The Running Whys – Cheryl Donovan

Cheryl1Cheryl Donovan knows the agony of a good run that’s impossible to verify because of a faulty GPS watch battery that died mid-route.

So she does what every runner who has ever experienced the same problem – own so many running watches, there will never be an excuse.


Cheryl with Joy Durdan

“I’m totally addicted to my running watches …owning no less than five and I have been known to wear more than one at a time in case one fails,” said the Saint John resident who is in the midst of training for the 2016 Emera Marathon By The Sea next month.

That is one thing she has in common with many in the large field that expected to be on hand Aug 12-14 in the Port City.

You might know her if you have ever ventured into Fabricville, where she is the retail assistant manager, a place she’s worked at for 26 years. Or you may know Ken, her husband of 22 years.

Or you may know her two cats.

But for more than a decade, you may also know her as a runner, one inspired by Marathon By The Sea in 2004, when she watched runners that year trot, jog, scamper, sprint and walk past her house.

Read other runners we have featured Joe ComeauMike Doyle, Charlotte Flewelling, Andree Germain, Sue Teakles, Brenda Guitard, Paul Sands.

She was 33 at the time and became so energized by the efforts she witnessed, she gave it a shot.


Cheryl with Erica MacMillan and Angela Stewart

“I’ll never be fast,” she explains. “I’m a true back of the pack runner and I’m okay with that. I love that this sport includes people of all abilities. We can compete on the same playing field and feel the same sense of accomplishment.”

In 2005, her first MBTS race was the half marathon, which opened her eyes as she dealt with the demands of training. It was hard but she was truly invigorated and especially savours the memory of that experience because her mother, sister and niece were at various spots on the course to encourage her on the journey.

“I’ve been hooked ever since,” she said.

Along her many runs, there have been some memorable events, none moreso than 2014, when Cheryl and her friend Erica MacMillan were scheduled to take part in the Mud Hero event in Halifax.

However, the impact of Hurricane Arthur meant it was postponed by a day

“Erica and I were the only two from my team who opted to go do it the next day,” she explains. “Setting out at 3 a.m. for Halifax, only a true running buddy does this and agrees that it was the most fun race day ever.”


Cheryl with Diana Hetherington

Erica and Angela Stewart are Cheryl’s regular running buddies and she cited Joy Durdan as her inspiration and Diana Hetherington as her biggest cheerleader.

“Having running partners provides the accountability that I need,” she says.

Cheryl likes the hills associated with the half marathon route at MBTS as well as the run over Harbour Bridge. A challenge is good for the soul, she suggests. Later, someday, she may even tackle for the full marathon distance.

Her motto is inspiring, one that ultramarathoner and author Dean Karnazes has used a lot – “Run when you can; Walk if you have to; Crawl if you must; Just never give up.”

Cheryl will compete in the Port City Challenge with the 5 km run Friday night Aug. 12, the 5 KM run Saturday morning on Aug. 13 and the half marathon Sunday morning on Aug. 14.


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