Jim Silvester

Jim Silvester

Jim Silvester turns 99 years young this April 7, 2022.


“I just love life.

It’s been a good life.

You talk positively.  Got to think positively.

If you want to get anywhere, you got to keep moving.

Coming into the finishing line.  I was very proud to be part of that.”

                                                                                         Jim Silvester

Over the last 4 ½ years that I’ve been a part of Ceevacs, I have met some very interesting folks. One of the interesting and oldest folks just happens to be Ceevacs member, Jim Silvester. His daughter, Brenda Niziol, my friend and occasional run companion suggested I meet Jim at Brenda’s trailer at the Osborne Bay Resort in Crofton on May 09, 2021. It was a beautiful day and Jim had just come back from a walk on the Crofton Sea Walk feeling high. Here’s a glimpse into Jim’s very active life, how he came to be a Ceevacs member and has walked and participated in walk events over the last 5 years.

“I was born on April 07, 1923, in Winnipeg, Manitoba and turned 98 years old this year. I joined the Navy at the age of 16, at the outbreak of the war, on November 6, 1939. I was classed as a Canadian Boys Seamen because I was underage. My first draft was in Halifax where I took a gunnery course and they shipped me to the West Coast. I got assigned to a Corvette, named after a town on the mainland of BC, called the Quesnel. I spent 2 years 11 months aboard her. We did a lot of work on the West Coast. During the war, when Canada started running convoys on the East Coast, more escorts were needed, so five Corvettes from British Columbia, including the Quesnel, went through the Panama Canal to Halifax. Right off the bat, we were running convoys across the ocean. I took part in the Battle of the Atlantic, protecting convoys carrying food and supplies like lumber.”

“I’ve travelled completely around the world by water. It wasn’t a cruise ship, either. When you are in the middle of the Atlantic and a big storm hit, the waves come over the sides and freeze on the deck. The ship is completely covered with ice. The guns, boats and the life rafts; everything is frozen. We had to get out and grab anything we could, to get rid of all that weight. If the ship was too heavy, it would end up top heavy, roll at an angle a couple times and then you wondered, “Is she going to come back up?” We had quite a few of those rolls at a bad angle. Not pleasant.”

“I’ve been active my whole life. You had to be active all the time. Sometimes, when you were at sea, if your duty was 4 hours on and 4 hours off, you were always on lookout. We’d be sailing along, with men stationed on deck in various positions with binoculars, looking out for submarines. When we were off lookout duty, we would be in our mess playing cards, trying to be as mentally and physically active as possible or catching a little shut eye.” “When I look back on my life, I remember when I was in Montreal, waiting to pick up a different ship, and my buddy and I went ashore. There was a lot of activity and dance halls and such.


For some unknown reason I asked this girl to dance, and we clicked, just like that… Our ship was putting on a display. I asked if she’d like to see that, and she said yes! So, I took her there, then back home, I gave her a kiss. Goodnight. From there on that was it! It just worked out. We just clicked; right there. We just knew. Gwen and I got married on June 29, 1946.”

“After I got out of the Navy, I ended up working as Service Manager for a typewriter company in a township outside of Montreal. After 6 years there, I said, I’ve had enough this stuff, I’m going back to Winnipeg where I was born and raised.”

“When I got back to Winnipeg, I spent 10 years as a part-time instructor with the Naval Reserve. At the same time, I had a job with the Great West Insurance Company looking after over 1000 machines in 3 buildings. I was forever hopping around from this building to that building. I’d come and go pretty well as I wanted. There were 5 floors, and I never took the elevator. I always went up and down the stairs. During my lunch hour, I’d go for a walk around the Parliament buildings where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers met. I spent 28 years there and they came along one day and said, “Anybody who has spent 25 years or more, can retire.” I said, “Where do I sign?”

Jim’s daughter, Brenda, is a Ceevacs member herself, wrote that after her dad retired, her parents spent several years as snowbirds, living in Winnipeg for six months and Texas for six months. Then in 1992, they moved to Duncan to be near their family and grandchildren.


“In 2006, I had the esophagal cancer and had a stay in the hospital. It was detected in time and removed but it took a few months to recover, but then I was back at it again. Gwen and I were living in a mobile home at the time. Then, I lost my wife of 62 years in 2008.” Brenda says “It took the wind out of dad’s sails. It took him a bit to recover from that. Losing the love of your life; that can do it for anyone.” Brenda and Joe renovated their home and made a suite for Jim in 2013. “I’ve lived in my suite in Brenda and Joe’s home ever since. That’s where I spend my day doing crafts and going bowling three times a week.”


