The Running Whys – Erin Whitman

Erin Whitman printErin Whitman, who graduated from NBCC in Saint John, started running at 34 years old and now had three marathons to her credit, including the Ottawa Marathon earlier his year. Here is her running story.

“My mom is confined to a wheelchair and cannot walk or even stand up, so I was running for both of us. And when the going got tough, I would remember why and who I was running for.” Continue reading

The Running Whys – Paulette Stoddard

Running Whys PaulettePaulette Stoddard is a Saint John native who started to run in 2009, one of many important facets that helped in transforming her life.

She continues to live on the West Side of the city and has been happily married to her husband Jim since 1999. Professionally, she is the Purchasing and Security Manager with WorkSafeNB Continue reading

The Running Whys – Brittany Merrifield

BrittanyFor Brittany Merrifield, the Emera Marathon By The Sea is more than a race, more than logging of kilometres in training.

For the Saint Johner who left the city for more than a decade before returning to the land that she loves, MBTS represents much more than all that. Continue reading

The Running Whys – a Gleaner recap

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This story ran in the Nov. 26th edition of the Daily Gleaner

The New Brunswick running season wrapped up last weekend with an impressive awards and Hall of Fame banquet in Tracadie.

But the unofficial running season takes few breaks and before we look back at the past year, planning is already well underway for next season’s events, including the Scotiabank Fredericton Marathon and the Liv9 Fall Classic. Continue reading

The Running Whys – Toby Richardson

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Toby Richardson of Fredericton, shown here in the finish area at the 2013 Marathon By The Sea in Saint John, qualified for the 2015 Boston Marathon last October in Moncton and is one of the approximately 2,100 runners expected to participate in the 2014 Scotiabank Fredericton Marathon May 11. Photo Submitted.

 

This is the second of three stories in the Daily Gleaner (@dailygleaner) on runners who will be competing in the Fredericton Marathon next week.

Toby outlines her courageous fight that involved her family, friends but more importantly, her own commitment. Among the rewards along this 4.5 year period of recovery was qualifying for the 2015 Boston Marathon.

But the personal rewards along her journey are much more significant.

Her story is below.

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For over two decades, Toby Richardson relied on food and alcohol as her crutches to get through life.

All that changed four and half years ago when the Fredericton resident rediscovered a passion for running and began rebuilding, aiming toward a better way of life.

Richardson, 45, will be one of more than 250 marathon runners at next week’s Scotiabank Fredericton Marathon, but for her, this run is just another step in a journey that is much longer than the 42.2 km route and much more important.

Richardson’s story, however, is not about the pursuit of fast times and finish lines but an inspirational personal recovery that’s taken courage, support and dedication. It’s one that won’t end with the 36th annual edition of the popular race.

“Four and a half years ago, I was sick, 50 pounds overweight and nearing the end of my 22 year drinking career,” said Toby, as her training for the Marathon reached the final stages. “Getting sober changed my life as I knew it and it was far more difficult than completing a marathon. I was forced to dig deep to rebuild a life that was to become more meaningful, balanced and healthy.”

One of the key steps in her recovery was starting to run again 10 years after completing a half marathon that admittedly didn’t go that well. Now, she’s got two marathons under her belt and has even qualified for the 2015 Boston Marathon. In addition to relying on running to help in her recovery, Richardson enlisted the help of her personal network, those whose love and support were critical, serving as another collective crutch in her journey.

Specifically, she cites her parents, David and Glenna Richardson, her boyfriend Jamie Pickard and her girlfriends Maryanne Davies, Tina Waterhouse-Campbell and Lisa Stafford.

With them and their unwavering support, guidance and just being there, they’ve helped during the most difficult moments in her recovery and as well as being on hand to celebrate the special moments.

They will be there with her next Sunday – if not physically, then in spirit – saluting their daughter, friend and partner and she races with approximately 2,100 others in all of the distances through the streets and trails of New Brunswick’s Capital City.

“My support team is extensive both on the trail and off,” Toby said. “There are days I have difficulty connecting the dots or even tying my shoe laces. Living with G.A.D.(Generalized Anxiety Disorder) would be impossible without guidance from the mental health professionals at Victoria Health Center. My girlfriends have seen me at my worst and continue to love me when I can’t love myself.

“Same goes for a strong and supportive boyfriend (who’s also running) and incredible parents who see my successes especially when I don’t. I’m surrounded by love and support.”

As for running, Richardson competed and completed her first marathon last August, in 23C conditions at the Marathon By The Sea, where she clocked a 4:27.09 time.

“I was so proud, never imagining I’d ever make the finish line,” she said.

It spurred her on but even the most optimistic people could not have imagined what happened next, when at the Legs for Literacy Marathon in October, she shaved more than 35 minutes off her time in 10C conditions and qualified for the 2015 Boston Marathon in 3:51.37.

“Qualifying for Boston is something that will always be special for me personally.”

Richardson was born in Fredericton and for the past 14 years, has called Marysville home, so she is well aware of the city’s trail system that makes up a large portion of the Fredericton Marathon’s double-loop course.

This upcoming event, for her, is part of prep work for Boston next April and she is aiming to escape next weekend free of injury. A new personal best won’t hurt either.

However, in the bigger picture, it’s 42.2 km further along in her emotional and important journey.

“Overcoming stress and anxiety is a life long journey, so if my new crutch is running, I’ll take it along with all its many benefits,” she said. “I run for my mental health, my love of chocolate, self-esteem and for recovery. I’m 4.5 years sober and I am a runner.”

Continue reading