About five years ago, Jon Curtis and his mother Andrea Power developed a family tradition, adding another component to their annual Mother’s Day celebrations with a short run in the Halifax-Dartmouth area.
Andrea, a veteran marathoner, has always encouraged Jon and his brothers William, Christopher and Luke to get out and keep active for the obvious fitness benefits. The hope was that because Jon and Andrea have asthma, the exercise would assist them in their daily lives, especially considering both of Jon’s grandparents passed away from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
As time passed, those family fitness jaunts became annual events and this year, just 12 months after Jon moved to Fredericton to accept a position as a financial advisor with TD Canada Trust, they maintained the bond, although the venue changed from the Nova Scotia capital to the New Brunswick capital.
“I remember the first run we did, it was around Point Pleasant Park in Halifax,” Jon said. “When it was finished, we went and got some breakfast. We just tried to continue that tradition ever since. My Mom was a big runner and she still is. She was the one keeping us active since we were little kids so this is a nice little thing for us to do. No headphones, just time to jog together.”
This year, that ritual led Jon and Andrea to the Fredericton Marathon on May 14, where they both ran the 10K race, with Jon posting a personal best clocking of 49:54.
“One of the biggest pushes to stay active is to help improve lung performance,” said Jon, who will turn 31 in July. “Every time I go on one of these runs, I am thinking about my grandparents. They couldn’t do this and it is one of the biggest motivating factors for me and my mother.”
Through Andrea’s influence and some competitiveness with his siblings, Jon started running in 2007, completing a two-miler as part of the Natal Day races in Dartmouth, a race that dates back over 100 years.
After his debut, he progressed to the half-marathon distance in May 2008 and enjoyed the atmosphere around the start and finish lines as well as the goodwill that existed on the course.
“I remember when Mom wanted me and my brothers to run with her at the Natal Day race in Dartmouth,” he said of his first formal running steps. “She footed the bill but we ended up celebrating the night before thinking it was just two miles, not really that far.
“We ended up struggling but that race is the reason we kept going because it was fun to get out there with 1,000 people, to be part of race and have people high fiving us. We got hooked.”
Jon earned his business degree at Dalhousie University, specializing in international business and minoring in economics, all of which played a significant role in his eventual move to Fredericton.
Since arriving in New Brunswick, he’s noticed a positive running vibe during his regular training that takes advantage of the trail system on the south and north sides of the city.
“I really enjoy running in this city,” he said. “It is scenic, it is flat and the people are very friendly.”
His family will reunite this summer when William gets married in Halifax and the gang is expected to run in an area race during the week of celebrations. And it is a good bet there will be competition in store for bragging rights as they approach the finish line.
“William and Luke are taller and faster than me and my goal is to try and beat all of them,” Jon said. “Whether it will work, who knows, but that is the plan.”
After running the Fredericton Marathon 10K event, he posted a 54:50 time in the same distance at the Blue Marathon in Halifax last week. If his travel plans line up for the summer, he may race with a friend during a vacation to Japan and possibly enter another event back in the Maritimes in the fall.
To train, he’ll continue to work out with friends at Goodlife and then also get out for his regular runs, which can range up to eight miles each session.
“It is a very cathartic experience,” he said of running and what it means to him. “Most of the time, it is a very good stress reliever at the end of the day.
“There are a lot of different reasons why I get out there and run a couple of times of week but it is mainly to stay in good shape and not fall back to where I can’t do it any more.”
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.