The Gift of Running

‘Twas just days before Christmas,
When all through the town
A few people were walking,
Not wearing a frown;
When back on the path
There arose such a clatter
I turned with my dog
To see Martin’s pitter-patter…

The spirit of Christmas is in the giving and there is no better example of this than Martin Parnell. He has spent more hours outdoors this past year than most people can imagine.

You see Martin has given a year of time to run not one, not two, but the equivalent of 250 marathons. That’s 10,550 km (or 6,550 miles). It’s the same distance as thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail three times – plus a few more miles for good luck!

Running Champ (Source:

Martin’s goal is noble. With Marathon Quest 250, he’s hoping to raise $250,000 for Right to Play – “an international, humanitarian organization that uses sport and play to improve health, develop life skills…”

We’ve caught glimpses of Martin throughout the year, running through sleet, snow, and hail, running with school kids and soccer teams, finishing Cochrane’s Footstock race, heading down the red shale road – always wearing a race bib with the number of the current marathon.

I passed him just the other day on the path as I was walking my dog. I cheered him on with a “way to go!” as he passed. He smiled and thanked me and said, “I’m almost done.”

On December 31st, Martin will be running his final marathon distance. He’s inviting all runners to come join him on Cochrane, Alberta’s pathways in a 5, 10, half or full marathon distance.

In the face of Martin’s triumph, you can bet I’m not going to be whining about the cold. I’m going to be there for the 10 km, running outside for kids – what a way to end the year. What are your plans for the end of 2010?

If you know of an inspirational runner, skier, hiker in your neighborhood – drop a note in the comment box below.  It’s the season for good news and good cheer!

P.S. We layered up and joined Martin for a frozen jog along the river and his last few km, Dec 31st, 2010. Great article in Globe & Mail.

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