“In November 2014, I suffered a stroke.” Brenda reflected, “Being as strong as he was, he came back quickly.” “I was impressed with Brenda’s accomplishments running and keeping fit and she thought I might like to try walking in a race. She signed me up for the Navy 5k Run in 2015 with my nephew and his wife, and of course, Joe and Brenda. We were called the “UP SPIRITS” team and I was given a special recognition honor and a gold medal for my age achievement. “He was “gung-ho” from that day on” wrote Brenda. Jim reflects, “I’ve been in Navy races, starting off with the Esquimalt 5K race; up one hill and half-way down and up and down again and again! It was full of hills! Not only that but I have been in many parades, always at the very front, and always carrying the White ensign with two petty officers, one on either side carrying rifles. The Chief Petty Officer was in behind and he always carried the saber. We lead all the parades walking many miles at a time. I just loved it, getting out front, proud as heck”.

“I enjoyed that first race and kept up the workouts. In 2016 and 2017, I participated in the VIRA series, Bazan Bay 5k race (with Sheron Chrysler), the Oceanside 5k and the Navy race with Joe. My family, bowling and naval friends were amazed. As my age was rising, my determination got stronger. Like many racers, I like to push myself. But I was not happy with some of my times. Brenda reminded me, “You are not 16 anymore.”

“I remember the day, that I broke my ankle because it was November 11, 2017, at home. I let my little dog Mia, out the back door and she got up and got wrapped around some bushes in the back and right from the steps, there is a little bit of a hill. As I moved to help Mia, I turned around and the next thing I knew, I was down. I had to crawl all the way back up the stairs, yelling for Brenda and Joe. After two operations and three pins later, I had an air boot for quite a while and used a knee walker scooter from a friend from Ceevacs. I zipped around the house like a hot rodder!”

“A broken ankle didn’t stop me. In 2018, I could be found on Monday evenings, walking around the Sportsplex track with the Ceevacs Run/Walk Clinic. As I began to get stronger, I was still not myself and was frustrated. I signed up for Bazan Bay. Sheron was my walking buddy again. It was my 95th birthday a few days before and all of the Ceevacs joined in at the finish line to cheer me on and walk me to the finish line.” Brenda was in awe of her wonderful running club that they would do that for her dad. “Dad had the biggest smile. Not bad for a guy recovering from a broken ankle only 5 months earlier.”


After that race, I traveled with Brenda and Joe, for almost two months, through 9 provinces in Canada and 24 states visiting nieces, nephews and 2 out of 3 of my naval buddies that I’d known for 75 years.

2019… was my biggest busiest year, yet. I started with the Ceevacs Clinic in February, entered the Bazan Bay 5k in April, once again with Sheron, as my walking partner. I loved the attention. I would tell her stories of my past to keep myself distracted. I finished, receiving a gold medal for 95-99 age category. May was the Oceanside 5k and I received a special 96ish award from the Oceanside club. Thanks to Jill Davies for making me feel honored. On May 20, I walked in the Douglas Mile and received a special honor from Cathy Noel for my age achievement. In June, I received another special honor from the Rear Admiral for “Most Experienced Runner”
in the Navy 5K.


“I completed the 5k in the Cowichan Autumn Classic in October and I got a gold medal. I was happy, although I had trouble walking on the terrain. But I did it! I ended the year continuing in my role as Santa at the halfway mark for the Ceevacs Predicted Run in December.”

This year (2021) started out great for me, joining the Ceevacs Run/Walk clinic. When Covid happened, I could no longer participate in the clinic but knew “Turning 98 will be the first challenge! Like many people, I continued to have an active life walking in the Marshmellow Virtual 5k and Navy Virtual 5k and completed not just one but three 5ks in one week on the treadmill! Later, in June 2020, I had my teeth done… 7 teeth removed and replaced with dentures, and I still have the uppers and a nice smile.”

When I met Jim at the resort on May 09, I was shocked to see him using a walker. “What happened to you, Jim?” Jim explained, “I was getting cleaned up and ready to head for bed and suddenly, I did a little split, tried to walk, turned around a little too fast and my knee gave way. Oh, I just hurt myself. I could not get up. Brenda and Joe got me into the bedroom. They found out I was not moving like I should, so called the ambulance, and at the hospital, they did an x-ray and told me I broke my hip. Now as I’m recovering from my broken hip, I do regular exercises for my upper body. I do have pain and every night I go to bed, and I take a couple of Tylenol that helps me sleep. I get up in the morning and I’m able to dress myself, put on my shoes and get up for breakfast. I’m ok now and I wait to start walking with Brenda.

