The Running Whys – Dean Strowbridge

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Dean Strowbridge, shown here racing at the Hampton Five Miler last year, keeps a photo of himself from 1996 on his fridge to keep humble. In the past 10 years, he had developed into one of the top runners in the province. He will enter the Marathon By The Sea half marathon this August. Photo: Gilles Gautreau/Run New Brunswick website.

Long before Dean Strowbridge was racking up victory after victory on the New Brunswick running circuit, he was searching for a fitness forum.

The year was 1996, he wasn’t feeling the best and he decided then and there, he needed a change.

“I actually was going to the Aquatic Centre for general fitness so I could lose weight. I was in a size 40 pants back then,” said Strowbridge, the Willow Grove native who has captured three Run New Brunswick Super Series points titles and three Timex Series titles.

As he participated and made inroads toward achieving his new goals, he enjoyed the new regime. Then, a few years later, Dean and a good friend of his – Cyril Landry – entered the Catch The Bug road race, a 5 kilometre journey in Saint John that produced a time of 29:09. It was a respectable debut but looking at his regular results these days that come in under 17 minutes, that initial time proved to be a far cry from where his potential would eventually take him. Continue reading

The Running Whys – Joy Durdan

Joy Durdan, left, celebrates as she crosses the finish line in the full marathon at the 2011 edition of Marathon By the Sea.

Joy Durdan, left, celebrates as she crosses the finish line in the full marathon at the 2011 edition of Marathon By the Sea.

This is the first in a series of stories profiling runners and walkers who will be participating in the 2014 Emera Marathon By The Sea in Saint John, Aug. 8-10.

As Emera Marathon By The Sea celebrates a special anniversary this year, Joy Durdan of Grand Bay-Westfield, one of the race’s most faithful participants, wouldn’t miss it for the world.

For Joy, MBTS is the continuation of a long love affair with the sport that started in 1999, when shortly after her son entered kindergarten, she decided to take a big step and move to running from walking.

The preferred site was the Irving Nature Park and it was there – 15 years ago – that she taught herself how to run.

Now, on the eve of the 20th running of Marathon By The Sea (MBTS), Joy has not looked back, capturing the runners high early and thriving on it since.

“Running is my passion,” says Joy, who has run some distance in every MBTS since she entered the half marathon in 2001. “I am not a fast runner, I am middle of the pack. I love the accomplishment of every finish line I cross….and of course, I love my medals (bling )!” Continue reading

The Running Whys and Marathon By The Sea

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The start line at one of the early Marathon By The Sea events in Saint John.

The countdown is on to the 20th running of Marathon By The Sea as already, high enthusiasm levels have been sparked by the improving temperatures and the 2014 running season, now in full swing across the province.

This year, to help celebrate this special edition of Marathon By The Sea, we will feature a number of stories from runners of all levels and abilities who will be competing in the various divisions during the weekend of Aug. 8-10.

For example, we will learn of one man who was inspired about MBTS after reading the results of the inaugural race in the newspaper. He was so enthused, he vowed to improve his fitness levels and in doing so, he has competed in every MBTS since. Continue reading

The Running Whys – Jason Dickson

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Jason Dickson, right, shown in the 2012 Fredericton half marathon, completed his first marathon Sunday.

Jason Dickson is well known in the sporting world for his baseball career that included four years in the Big Leagues, selection to the 1998 MLB all-star game and then a berth on Team Canada in the 2004 Olympics. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Jason signed up for the Fredericton Marathon this year, his first crack at the 42.2 km distance.

Here is the story that ran in the Daily Gleaner (@dailygleaner) prior to the event.

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For every professional athlete, the day arrives when it comes time to move onto the next stage of life.

It was no different for Miramichi’s Jason Dickson. Now 41, Dickson’s baseball career spanned more than two decades, including four years in the Major Leagues, where he earned a berth in the 1997 all-star game. It was an electric period for him, competing in the biggest stadiums, against the most celebrated stars, under the brightest lights.

His trusty right pitching arm lifted him to an appearance in the 2004 Olympic Games and, next month, he’ll be inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame.

And while he has missed many aspects professional sport since his playing days ended, he has accepted those changes, successfully transitioning to new challenges in the Fredericton area, whether it was in the sport sector or now, as the administrator of the Mill Cove Nursing Home. Continue reading

The Running Whys – Toby Richardson

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Toby Richardson of Fredericton, shown here in the finish area at the 2013 Marathon By The Sea in Saint John, qualified for the 2015 Boston Marathon last October in Moncton and is one of the approximately 2,100 runners expected to participate in the 2014 Scotiabank Fredericton Marathon May 11. Photo Submitted.

