David’s Virtual Boston Marathon

Monday September 07, 2020 in Duncan BC. What an exciting day it was going to be. I kept waking up worried I’d miss my cell’s alarm ring at 4am. Yes, 4 am. My husband expected I’d be leaving early but “Wow! That’s really early… When’s David (Sykes) planning on starting?” I reply “5 am.” I wondered if David got any sleep. Nevertheless, I arrived at the Chesterfield parking lot at the back of the Sportsplex. No one there. Well, there were two vehicles and it was 4:35 so I guess I’ll wait.

I began to wander around for a bit. Hmmm! The track is sooo dark. My iPhone camera is slow as molasses. I had moved to the other end of that walkway at 4:57am and stood by the gate entrance to the track. I look up and see two figures running towards me. Another Ceevacs runner, John Allen, later told me that he met David and Rob at the Chesterfield parking lot and walkway to the Sportsplex. I must have been alerted by John cheering David as he began his race. Awesome! This is so great.

I hear David say in a surprised voice, “Oh! It’s Ellen.” I snap off a couple of very blurry photos as he passes by 4:57:25. David’s running supported by Rob Grant. Cool! Rob, prior to today has completed 2 marathons and 3 Ironman races. As Rob runs by, he asks if I’m going to run the track with them. “No, I’m walking so David has someone to pass as he makes his way around the track.” As I walk around, I try to find a position to take advantage of what little light there is. I take a photo as David and Rob run by calling out “That’s 5 times around. We’re off Ellen.” It’s 5:15am.

See the map to follow David’s route.

David and Rob are on their way over to the Marchmont/Wharncliffe area and do two laps of the streets following Coach Sheron “Crooked fence” route. They will be coming down Chesterfield, Howard, Heather and Beverly soon. I cross the Trans Canada Hwy and head for Thrifty’s to find a good spot to cheer them on. Oh no! Shocked, I realize I’m in the wrong spot when I see David and Rob do a twisty turn through Thrifty’s parking lot and north onto the TransCanada Highway. At least I have proof that 2 runners were seen running through Thrifty’s parking lot around 6am!

I had plenty of time now to get to my next destination on Canada Avenue just past Sherman (about ½ k on Friendship Trail). However, the sun hadn’t risen, so the light was bad. No pictures were possible as David and Rob come flying off the trail and onto the road. “Looking great, guys!” They are bound for a maze weaving through the streets of Duncan. I found out later from David that Trish Laliberte met them at about the 17k mark, snapped a couple of photos and began running.” Trish is a fierce runner and a massage therapist. David told me he was unaware that Trish would be joining and what a pleasant surprise it was for him.

For now, I head down Canada Avenue towards the Casino (23k for David and Rob), thinking that this wasn’t the best of choices for taking photos. But the other side of the bridge could be good, and the sun will be up by the time they come running over it around 7:15.

As I parked by the bridge next to Boys Rd. a figure goes flying by me. What the heck? There’s Ceevacs marathoner, Angela MacLean from Ladysmith! I jump out of my car and start running after her but loose her as she disappears over the bridge. As I’m about to turn, Angela comes running back and I yell, “They haven’t come by yet!” Angela turns around and heads for the bridge again to meet up with the group at the Casino.

Minutes later, I see David and Angela, Rob clapping and Trish waving as they come off the bridge, running in a tight square formation. Wonderful! David picked his support well, even if it was unintentional. It was quite an experience seeing these 4 athletes running straight at me with David and Angela out front and Trish and Rob behind them with hydration packs on. They look like a solid block running forwards. That changed when they turned onto Boys Rd and had to run in a line stretched out along the narrow side of the road. These runners were moving fast, though it is a bit risky even at 7:10 am but they seemed comfortable.

Jim Ramsey appeared in his car as they were coming over the bridge and watched as they ran down Boys Rd in a line and then changing their formation ever so slightly, running in a larger square formation. Jim is a long-time marathoner, triathlete and Ceevacs member. I actually ran my first Royal Victoria marathon in the same race as Jim in the early 80’s. Jim was just a bit faster than me; maybe 2 hours plus or so. Haha! I finished with a smile though and got my picture in the Times Colonist the next day!

Now David and his crew have run about 25k and they are looking strong and relaxed. These folks are moving fast. Jim has headed down Mission Rd and is waiting for them at Sahilton Road. On Mission Rd., I take a couple of quick artsy shots that show that my photographer skills are sub-standard, and I that I must take some sort of online course. Too bad but no time right now. I have to get to the Old Farm Market where a few people are waiting for David to run by.

Sheron had been taking photos at the Casino and left for the Old Farm Market to run back to meet the group. We passed one another on the road; she to meet David, Rob, Angela and Trish at Sahilton Rd to run an out and back then to the Old Farm Market where I was headed.

Just as Teresa Lewis-Schneider, accomplished marathoner and 2019’s winner of the Lake to Lake 1/2, drives up to the market, parks next to me, jumps out to join David, Trish, and Rob as they run by while Sheron ends her run. Wow! David really does have great support out there. This is so much fun with people taking turns running to support David. The group heads off towards Cow Bay to the Robert Service Memorial Park (33.5k) and prepare to do an out and back to The Old Farm Market. Once again, my prowess as a photographer shines at least catching Teresa’s legs which you will see in David’s Virtual Boston Marathon album! I’m pretty sure Lois is cringing by now!

Susan Marshall, Ceevacs marathoner and husband, Bob arrive, after having gone to the wrong market and are sorry they’ve missed David and crew. Susan asks if Ben and Wendy have come just as they drive up. Sheron calls out “They are a few minutes away” and off Ben and Wendy race towards Cow Bay. Ben Marrs is another experienced marathoner having completed the Lake to Lake in 2019 coming in 7th overall. Wendy Marshall has run in numerous races and having just retired is running like the wind. Yes, Ceevacs runners just keep on coming to support David.

