Thursday, July 31, 2008


A few days ago, our Running Club got together for our once-a-year "Gala" to hand out a few awards to those runners who left extra special impressions on us over the past twelve months of training and racing. I had the privilege, as President of the club, of choosing the recipient of the "President's Award", no easy decision by any means. When it came time to announce the winner on awards night, I declined to read the words that I had written about the winner, opting instead to read aloud a heart-felt email that had been forwarded to me by her sister a few days prior. So let me take this time to talk about this year's recipient of the "President's Award".

First off, we'll refer to the winner simply as "Hop-along", so as not to identify or embarrass her, she's much too modest to pat herself on the back and even more so to let someone else do the patting. From the first day that our Running Club started, "Hop-along" stood out from the group. While the rest of us looked like newbies, a little awkward and apprehensive, she looked like a runner, her form so simple and sweet, she made it look so easy. And as the weeks went by, I came to realize that "Hop-along" loved running, even as much or more than I do - she connects with every foot-strike, she savours every stride.

But for "Hop-along", it's been a tough year battling sore knees and a pain-in-the-butt piriformis muscle. We've joked from time-to-time that we're sharing the same injuries, the same struggles, but watching "Hop-along" deal with her setbacks, I came to realize that she simply gets it, while most others don't. I told her a couple of weeks ago that I hope the rest of the group learns a lesson from her and from her approach to running over the past several months. She's smart. She knows when she's hurting and when to pull back - she sees the bigger picture and foregoes short-term gains in favour of a long-term running career - her ego never leads her in the wrong direction. And as frustrating as it has been for "Hop-along" at certain times, you'd never know it unless you sat down with her and asked the right questions, that's just the way she is - she'd rather hear about your successes than talk about her own struggles. She'd rather encourage her teammates than explain her own pain.

But for all her struggles, it was still quite a year of accomplishments, sore butt and all. Just within the last few months, "Hop-along" completed her first half marathon, an 8-K, and most recently her second go at a local 10-miler, and while she may have been a few minutes slower than last year, I couldn't help but notice a smile on her face as she crossed the finish line - a smile as big as her heart, as energetic as her spirit.

So it is with great pride and privilege, that I award this year's "President's Award" to a wonderful human being and a pretty darn good runner. I promise you brighter days and memorable runs are in your future.

Congratulations to someone as sweet as Suga'.

Congratulations to Heather.

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