Sunday, October 18th should have been the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, but just like everything else this year, plans changed and the event became virtual.
I run to keep myself mentally and physically fit and I was happy to turn my passion into an opportunity to support Eli’s Place. Eli was my friend, someone who we lost much too soon. If I can help others who suffer as he did, then I am happy to keep running.
My running community has always been extremely supportive of each other, but never more so than during my run in support of Eli’s Place. I’d shared my plans for my half marathon run, thinking maybe a few friends might come to cheer me on at some point along my 21.1 km route.
Imagine my surprise when a friend texted at 7:15 a.m. to let me know she was outside for “bag check”! A very unusual run was about to begin.
As I headed out on my run, my friend Virginia cheered me on with her cowbell. She said she’d catch up with me later and there she was at 3 km with a bottle of water for me.
As I approached the 12 km mark, I was pleasantly surprised to see another friend, Joanne, running along the East Don Trail and even more surprised when she announced she was running the rest of the way with me. At the 13 km mark, we found our mutual friend Virginia waiting with water … and her cowbell!
The final 10 km was a great run with Joanne as we made our way from Leslie and Sheppard uphill towards Yonge and Sheppard where we looped around the neighbourhood to finish at Mel Lastman square. As I approached the final meters, sure enough, there was Virginia! This time she had a few more friends with her holding a streamer to create a finish line for me.
This experience reminded me of the strength of community and how much the support of my group boosted my morale and helped me finish my goal feeling stronger than ever.
A big thank you to those who came out to support my run in person and to those who supported my run from afar. Thanks to each of you for helping me in my goal to raise awareness around mental illness and to raise much-needed funds for Eli’s Place!