Sears Run – Ottawa to Montebello

Sears Great Canadian Run to End Kids Cancer

The Sears Great Canadian Run to End Kids Cancer is more than a Run. It is an incredible experience that will challenge you physically, connect you emotionally, and inspire you long after the day has passed.

While cancer is terrible no matter what a persons age, I think it is especially sad and devastating when it happens to a child.  The big question is Why? What causes a child to get cancer when they haven’t been exposed to some of the life style choices adults can make?  That’s where the research comes in.  That takes money!

Half of the donations are distributed to local pediatric oncology hospitals and organizations in the cities where the Run takes place (in Ottawa that is CHEO) with the remainder going to national pediatric cancer research initiatives such as The Sears Childhood Cancer Fellowship at The Hospital for Sick Children.

In total there were about 30 teams running.  Most of the teams would run one or more legs, while some of the teams such as “Good Guys Tri” were all doing the full distance.  I was a team of one (me) and I was doing it solo. Fortunately I had an excellent support crew (my kids) who made were where I needed them to be and who made sure I had everything I needed and were always encouraging!

The weather forecast for the run was not favorable at all.  Although all the participants were hoping for a better day weather wise, it was not to be. It rained pretty much the whole day.  While at times the rain was light, there were times where it was just pouring! I had initially thought that I would change clothes and shoes 4 times throughout the day, but I ended up only doing it once.  Partly because it took a long time, especially when I would have to re bandage all my blisters due to the fact that when the socks came off so did the band-aids and because I realized in the second half I would need every single minute so as to make all the cut off times.

At the outset of the run, everyone (all members of the various teams) ran a 500 metre loop and then the first leg began.  After the first five km which was a loop around the aviation museum, along the river and then back to the museum we were on our way. As we crossed the road we entered the bike path…..about a kilometer or so along the path I came to a fork.  There were no signs and to the right there was a large tree branch right across the path.  I figured that we had to go left as surely someone would have moved the tree branch.  I kept on running and came to the end of the path only to see that I was right back from where I had started!  I asked the guys who were directing the runners if they knew where to go and the paramedic who was on a bike (he was following the last person in run) offered to show me where to go.  Sure enough there were no signs although this time around, the tree branch had been moved….so now I was on the right path – albeit having added about 2.5km to the run.

With this run,  one had to maintain a 8 minute per kilometer pace (mpk) and if you were slower, you would effectively have to be be driven to a further checkpoint.  Up until about 50km my average pace was 6.5 mpk, but then I started slowing down. My calf started to really hurt and I was worried that it was going to stop me from continuing.  As I wasn’t close to the next checkpoint, I texted my kids to come and find me because I thought I had packed my salt tablets….turned out that was the one thing I had forgotten.  I then asked them to go to the next checkpoint and see if they could find Mike Stashin who was crewing for the Good Guys Tri team and who had told me if I needed anything they were sure to have it.  Fortunately my kids caught up with him just as he was heading to the next checkpoint and were able to get the salt tablets.

Although I was drinking a lot of gatorade, it probably just hadn’t been enough.  The pills helped to settle it and I also found that when it flared up, if I walked for one or two minutes then I could continue again.

At this time I was playing leap frog with a girl in front of me who was also doing it solo.  It was when we were running almost together that I noticed a run vehicle following us.  I didn’t see who was in the car, but I thought it was the ”sweeper’ who would pull us off course if we weren’t going to make the checkpoint cut offs….needless to say I felt somewhat stressed about that, until I realized it was the paramedics who just had to follow the last person.

At 73km, a car pulled alongside me and asked what I was running – he had just seen the event marshals help me across the road. I explained what the run was for and that I was running it solo….he pulled out his wallet and gave me some money for the charity….very nice indeed!

By this time, around 75km I had slowed to an average of 7:20 mpk.  At the checkpoint around this time I was asked if I was going to pick up my pace  (I had to chuckle at being asked if I was going to be picking up my pace….no not any time soon) because if not then I would have to get a ride to the next checkpoint as I was running out of time…..I found that odd as my page was faster than the 8mpk required.  I explained that I was still on pace and continued.  I fully understood that if I was indeed slower than the required pace I would have to be driven to the next checkpoint so as to get back on pace.  That said, as I started running I realized it was my extra k’s that were putting me off pace.  So, I had the kids drive me 2.5 km ahead so that it would now look as though I was on pace.  The organizers were able to track our whereabouts and pace as everyone had been given a gps unit to wear.

Now I was feeling a bit of pressure as I had to be at the next checkpoint by 6 and the one following by 6:30 especially as I was hurting and needed to walk at times.  but I made the final checkpoint with one minute to spare!

This run saved the best for last :)  Most of the legs were a difficulty of 1 -3….really quite a flat course overall.  Except for the last 4km which were a degree of difficulty of 5! That was so hard …going up I had to walk most of the hills they were so steep and then going down them hurt equally as much!

When I started the day, the plan was for the kids to meet me every 20km – right what was I thinking!  At the first checkpoint, I asked them to meet me at every checkpoint and then around 70km, I had them meet me halfway through each checkpoint.  They did a superb job of supporting me – they were always where I needed them to be, got what I needed  and the couple of time I texted them to come and find me they did so very quickly.   It was wonderfully having their support.

These pictures are of the start, mid-way and at the end.


mid way