It has been since the end of March that I’ve had aches and pains and forever taking pills. Pain killers. I am finally getting my mobility. From there, I have to keep working and getting around slowly. I have walked with my walker to the end of Crofton Sea Walk and back. I’ve got to take my time. I have no worries. I’ve got experience! I know it’s going to be a little while yet.”

“My life has been sort of up and down, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it since I retired. Brenda and Joe have looked after mom and me. So, there was the Navy, Winnipeg, and living in Shawnigan Lake. With Brenda signing me up with the Ceevacs, VIRA, Navy and the Oceanside races over the last 5 years, I’ve walked the 5K and won 7 medals. I’ve had no competition!”

“Brenda worries about me and is always after me saying, “Come on dad, you can do this.” I’ve got a treadmill, and stationary bike. I do my exercises and I got the weights. Sometimes, we go to the gym and Joe is always there. The physiotherapist tells me different movements I’ve got to make but I do get very impatient. Brenda says I am not going to walk like yesterday. She says I’ve got to take my time and I will build up again. I am about to throw out the walker and be back to walking on my own again. So, I am quite content. I think for my age, I am doing pretty well, same as the ankle did. It just aches now and then. It will take a while.”


Post from Lynn Carroll – Vancouver Island Representative at Quilts of Valour – Canada 98 1/2-Year-Old James Silvester today Dec. 4th received his Quilt of Valour at the Royal Canadian Legion Malahat Br. 134 Shawnigan Lake, BC. YSAG Legion Quilter Fran Whitfield maker of Jim’s Glorious and Free quilt help wrap him up in the Hugs from a Grateful Nation while his daughter Brenda Niziol and friends looked on.
Jim served in the Royal Canadian Navy (1939-1946) from the time he was 16 starting on the HMCS Malaspina in 1941 as an Able Seaman. He ranked up to Leading Seaman aboard the HMCS Quesnel which took part in convoys during WWII and the Battle of Atlantic. He was a Gunner on that ship, and they would have to deploy depth charges when they heard the sonic echoes of the submerged German subs. He was given an Honourable release as Petty Officer and presented with 1939-1945 Star, Atlantic Star, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp, War Medal and Canadian Forces Decoration. He became a Naval Reserve Officer in Winnipeg after his time was over.
He has many, many, stories of his time in the Navy and was Proud to have Served his Country!
Sir, Thank You so very much for your Service to Canada.

“There’s only one thing I can say to other Ceevacs members.
You’ve got to keep on going.
You can’t stop. You MUST keep on going.
People have asked me
“How come you are doing so well?”
“I’m not sitting on my butt watching tv all day long.
I’m up and trying to get around.
I’m walking, doing my exercises.
I want to build myself up so I can do the 5k again. So, keep on moving.”

Thank you, Jim, for sharing your story.

Ellen Candlish

Jim Silvester – Race Records
Bazan 5k – photo courtesy of Lois DeEll
• June 2015 Navy 5k Run “UP SPIRITS” 1:01:46 Special recognition honor and gold medal for my age achievement.
• January 2016 VIRA Bazan Bay 5k 59:28 Gold medal in age category 90-95.
• May 2016 Oceanside 5k 58:05 Gold medal. They don’t give medals for the 5K category, but I got a Gold as a souvineer.
• June 2016 Navy Run 58:36.
• January 2017 Best time yet in Bazan Bay 5k. 57:12 and 94 years old!
• June 2017 Navy 5k Run 1:02:23 Bronze medal in 77-99 age category.
• 2018 VIRA Bazan Bay 1:14:07 Gold medal and standing ovation
• January 2019 Bazan Bay 5k 1:04:24, Gold medal for 95-99 age category.
• May,2019 Oceanside 5k 1:02:04 Special 96ish award from the Oceanside club. Thanks to Jill Davies for making me feel honored.
• May 20, 2019, Walked the Douglas Mile in 18:46 Special honor from Cathy Noel for my age achievement.
• June 2019 Navy 5K 1:02. I received another very special honor from the Rear Admiral which was “Most Experienced Runner”.
• October 2019 Cowichan Autumn Classic 5k 1:13:46. Gold medal and I was happy, but I had trouble walking on the terrain. But I still did it!!

*Special thanks to Jim’s daughter, Brenda Niziol for her input.

My Running Journey, So Far – By Donna Hert

My Running Journey, So Far – By Donna Hert

I had started to run many times in my adult life, but it never seemed to take. Most of my children and their spouses love to run and take it very seriously. My youngest daughter lives in Manhattan, NY and she was part of the very small percentage of people to win a lottery position to run the 2020 New York Marathon. Of course, it was cancelled but she has a rain check to run it in 2023.

