Two Comox Valley educators have a month left to prepare themselves for the longest run of their lives.
Navigate (Powered by NIDES) vice principal Jen Turner and École Puntledge Park kindergarten teacher Beth Reed will run in the New York City Marathon on Nov. 3. The distance is 26.2 miles, (42.2 kilometres), through the streets of New York City, and, according to Turner, neither woman is marathoner.
“I would say seven kilometres is probably the longest I’d ever run, and Beth, she had done a half-marathon before, but she said it was the hardest thing that she’d ever done,” says Turner.
Reed plays soccer but notes she only started running a few years ago and still has difficulty referring to herself as a ‘runner.’
But, the women have been training since June, and Turner says she can now run 20 kilometres and still have a bit of energy left over, while Reed can run 24 kilometres at this point. Turner plans to run 26 kilometres this weekend as she continues to bump up her distance goals.
“And the other day when I was hill training (my coach Mia Jerritt was) like, ‘I can’t believe that you’re doing this,’ because two years ago I had a back injury and I could barely walk — it hurt to walk. And she’s like, ‘And here you are, running up this hill, making it look easy, and you’re about to run a marathon,'” recalls Turner.
Though Turner admits completing the marathon will be a big accomplishment, the pair are not running simply to say they can do it; they’re running for a cause.
Dubbed The Valley Girls, the two-person team is running to raise money for Team Reeve. Funds raised will go to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation — which helps fund research to find a cure for spinal cord injuries, and improves lives of people with spinal cord injuries via grants, information and advocacy.
They must raise $8,000 for the charity by Oct. 30. Turner notes they are paying for their own travel expenses so every cent raised will go to the Reeve Foundation.
They will soon ask local businesses to donate to their team, and will wear the logos of businesses which donate $100 or more on their running jerseys on marathon day.
École Puntledge Park school staff are holding a raffle selling staff services to parents, and Reed and Turner will also hold a Halloween dance, featuring local rock group XLR8, at the Bridge Lounge on Oct. 25 from 8 p.m. to midnight. Costumes are encouraged, with prizes for best Halloween costume, and best superhero costume in honour of the Christopher Reeve who is known for his acting role of Superman.
Tickets are $20 with all proceeds going to the team fundraising goal. Advance tickets can be picked up at the Bridge Lounge or through Beth Reed at École Puntledge Park School or Jen Turner at Navigate (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Turner says the idea to run in the marathon started because of the I Can initiative, which empowers students to set goals for themselves and achieve them.
“We brought that language into our classrooms and we saw the power of it, and how it inspired kids to pick goals and meet them and try something new, and we’re their teachers and we should have goals as well.”
Reed adds that she was inspired by a student’s list of I Can goals: Run a marathon, Help people, Save the World.
“At first glance, we assume the innocence of children but when is it that we stop trying to achieve these dreams? I decided it was important for our students to have an adult ‘model’ an I Can goal,” explains Reed, noting a co-worker’s son was in an accident that left him a quadriplegic around this time.
“I knew that I wanted to do something to help and the marathon was the best way I knew how … it’s important to me to raise awareness for the great things the Reeve Foundation does, and do my little part to help.”
Turner has created a blog (www.jenturn.blogspot.ca) to document her journey. For more information, or to donate visit The Valley Girls team page (http://www.christopherreeve.org/faf/search/searchTeamPart.asp?ievent=1075688&lis=0&kntae1075688=93FF3FA5B9414438885336FDAEC6CE11&supId=0&team=5596561&cj=Y).