Editor’s note: This is the ninth story in a series profiling runners who will compete in the 2oth anniversary running of Emera Marathon By the Sea Marathon in Saint John. The stories are also running on the MBTS Facebook page and MBTS website.
It’s been said there is nothing quite like the emotions on display near the finish line of a running race. It’s a scene of accomplishment and in many cases, tears of joy flow. For those in the Greater Saint John area, one of those who receives some of the greatest cheers is Gail Teed, who started running in 1998 and remains extremely active on the local running scene. This year, once again, she is going to compete in the 20th running of Emera Marathon By The Sea. What follows is a question and answer session with Gail on her thoughts looking ahead and looking back.
What do you enjoy most about running?
There is sense of freedom and accomplishment when I run. I enjoy getting out there and running – I do a lot of running on the highway. The highway is my home. We go all over New Brunswick for races; I discovered the Super Series, and I started running as many races as I could.
The accomplishment for me is to finish – that’s the main goal. I don’t want to be a quitter. I fell at Race Against The Reds in Odell Park a couple of years ago; I tripped on something and bruised everything from my ankle to my head. I had two black eyes, a lump on my forehead, my chin and nose were scraped, and my left leg was black and blue. I looked terrible. People stopped to help me, gave me paper towel for my bleeding, and walked with me to the finish line. I wanted to finish, and I was glad I did. I wanted to earn my medal.
When did you start running?
I started running in 1998.
Why did you start running?
I went to the Fredericton Marathon in 1998 to support my son Charles because he was running his first full marathon. I stayed for the spaghetti dinner, and everyone was really nice. I started thinking, ‘Why couldn’t I do this?’
Charles gave me a runner’s guide from Runner’s World, so I followed the program, and in a couple of months I was running for thirty minutes. That summer I ran a 7K fun run, and entered the Fall Classic later that year.
Why is running important to you?
It helps keep me young. I’m seventy-three years old, and if I can go out and run races, I am able to do a lot of things the other people can’t do at my age. If I am in a bad mood, I’ll go out for a run and be in a good mood by the time I’m done.
It’s also helped me make friends. I was a homebody when I first started running, and didn’t have a lot of friends, but now I’ve made many friends all over the province, and people recognize me when I go to races. When I win an award at a race, people cheer for me, and are really nice.
How do you feel about the cheers you hear when you race?
I almost don’t hear them during the race, but my brother Billy tells me about it afterwards. It’s uplifting and inspiring.
Do you have a person in running who inspires you?
I enjoy running with Brenda Guitard. She is currently training me for the half marathon. Since I’ve started working with her, I am more determined to do my workouts and try to get faster. She takes care of us out there when we’re training; she always runs back with me when our workout is over, even though I am slower than she is. She’s one of the best runners in Saint John.
Dean Strowbridge is another inspiration. He’s always encouraging me – giving me high fives at the races and during training. I only know him from races and training, but he’s a really nice person.
Alex Coffin has helped me out a lot too. He’s trained me for a number of years, and he encourages everyone to do their best. He’s the marathon man.
What is your most memorable run?
I got lost at the Miramichi Rock and Roll Half Marathon last year, and they started clearing the course before I found my way back. They realized I was still out there after the course was cleared, and two volunteers, a police officer, and the St. John Ambulance acted as my support in finding my way, setting up water stops, and stopping traffic. They made it possible for me to finish, and it was a nice feeling to have people there for support.
Have you competed in many Marathon By the Sea events? If so, what makes that race important?
I’ve run the five miler several times, and the half marathon in 2001. It was my first big race when I started out, and I won two awards; one for winning my category, and another as an inspirational runner. It made me feel good, because it was the first recognition I ever received.
Are you running Marathon By the Sea this year?
Yes, but I am not sure which race I am going to do. Possibly the half marathon, but it will depend on how I feel when the time comes to register.
What are your biggest running goals?
My goal is to get faster. I ran some of my best times last year – 1:09 for a 10K and 33 minutes for a 5K – and I am hoping my training with Brenda will help me beat those times.
Where are you from?
I am from Saint John. I’ve lived here all of my life.
Tell us a bit about your family?
I live in Saint John with my brother Billy. My sister Judy lives in Saint John, and my other brother Edwin lives in Alberta. I have five children, two step-children as well as a number of grandchildren and great grandchildren.
They’re a good, supportive family. Billy runs with me, and my children encourage me. This year, my family organized a fun run for my birthday, and invited people from the running community to attend. I enjoyed having people come out and do a run with me for my birthday.
What did or do you do for a living?
I was a homemaker my whole life. I didn’t start training for sports until I was older. I used to bike twenty miles a day or more; I’d be out there on the highway and there would be eagles flying overhead. It was a sense of freedom – I’m actually thinking about biking again, but I would have to buy a new bicycle first.
Do you have any other comments?
Running changed my life. It helped me meet new people, and have new experiences. Even the bad experiences were good in some way, because it shows there are people are there for you – encouraging you, taking care of you, and helping you to the finish line.