Thursday, February 20, 2014

Run with the Wounded Warriors B.C. relay team

The goal the Wounded Warriors B.C. Relay Team set out to accomplish was to run 600 km in 6 days following the eastern coast of Vancouver Island to raise support for soldiers suffering with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). When I found out that they were open to having runners join them, I checked their route on Google maps, and saw a 22km section from the Parksville to Lantzville legions scheduled for a 2 p.m. start. It looked doable for a co-worker, Sal Barrie, and myslef to complete. As the team came through the Comox Valley I met with Dan Bodden, one of the organizers of the run, at the local legion to find out if we could link up with them for the Parksville segment of the relay. To do this we would need to sign a waiver, and get permission from our chain of command at work to have the afternoon off. We would also have to take two cars, and leave one in Lantzville so we'd have a way to return when we were finished.

Aside from a small set back with my running gear (I discovered, just before leaving, as I was putting my running gear on, that my cat had peed on my gym bag the night before - soaking my two Dry Fit tops), everything went according to plan. When we arrived at the Parksville start we were greeted by the mayor, and the president of the legion. The media was there to catch the runner's arrival. We had a quick introduction to the team, and then departed, heading south, along the edge of old Coast Highway 19. Steve Kobayashi was our first Wounded Warrior running partner. Having already covered close to 60 kms the previos three days, his IT band was giving him problems. We let him set the pace. The sun was out, and the air was still cool, so it was perfect running conditions. Steve told us of how they were hit with heavy snow the first two days on the north of the island, and were dodging snow plows. The segment we were on was timed to be about a two hour run on the schedule. A long gentle down hill about 6 kms in helped to speed us along as we leaned into it and picked up the pace. Unfortunately what goes down on Vancouver Island usually goes up. The second half of the run included several big hilly sections that put some burning into our legs. George Beatteay, a SARtech from 19 Wing Comox, met up with us around 10km in. He took over for Steve. With all of us being from the same Airforce Wing we had a fun time talking, and were looking forward to finishing together.

We got lost in the last few kilometers of the run by following the directions of a lady in a mini van at the side of the road who told us we were going in the right direction to get to the Lantzville legion. I thought she was a volunteer for the race so I didn't question her. Turns out she wasn't. The police escort we were supposed to meet, finally did link up with us just before we hit a big hill that climbed up toward the finish. With police siren tooting ahead of us, and and fire engine with lights flashing at the rear, we approached the legion where a good sized crowd was gathered to greet us. I couldn't have imagined a better welcome. They presented us with a check for $300 to the Wounded Warriors Foundation. There was coffee and and a spread of desserts waiting for us too. We finished the 22kms in around 1:55 hr, ahead of the scheduled time. My thanks go out to all the volunteers who helped to make this happen, and to the courageous runners, Allan Kobayashi, Dan Bodden, George Beatteay, Jeremy Buckingham, Steve Kobayashi, and Steve Deschamps.

Donations to the Wounded Warriors Foundation can be made HERE

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