This story ran in the July 30 edition of the Daily Gleaner.
It was more than 20 years ago when Dianne Sharpe found the flexibility in running as the perfect substitute for the regimented fitness classes she was having a tough time making because of work demands and life with a young family.
Little did the Saint John native, who has called Fredericton home since the mid 1980s, realize then that she’d never leave her new recreational pursuit and that it would take her to some of the biggest races the sport has to offer.
“I feel free when I am running and I love that,” said Sharpe, a speech language pathologist in the city.
“I like the fitness aspect of it, I like the way it challenges you in so many ways and I love the outdoors.”
Shortly after she took to running the city’s impressive trail system and Odell Park near her home, she was registering for races.
One of the first events was a half marathon in Fredericton in 1999. The next year, she was recruited to a Joints in Motion fundraising team, planning to run the Dublin Marathon in 2000.
“A friend convinced me to join the Joints in Motion team and I was hooked,” she says of the experience, where 7,150 people crossed the finish line in Ireland’s large fall run.
“I like the distance running and road running and the way it challenges you cardiovascularly.”
She showed great abilities and before she knew it, she had qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2003, one of a number of large marathons she has attended.
“That one stands out because it was my first time going to Boston,” she said. “I was so excited about being there I was quite in awe of the spectators on course. It was everything I thought it would be and more.”
Then 44, she clocked a 3:45.17 time, the first of three trips to the big event.
Family plays a big role in her running. She credits support from her husband Kim and runs with her daughter Lindsay, now living in Halifax, and her son Andrew in Fredericton.
In fact, Dianne ran with Lindsay and both clocked 3:36 times in the 2014 Toronto Marathon, an accomplishment that fuels special memories.
Of note, Lindsay (now Lindsay Ozon) was in the planning stages for her wedding and, “we bought her wedding dress the day before the marathon,” Dianne said.
Another aspect is the social component of the sport, one that means seeing the same faces in many events and forming bonds on destination races, such as those Dianne has enjoyed in San Francisco, Dublin and in December, 2005, when she went to Tucson, Az., her third marathon in a short span that year.
“It was just kind of an add on that year and I did not expect much because it was my third marathon,” she said. “But it was the one where I posted a personal best.”
Then 47, she won her division in 3:21.24, was 16th in the women’s overall standings and 139th in the full 1,050-runner field.
“I have travelled a lot with friends to destination runs and it has become much more for me than just running.”
On average, she’s completed one marathon a year since her first one, with the exception of 2005, when she ran three.
In addition, she is in development for the sport as she coaches Grade 4-5 with the Fredericton Fast Tracks program. Further, she helps to organize the youth runs for the Fredericton Marathon committee in the spring and the Fredericton Fall Classic committee in September.
“I truly love this immensely,” she said. “It is another aspect of sharing your love of the sport with others.”
This year, she is leading the New Brunswick Super Series standings in the 50-59 age class with division wins in Grand Bay-Westfield, Saint Andrews and Grand Digue. She raced and trained regularly, all in preparation for her big event this year – Fiddler’s Run Marathon Sept. 11 in Sydney, N.S.
“I have just met so many positive energetic people, many who have become really dear friends,” she said. “Running fills a lot of needs.”
Kevin Barrett’s column appears every other Saturday. If you have a suggestion for a feature story, email him at email@example.com or visit barrettkevin.wordpress.com.