WOLFVILLE, N.S. - Seasoned runner Lisa Richardson decided to ditch the typical race gear for the Valley Harvest Marathon this year and tackle the 10K course in her firefighting attire instead.
The Wolfville-based firefighter said she started to feel like a “carrot dangling right in front” of the other runners, fueling them to push forward, as she ran by sporting the helmet, jacket and pants issued as part of her bunker gear.
“I’ve never run like that before and I just thought I’d give it a shot,” said Richardson, who estimated that the gear weighed about 30 to 40 pounds.
“It was inspiring not only to myself but to people around me too, and that’s what running’s all about. People are loving it.”
Fellow firefighters Paul Maynard, Kathy Babcooke and Robin Jensen, who is also a paramedic, joined Richardson in donning bunker gear to run in Valley Harvest. The trio completed the 5K event, earning several rounds of applause along the way.
Richardson was proud to see the local fire department well represented in the event. She said it was more about being visible within the community than chasing down a personal best, but her competitive spirit did get her over the line in less than 60 minutes.
“A small voice in my head said, under an hour - under an hour,” she said with a laugh.
With Ironman triathlons and many marathons under her belt, Richardson said running the Valley Harvest 10K in bunker gear is certainly a highlight reel moment in her 26-year running career.
“That was like the most fun I’ve ever had – hands down.”
Reams of runners crossed the finish line at Acadia University Oct. 7 as part of their own Valley Harvest Marathon journey. Participants had the option of completing the 50K ultra course, marathon, half marathon, 10K or 5K route.
Will Watts of Kentville made sure the crowd didn’t have to wait long for him to circle back in the 5K road race. The 16-year-old sprinted his way to a solid lead – and stayed there. He finished with a time of 17:21 – a personal best by nearly a minute.
“It felt good. I ran it a little differently. I don’t ever front run races but today I gave it a try and it worked out pretty well,” the NKEC student recounted.
“I just knew that someone was on my tail the whole time and tried to keep that in the back of my head to keep the lead. Without somebody behind me, I’m sure my time would have been a good minute slower.”
Tyler Baker of Meadowvale was hot on his heels, finishing in 17:43.
Watts trains with Valley Athletics three times a week and has his sights set on winning a provincial track and field event in his final year of high school.
“It’s made a big impact with my running in the last few years,” he said. “I’ve come a long way.”
Elite wheelchair racer Ben Brown had first dibs on the track for Valley Harvest, starting things off with a solo 10K race that got the crowd warmed up.
“It went well considering I was sick for two weeks and this is my first week back on full-on training,” the Cambridge resident said after a 28:53 finish.
“It would have been nice to go faster than last year, but I knew going in that today was just about getting a good, quality workout in and just staying strong.”
Brown noted improvements in his hills from last year and felt good about the power in his strokes throughout the race. He’s looking to compete in Dubai in February in pursuit of qualifying for the world championships.
“I’m very thankful Valley Harvest allowed me to do the start event and I loved having the crowd at the finish,” said Brown, who was surrounded by runners applauding his performance as soon as he came to a stop.
“Having that crowd cheering me on at the finish, that is awesome… I love racing.”
Fastest times at 2018 Valley Harvest Marathon:
- Will Watts of Kentville, 17:21 in the male 5K
- Anna Robinson of Antigonish, 20:19 in the female 5K
- Tyler Germani of Baddeck, 34:59 in the male 10K
- Tonya Huck of Yellowknife, NWT, 41.19 in the female 10K
- Dante Manchester of Halifax, 1:23:59 in the male half marathon
- Erin Poirier of Halifax, 1:27:29 in the female half marathon
- Darren Kaulback of Dartmouth, 2:59:34 in the male marathon
- Adrienne Kaul of Terrace, B.C., 3:08.45 in the female marathon
- Robert MacDonald of Hammonds Plains, 4:09:29 in the male ultra
- Annie Michaud of Moncton, N.B., 5:03:52 in the female ultra