This column ran in the Fredericton Daily Gleaner on Sept. 24.
When opportunities arise, you have to take advantage of them. And for Fredericton’s Ahmet Tahan, a shot at a new career path presented to him was just too good to pass up.
So after 10 years as the assistant store manager of the Smythe Street Superstore, Tahan and his wife Celeste are moving to Grand Manan, where he is taking over the Your Independence Grocer franchise on the island.
There are many positive aspects related to the move, but one not so pleasant item for Tahan is leaving the Capital City road running community, where a little over five years ago, he took his first strides as part of a charity component of the Fredericton Marathon.
Since then, he’s transformed into a familiar face in the local circuit, competing in many area events – a slate which will include this weekend’s Liv9 Fall Classic, the 34th annual edition of one of the region’s most prestigious runs.
He also organized and successfully carried out a pair of 10x10k schedules in 2014 and 2015, where he ran 10 10-kilometre races to raise money for the President’s Choice Children’s Charity, pulling together more than $3,000 in the process.
Later this fall, he’s gearing up for his first marathon when he’ll take part in the 2016 edition of the Legs For Literacy weekend in Moncton. And, of course, he’ll be back for the Fall Classic, the Fredericton Marathon and other races in the Capital City in the future.
Right now, though, moving away definitely isn’t easy.
“I strongly ‘dislike’ leaving the Fredericton running scene, because the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge is my absolute most favourite place to run in the world and I have a lot of newly found friendships within the running community,” Tahan explained.
“But I know I’ll be coming back at least four times a year and the runner friends will always have a special place in my heart and will be missed where ever I go.”
Tahan moved to New Brunswick from Turkey in 2001, living since that time in Oromocto and Fredericton. Throughout his life, he was involved in sports but did not try running until the charity endeavour in 2011.
Running provided a forum for his goodwill activities, which rebounded to include his own fitness levels. That was evidenced with his most satisfying run, just two years ago at the Fall Classic, when it was the 10th and final charity effort that year. He ended in style with a new personal best under 50 minutes.
Like many runners, he tackles training routes himself for the most part but has developed a special bond with a pair of runners he cites as important to his overall enjoyment.
“There are two runner friends I love running with – Nicola Cassidy and Chris Murphy,” he said. “Running is always more fun when I run with these two gentle souls.”
The obvious fitness benefits and positive vibes of successfully completing a challenge are two other characteristics of running Tahan enjoys but they are many others.
He cites improved self discipline and the will to complete a goal – whether it is a short training run, the intensity of a race or scheduling several months of charity races.
“It takes a tremendous effort to take the first step out the door, and continue the run as it was planned,” he said. “I also like listening to my thoughts when I’m running. It is when I criticize myself the most and I do that harshly, too. But strangely enough, I’m at peace with myself after every run. I generally finish all runs much happier than when I start.”
His move to Grand Manan took place this week and while he’ll be back in the Capital for the weekend, he’s had time to reflect on running and its meaning to him. Those thoughts range from goal setting and practise, to planning and seizing the moment, not waiting until every last item is in place before starting a new goal.
“You are much more capable than you know,” he said. “When you want to quit, try one more time. You may be just one more trial away from success.
“Almost nothing is impossible when you are surrounded with supporting family members, friends and colleagues. Surround yourself with knowledgeable, supporting, positive people. And don’t forget that you are that person for others.”
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.