Meanwhile Angela has turned around at the Market to pick up her car and head to the turnaround on Cowichan Bay to give David water and ice. She’d planned for a week. “It’s very nice of her” says Sheron.

By this time, Sheron and I realize we’ve got to get back to the Sportsplex as Sheron’s got some ideas for the finish. When I get there, Sheron’s got the storage unit open and is taking bags out of the trailer. “Can you get the extension cords?” Sheron calls out as I arrive. “All of them?” I ask looking down at the large metal garbage can and Sheron says, “Yes, we may need hundreds of feet.” I wonder “What is she doing?” Can you detect our frenetic energy rising? Well, that’s what was happening! Time is racing by. Its 8:20!

Sheron sets the hose reel on the ground and starts to pull the flags off the hose reel. “They are knotted somewhere. We need to find the knot and take that piece out, so David can run through the ribbon!” Sheron never ceases to amaze me with her creativity. She’s so charged she begins asking me for the time every few minutes. While I take the knots apart, Sheron digs out the Ceevacs Finishers Arch. This is going to be great! But will we have enough time to get this all up and ready before David, Rob and crew enter the track? We don’t even know if he’s finishing at the Sportsplex yet. We begin setting up on the track anyway when Sheron realizes the electricity is not on. We keep assuring each other that things will work out; All will be ready. Sheron runs off to find a Sportsplex staff person who enthusiastically comes to help us out. Thankyou Sportsplex for your support.

We get the Ceevacs Arch blown up by 8:30 and Angela appears out of the blue carrying a sign she’s made at 8:40. This woman seems to be everywhere! It is so nice that everything is coming together! Yay! David’s going to be so amazed. Ceevacs members are appearing from all entrances. This is such a great example of how Ceevacs members support each other. This is actually staggering considering it is the last day of the long weekend. Sheron and I think that Ceevacs have had to social distance and self-isolate for so long that David’s marathon is allowing us to celebrate that we are alive and can begin to make our own dreams come true again. All is ready and just in time as 9:10 is fast approaching.

Sheron is satisfied everything is ready and heads off to meet David at 9:09. Almost immediately Ben and Sheron appear with Rob, Trish, David, Robin and Wendy running down the walkway side by side. Fantastic! What a performance! They look like the Magnificent Seven, strong and ready for anything. These runners have run through several different neighbourhoods back and forth and Robin Taylor, experienced racer and triathlete must have joined as the runners came off the Trans Canada at Trunk Road for the final push towards Chesterfield and the Sportsplex. What an incredible sight watching these seven runners entering from the side of the track. Very inspiring! Sooo moving! I know, I know, I’m getting carried away, but it was pretty exhilarating for those of us watching them arrive with David in the lead.

This normally, ordinary group of runners striding forward with David and Rob as they near the completion of Davids Virtual Boston Marathon is impressive. For those who don’t know, that’s the look of two runners who have run 42.2k and had an incredible support team throughout. Upon entering the track, David, Rob and crew are directed to run the entire track lining them up for a photo shoot.

Trish and Robin run on either side of David and Rob is hidden behind David with his arms stretched out to the sides as if David is flying towards the finish. David runs through the Arch with a huge smile on his face as he breaks through the ribbon held by Ceevacs President Cara and Angela and to the cheers from his Ceevacs friends. What a finish David! What a finish! Congratulations David and Rob and crew!

Finally, Angela meets David at the finishers side of the Arch and hangs her Boston finishers medal around his neck. OMG, this must be such a completing gesture for David to be able to bow and have a Boston finishers medal placed around his neck. His Boston medal had not yet arrived from the Virtual Boston Marathon folks.

It was very powerful to witness the drive and strength over 42.2k that David conveyed. David and Rob stand for a photo op with everyone cheering. They have completed David’s Boston Virtual Marathon in Duncan! What a day to remember!

The Aftermath:

David checks his watch while chatting with Jim and walks through the crowd of people who have come to share in and celebrate his finish. My eye falls on Rob as he gets up and stands to check his watch and Robin who is quickly circulating amongst the crowd to get signatures on the “Go David Boston Marathon” card” In between Angela and Robin is Jim Ramsey, who cheered for David and his crew at various checkpoints.

Everyone was so excited about so many members from Ceevacs coming together that we had to take a photo. It was great to see David complete his Virtual Boston Marathon. It was also inspiring to see the camaraderie of everyone that I did and didn’t see at the Sportsplex cheering and giving their support to David. In Sheron’s words “I just LOVE our amazing club!”

A surprised but kind Sportsplex user who was walking his dog agreed to photograph the 18 Ceevacs members at the Sportsplex. I’m so glad he knew how to take a photo and did not take our heads off!

Later, David sent me an email after his marathon:

“Just so you know my calves cramped up starting about the 37K mark. This happened about 3 times and on all 3 occasions Trish and Teresa did a rapid massage. Great to have health care professionals running with you. Everyone running at the time was so super supportive. I’m not sure you want to mention this or not but it’s something I won’t forget. Cheers.”

It was a privilege David, really… to be a part of your challenge and success.

The End
Until next time…London? Eh?

Several have contributed many photos of David’s Virtual Boston Marathon. Everyone is welcome to send their photos to Sheron and she will put them on for your enjoyment. Click here to view photos on the Ceevacs Roadrunners FB Page
Send photos to Sheron at: coach@ceevacs.com

Ellen Candlish for Ceevacs Connect