weekend at the Victoria Goodlife Fitness Marathon. The event gets better and better each year. With the help of the Nanaimo Lions, Zone 7 and Chris Morrison, we had a stellar year! Chris had brought together some amazing guides for our sight impaired runners, with some of them having never guided before. You would never of known it was their first time. Words cannot express how I felt meeting these wonderful young people! Friday, Chris and I headed out for a couple hours drive to Victoria, dropping off our dog to the kennels on the way. We arrive at our hotel, checked in, and off to the race expo, again, meeting great people and discussing future races as VI runners participating to new ideas for smart phone apps. Chris and I picked up everyone's race packages and guide bibs. To our pleasant surprise, the Goodlife Fitness marathon has put in GLVM jackets along with their guide bibs and timing chips. This was the first event with guides ever getting the full race package. With 16 bright green bags in our hands we walk through the crowds of the expo and headed back to the hotel. As evening approaches, we were ready to pick up two of our American sight impaired runners from the airport. We were happy to see Richard and Corvin (both from California) looking well and pumped for the weekend. Saturday afternoon, we met with all the guides and sight impaired runners (most registered participants came to the meet and greet) and the energy was already rising with great excitement for tomorrows race. Dinner was absolutely delicious, Blue Crab Catering did a wonderful job of bringing out a fantastic buffet for all the hungry runners. We were well fueled for race day. I look around the room watching everyone engaged in their conversation, smiles, laughter and friendships. I felt very proud to be part of this. Chris and I work hard to fundraise for this and to see it all come together seamlessly was a feeling of great pride. Lion pride.
Chris was the first to be awake, making his oatmeal, I opened my eyes and actually felt well rested. I am so proud when I see Chris all donned in his running gear and ready to take on the 26.2 miles. He is unstoppable, off he went to the early start, and I mean early...6:30am. I was feeling quite confident and ready to do this thing! Nic and I met Jodi down in the lobby and Jodi was already chatting up a storm, that made me smile. I knew we were going to have a great run. We walked to the start line and the energy around us was building, photographers shooting, announcements on the loud speaker, and the horn is about to go off. I choose the 5 minute early start as i feel comfortable with no crowds and to have the opporunity for the elites to pass by. I great experience for 2.5 seconds! Even the elites had wished us a good race as they flew by. The weather was perfect, as per usual. Cool, but not cold, overcast and NO RAIN! It meant I could run with hearing aids on. Did you know, I have been running this event since 2004, and only once in the last 10 years, it rained? I don't mind running in the rain, but I prefer not to. The gun went off and away we ran, we were all feeling so good from start to finish. The run seemed effortless in all 21.2K. I enjoyed the company and the guidance of two great guides. Nic and Jodi were awesome, they made the miles disappear quickly. I even did not notice the Dallas Road double hills. Usually that is the toughest part of the run for me. The support of the runners passing by, the crowds along the sides were giving us encouragement and cheers. I thought to myself, 'this is a great event, its no wonder we come back every year!' Throughout the run, I wondered how Chris was faring on the course. As we were entering the park, a woman yelled out something, and all I heard was my name. Nic said "did you hear that Rose?" I said "no", so Nic had told me that there was a woman on the side of the road saying "Way to Go Rose and Chris says HI!" and quizzically i try to figure out who that woman was. It turns out (as I found out after the run, talking to Chris about this woman) that this woman was a volunteer race marshall and Chris had stopped to tell her to give me a message. What a beautiful man Chris is, he knew I would be thinking of him and wanted to let me know he is doing okay. It was such a nice touch to my already perfect run! We finished strong at 2:07 and placed 1st as a Vision Impaired Champion in the 1/2 marathon. Not bad for an ol' gal. :)
I want to thank so many people for making this weekend special, George Hajecek for coming out from Ottawa again to guide, you are such a wonderful person! I hope to see you next year. Nic Tickner, Jodi Weber, I hope you guys keep guiding, because you are great at it, Judith LeRoy, for being there for us, especially at the last minute, Trevor and Keiran Ruck, Chris Thorne and Chris Koch for trying something new, and doing a terrific job guiding and last but not least, Jerry Krall once again coming back to guide. Standing ovation for you all, THANK YOU!
