Suzanna Marie and Sarah Pritchard have been running together for the last four years, and even prefer jogging in cooler temperatures.
However, one problem the pair have run into throughout this time is they’ve always had to travel outside of Thompson to participate in an race, with the shortest road trip involving a four-hour drive to The Pas.
To remedy this, Pritchard and Marie are putting together the inaugural Burntwood River Run Sept. 29 to give Thompson residents a chance to soak in that big race atmosphere in the Hub of the North.
“I think people who don’t run a lot feel like it’s not worth the eight-hour drive to go to a race,” Pritchard said on Aug. 17. “But they’re missing out on some fun events. So we figured we’d bring that up here and share our love of running with the people.”
According to the event’s Facebook page, participants will get the choice to walk/run down a variety of routes including five-kilometre and 10-kilometre routes as well as a half-marathon of just over 20 kilometres.
Each route will involve both road and trail sections, with aid stations and markers along the way to make sure nobody gets lost. After crossing the finish line at the Royal Canadian Legion, participants can enjoy a barbecue and pick up prizes if they manage to place first, second or third in their respective races.
“We’re starting and finishing at the Legion, which is nice because we’re close to the river and I don’t think anybody’s ever started a race from there,” said Marie. “It’s going to be down that part of the Millennium Trail over there behind Riverside and then a little bit down the highway towards the airport as well.”
Pritchard says she has a personal stake in this event, since they decided to name the shortest route Faith’s 5K after her mother Faith Pritchard, who died in May after a seven-year battle with breast cancer.
Back in 2013, Pritchard said her mom took up running for the first time in her mid-50s and discovered a new lease on life.
“Following a year of cancer treatments she decided that she wanted to learn to run. So she downloaded a Couch to 5K program and just ripped up the streets,” said Pritchard. “She desperately wanted to compete in a 5K race, but unfortunately she got sick again before she could do that.”
To honour her mother’s memory, Pritchard said all proceeds from the Burntwood River Run will be donated to the Breast Cancer Society of Canada.
For anyone who is still on the fence about whether or not they should give this race a shot, Pritchard said the event is designed with families and people who haven’t entered a race before in mind.
“There’s no pressure. There’s no big push to win. If you want to walk the whole 5K, if you want to walk the whole half-marathon, rock on!” she said. “We’ll wait for you at the end. We’re not shutting down until the last runner has crossed the finish line.”
Pritchard believes this kind of highly accessible event is what her mother would have wanted for the community at large.
“She would be stoked for people to get started with running because it changed her,” said Pritchard. “She started running and she had this excitement about it that I haven’t seen her have with many other things.”
Registration for the Burntwood River Run will take place on the morning of Sept. 29 at the Royal Canadian Legion on Elizabeth Drive. For more information about the race itself, please visit the event’s Facebook page.