This story ran in the Daily Gleaner in August.
The more Justin Young keeps running, the more his motives and appreciation for the sport stays the same.
Now approaching 35, the Fredericton resident insists the attributes that attracted him to the sport as middle school student are pretty much in line with how his thinks today.
And while it may seem a contrast of sorts in this individual pursuit, the thing that gets Young talking the most about running are the team aspects – from his involvement with running clubs and track teams in his youth to relay teams that have taken him to Cape Breton most every spring since 2001 – and more recently, to Halifax at the end of the summer.
“I still like being part of a team and I thrive in that environment, where there is a lot of energy,” he said. “When you pack a lot of people in a place like Baddeck for the Cabot Trail Relay, it is quite something.”
Justin and his wife Sara are parents to three children and have been back living in Fredericton three years after eight years in the Saint John area and another two in Woodstock.
He combines his role as a stay-at-home father with some duties at the Running Room, counselling work with the John Howard Society and coaching younger runners, in clubs or schools.
The constant is running.
“I really have not taken many breaks,” he explains. “I have always found time to do it. I have done just over 250 races, everything from 800 metres on the track to an ultramarathon.
It wasn’t something he did early in life. In fact, another sport prompted his introduction to the roads near his home.
“I started running in 1998 because I wanted to be better at basketball (his father Gary was a long time coach at FHS),” said Justin.
“That was something my family was very involved in and as it turned out, I was much better at running than basketball.”
It did not take long to find out running was well suited for him and he earned a berth on the FHS cross country team with Rick Hull. He also ran for Mel Keeling on the area Legion team and Tim Randall at the University of New Brunswick for four years.
These days, his coach is Carl McIntosh.
“It is a huge part of my life,” Justin explains. “For me, it has always been about the people I have met. Pretty much everything I have done in my life has been connected to running somehow.”
These days, he is producing some fast times as evidenced by his personal best 16:39 in the 5 km during the Run for Renee in Quispamsis on July 16. Or another PB with his 10-minute flat 3,000-metre time in a race earlier this year in Moncton.
He’s also posted a 17.37 time in the River Valley Rave run in June, a 48.34 result in the Lorneville 13 k race in April and a 35.43 clocking in the 10 km race as part of the Fredericton Marathon – all good for top-4 finishes.
Yet, what he is most excited about are his races as part of team. For example, he’s completed 16 of the 17 legs at the Cabot Trail relay over the years on various squads.
“I have been going there since 2001 (he missed one year in that span) and it is one of the highlights of my year, every year,” Justin says. His team has consisted of a range of men and women from across the Maritimes that has reached the top third of the results on occasion but are more interested in reaching personal goals and enjoying a weekend of comradery as one distance running unit.
Later this fall, he’ll attend the Rum Runners Relay in Nova Scotia with friend Dean Strowbridge, another team event that suits Justin’s liking. They were second in 2016.
“I am not saying I do not enjoy the solo efforts as well but generally, I am running with someone most days of the week,” he said. “That’s what I like.”
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.