The story on Nancy Cornect is part of the 2016 Running Whys series. This ran in the April 30 edition of the Fredericton Daily Gleaner. If you have suggestions for someone with a great story, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy.
What started as a complement to her boxing regimen has developed into a passion for running that is making a difference in the lives of others.
About five years ago, Nancy Cornect, the Newfoundland native who has called Oromocto home since 2002, went on a jog with some of her friends at the Oromocto Boxing Club, all intent to boosting their cardiovascular fitness levels.
But Nancy, 44, quickly fell in love with the sport and soon found herself adding distance and time to her regular training sessions. Before she knew it, she trained for and completed a half-marathon.
“It was May and I said to myself that I wanted to do at least 10 kilometres at the end of the summer,” she explained. “In five months, I did my first half marathon. It was amazing. That’s where I got the bug and I haven’t stopped since.”
Yet, something else happened, events that today spark her added motivation. As she searched online in 2014, she read of a runner in Virginia – Meg Cross-Menzies – who was killed by a drunk driver while training for the Boston Marathon. A Facebook page – called Meg’s Miles – was created in Meg’s memory – one that Nancy joined.
“That story really got to me,” Cornect said. “I was heartbroken. She had three small children and just being a runner, I felt a connection.”
In this group, runners talked of their motivations, ups and downs of training and eventually, Nancy decided to train for the 2015 Richmond Marathon – her first marathon – which also saluted Meg’s memory.
“I decided I was going to go to Virginia and meet all these people who were in this group,” she said. “We all bonded and we got to be greatfriends.
Nancy, who works with the Anglophone West School District, completed the run and plans to go again this fall. Additionally, she became engaged with virtual running, where athletes register
for races without actually being in the race location. The runners complete the course by running a certain distance and can do so at a time of their convenience. Sometimes, there are rewards such as medals.
More importantly, though, is the fund-raising aspects of these events, with proceeds going to assist the fight against pediatric cancer or domestic violence – to name two.
“I love it,” she says. “I have done about 25 in the past two years.”
She is particularly passionate about runs that support cancer research or assist families who are affected by cancer.
“Anything with kids with cancer, that is my passion,” she said. “I lost my mother to cancer and my father has cancer now. We are all affected somehow by cancer.”
As part of those efforts, she joined former Canadian boxer Mike Strange on the Oromocto stop of his 2014 journey, which called for 90 marathons in 90 days from Newfoundland to Thunder Bay to knockout childhood cancer.
Cornect contacted Strange and they dedicated the leg to a girl in the IWK – Gracie Bell – who was just over one year old at the time.
“That was the one that tugged at my heart the most,” she said. “We met with her family and it was so amazing.”
Generally, she runs alone and in the morning which suits her schedule and her pace just fine, allowing her to get in touch with the strong spiritual aspect of her life.
She credits support from her husband Paul and children Chris and Steven.
“To me, running is a blessing not everyone can do,” she said. “If you can put on a pair of sneakers and go for a 5k run, that is a blessing.”
This weekend, Cornect will race in the The Mercury Run, slated for 9 a.m. at Oromocto High School. It’s part of the preparation for the Scotiabank Fredericton Marathon next week (her fifth
Mother’s Day half marathon and 20th half marathon overall). After that, it is the Annual Bay of
Fundy International Marathon in Campobello on June 26.