 

This is the second of three stories in the Daily Gleaner (@dailygleaner) on runners who will be competing in the Fredericton Marathon next week.

Toby outlines her courageous fight that involved her family, friends but more importantly, her own commitment. Among the rewards along this 4.5 year period of recovery was qualifying for the 2015 Boston Marathon.

But the personal rewards along her journey are much more significant.

Her story is below.

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For over two decades, Toby Richardson relied on food and alcohol as her crutches to get through life.

All that changed four and half years ago when the Fredericton resident rediscovered a passion for running and began rebuilding, aiming toward a better way of life.

Richardson, 45, will be one of more than 250 marathon runners at next week’s Scotiabank Fredericton Marathon, but for her, this run is just another step in a journey that is much longer than the 42.2 km route and much more important.

Richardson’s story, however, is not about the pursuit of fast times and finish lines but an inspirational personal recovery that’s taken courage, support and dedication. It’s one that won’t end with the 36th annual edition of the popular race.

“Four and a half years ago, I was sick, 50 pounds overweight and nearing the end of my 22 year drinking career,” said Toby, as her training for the Marathon reached the final stages. “Getting sober changed my life as I knew it and it was far more difficult than completing a marathon. I was forced to dig deep to rebuild a life that was to become more meaningful, balanced and healthy.”

One of the key steps in her recovery was starting to run again 10 years after completing a half marathon that admittedly didn’t go that well. Now, she’s got two marathons under her belt and has even qualified for the 2015 Boston Marathon. In addition to relying on running to help in her recovery, Richardson enlisted the help of her personal network, those whose love and support were critical, serving as another collective crutch in her journey.

Specifically, she cites her parents, David and Glenna Richardson, her boyfriend Jamie Pickard and her girlfriends Maryanne Davies, Tina Waterhouse-Campbell and Lisa Stafford.

With them and their unwavering support, guidance and just being there, they’ve helped during the most difficult moments in her recovery and as well as being on hand to celebrate the special moments.

They will be there with her next Sunday – if not physically, then in spirit – saluting their daughter, friend and partner and she races with approximately 2,100 others in all of the distances through the streets and trails of New Brunswick’s Capital City.

“My support team is extensive both on the trail and off,” Toby said. “There are days I have difficulty connecting the dots or even tying my shoe laces. Living with G.A.D.(Generalized Anxiety Disorder) would be impossible without guidance from the mental health professionals at Victoria Health Center. My girlfriends have seen me at my worst and continue to love me when I can’t love myself.

“Same goes for a strong and supportive boyfriend (who’s also running) and incredible parents who see my successes especially when I don’t. I’m surrounded by love and support.”

As for running, Richardson competed and completed her first marathon last August, in 23C conditions at the Marathon By The Sea, where she clocked a 4:27.09 time.

“I was so proud, never imagining I’d ever make the finish line,” she said.

It spurred her on but even the most optimistic people could not have imagined what happened next, when at the Legs for Literacy Marathon in October, she shaved more than 35 minutes off her time in 10C conditions and qualified for the 2015 Boston Marathon in 3:51.37.

“Qualifying for Boston is something that will always be special for me personally.”

Richardson was born in Fredericton and for the past 14 years, has called Marysville home, so she is well aware of the city’s trail system that makes up a large portion of the Fredericton Marathon’s double-loop course.

This upcoming event, for her, is part of prep work for Boston next April and she is aiming to escape next weekend free of injury. A new personal best won’t hurt either.

However, in the bigger picture, it’s 42.2 km further along in her emotional and important journey.

“Overcoming stress and anxiety is a life long journey, so if my new crutch is running, I’ll take it along with all its many benefits,” she said. “I run for my mental health, my love of chocolate, self-esteem and for recovery. I’m 4.5 years sober and I am a runner.”

Continue reading

Hockey and running

Try as I might over the holidays and winter to maintain a regular running regiment, it did not happen.

Too dark, too much snow, too dreary.

Among the many excuses for my lack of consistency, those are the ones which raced to the forefront.

So with the start of spring, the running season and the Stanley Cup playoffs, a group of us decided to resurrect the Saint John Streakers club that operated in December, which encouraged all members to run at least one mile each day of the month.

There was enthusiasm to get the band back together again and we have, getting underway April 7 with a goal of running at least one mile everyday until mid June – or the end of the playoffs. Take your pick. Continue reading