Some comments from other runners:
"Over the years I've raced many races and competed at all levels. I can honestly say that guiding has been one of the best running experiences of my life. Not only do you share the sport you love with another but at the same time, you are part of something much, much larger. To help someone achieve a goal who has overcome so much, just to get to that start line, is humbling and a major honour. To all those VI athletes, thank you for your trust in me and for letting me be part of your journey. "
"Rose Kamma Sarkany and Chris Morrison made the Victoria Goodlife Fitness Marathon a VIP experience for all those involved. It started with their Canadian hospitality upon arrival at the airport and didn’t end until they put us through security at the end of the weekend. Highlights included a wonderful pre-race dinner at our host hotel with other VI runners and guides, meeting new friends, and spending down time with others on this common journey of vision loss, guiding and endurance sport. The race itself has something for everybody, whether you are a walker, marathoner, or want to run the 8K or ½ marathon options. It’s so close to Seattle that it’s almost not fair to call it an international race. Canadians have to be some of the friendliest and most courteous people on this planet. If you are looking for a destination race, why not choose one that makes the VI VIP?"
Richard Hunter (Folsom, CA)
Visually Impaired Marathoner, Ultra Runner
Chris T -
"One of the most unique running experiences I've been lucky enough to have today. I was able to "guide" for Greg Tonge (white tank top) today for the last half of the Victoria Marathon. Greg is visually impaired and running his 48th marathon. "Inspiring" doesn't begin to describe the whole day...
Big thanks to Nic Tickner for the encouragement and for linking me with this community!"
I had the opportunity to guide Rose alongside fellow guide Nic and really just had an overall lovely experience. We chatted the entire way and worked well together as a team. I had a lovely run and felt very inspired and thankful to be able to assist Rose to be able to take part in the event. When I need to dig deep during any race I often remind myself of those less fortunate that are not able to run at all. This always pulls me through and to be able to enable another runner to be able to continue doing what they love is just a wonderful experience. I feel you guys are an inspiration to many people that have various disabilities. You portray that limitations should not be limitations at all; we just have to adapt sometimes. I look forward to incorporating guiding into my running lifestyle and thank you guys for this wonderful opportunity not only to give back but also to meet new friends along the way :-)
Chris M -
It is, and continues to be an incredible event, which, with the support of the Fitness Goodlife marathon organisers, athletes, guides, and volunteers continues to go from strength to strength. The support of our local 'Front Runners' should also be recognised. Our host hotel yet again provided great service and an exquisite banquet.
Being chosen as our Lions Clubs International, Zone 7 project this year was of course special too. Enabling us to provide technical vests to the athletes and guides running under the banner of 'C Us Run' sporting a unique logo.
Having been part of the 'Running for Change' campaign since it's inception in 2009 I continue to believe it is at the forefront of raising awareness not just for the Visually Impaired/blind on a national and international stage, but also everyone whom society labels with a perceived disability.
Nic T -
First of all I would like to say thank you. Thank you for the lessons. Lessons that show me so many things, you and Chris showcase love, attention and caring support through each other's hurdles. You showcase what it really means to chase down your dreams backing yourself the whole way. You not only make things happen for yourself but you put your heart into ensuring that other people, strangers can live their dreams as well.
I arrived on Saturday to Chris' beaming smile ready and waiting as my bus arrived and that set the tone for the rest of the weekend.
We met the rest of the athlete's both VI and guide's and shared smiles, stories a fantastic dinner (kindly supplied by running for change) and a little bit of each others world. Many of us meeting for the first time and with the experience ahead were going to be a whole lot closer by the end of the following day.
The following morning Rose and I toed the line and with Jody. The race itself was a great experience working together to make sure we all got to the end safely and with a giant smile at the end (maybe a few grimaces in the middle). The endless support and encouragement from fellow athletes is my favourite part of race day.
After every race day I enjoy the reflection, the reflection that makes me oh so appreciative that even toeing the line in any manner is an option and a reality. To be able to share that, and help facilitate that for some one else in the smallest way is the very least I could do and brings joy to my being. This race day reflection will stick with me for life. To all the VI athletes out there I say thank you. Thank you for showing me that no matter what, I need to chase my dreams and follow a daily path that keeps me happy, sometimes we will have to work harder for it than others, but as long as I continue to strive for this result I am headed in the right direction.
I look forward to the next time I get to don the guide jersey and share an unforgettable day with another beautiful soul.
Thank you to Chris Morrison and Rose Kamma Sarkany for hosting such a wonderful weekend and all that you do for many communities.
Nic Tickner - A fellow human in admiration of many
Thank you to all for sharing your experiences on my blog. I cannot express my gratitude to you all, Rose.