In one of my attempts to start running I was visiting family in Squamish and I devotedly put on my old running shoes and headed out on a beautiful June morning. I’m sure I ran less than a 1 km loop, and that very slowly, but on the way back a fellow drove by and hollered out his open window, “You go girl!” I told my family about it saying, “I don’t know if he could tell that I was old or pathetic or both, but I really appreciated his support.” However, even with his support that running journey ended after a few days.

We often have fiddle parties at our house where we gather for a night of live fiddle music. Lauren, our pianist and Allison, one of my fellow fiddlers, are both avid runners. I told Allison of my attempts to become a runner and she suggested I join the Learn to Run clinic put on by the Ceevacs. She very kindly sent me an e-mail telling me about the one that began the first week of February, 2020, which happened to be the same week I turned 64! Reluctantly and without much hope I signed up!

I was so delighted with the encouragement and enthusiasm displayed by the coaches. All the other people in the Learn to Run group were so nice and very much like me. I did not feel old or pathetic at all. We were all there to learn and have fun. Of course, it was disappointing when the clinic, like so many things that spring, was cancelled but it was great to receive a weekly e-mail outlining what we could do to keep up our training.

I was running the 2 minute and walking 1 minute stage on the treadmill so I could time it. I don’t have a cell phone and I thought if I tried to look at my watch I would definitely fall. My supportive son bought me a tiny timer by GymBoss, which I think was less than $20.00. With that I was able to take my runs into the beautiful outdoors. We are lucky enough to live on 15 acres and our long driveway is just over .5 km so when I run up and down it I know I have done 1 km. I will never be a long distance runner but I am committed and I now very much enjoy it. I usually run 3 mornings a week and my longest run, which was part of our family fitness challenge, was 4 km! My normal run is 2 km with the odd 3 km thrown in there. I am quite happy to stay at this stage. It is so much more than I ever dreamed I would do.

Some people call me “churchy” or “religious”, neither of which I feel are apt or complimentary. I prefer to think of myself as spiritual. I always run early in the morning and always by myself. I find my early morning run in the beautiful outdoors to be very spiritual. I find it to be a prayerful and edifying way to start the day. There is a lady who devotedly walks slowly along our road, using two poles. One foggy morning as I was coming up our driveway, I saw her walking along in the fog and she looked like an angel coming out of the mist to inspire me.

Sometimes, when I don’t feel like running, I think of others who don’t feel like continuing some journey. Perhaps someone is tiring of caring for a loved one, tired of trying to make a relationship work, at their wits end of searching for a job, feeling done with supporting a cause they once believed in, feeling they can’t do one more treatment that is required, or thinking they can’t face one more difficult situation in their lives. I think of those individuals and make myself run for them. They will never know that I am holding them in my heart but perhaps it will help a bit. I will never know either.
Last June, when Ceevacs held a relay run, my family encouraged me to join. At that point the most I had ever run, without stopping was a bit over 2 km so I signed up for a 2.5 km section of the run. When we clocked out my run on the vehicles odometer it seemed to be 3 km! Using Google Earth path it also seemed to be 3 km. And it started at the intersection of Herd Road and Maple Bay Road…up hill, right at the start! I was quite worried about it but I did it and when I came to the nice couple who were doing the next section I said, triumphantly, “That is the longest run without stopping I have ever done in my life!” They congratulated me and gave me a virtual high five and my husband was there to take a photo!

I am grateful to all the people at Ceevacs and the Learn to Run Clinic who did not push me to be a runner, but rather pulled me along, using their own strength and enthusiasm. I hope I can do the same for others.
Peace and Joy

David’s Virtual Boston Marathon

David’s Virtual Boston Marathon

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

Angela MacLean – Runner

Angela MacLean – Runner

Angela MacLean – Runner

When my family began to drive around North Cowichan in March 2020, it didn’t take us long before we would see someone running. When I commented on this, my husband who is not a runner, remarked that “If you wander through the forest long enough you will see a bear!” On one particular drive we saw this solitary soul in the distance, moving along and it was a pleasant surprise when I realized it was Ceevacs marathoner, Angela MacLean running with that familiar graceful but lively stride. After that we would see her again and again running the roads of Chemainus, and Duncan; miles from home. Angela seemed to be everywhere!

In July, my run partner, Janis and I were driving along Somenos Road when I saw Angela again, running in the distance. I asked Janis to stop and we talked briefly with Angela about running and how it was affecting her marriage. Angela had been married one year earlier on July 6, 2019. I asked what she thought about my writing an article for Ceevacs Connect and she was enthusiastic. But, when I messaged her later, Angela responded with this short note.

“I loved the idea (of an article for Ceevacs Connect) when you brought it up for sure! (When we were engaged, my husband couldn’t believe I was planning to go for a morning run on our wedding day, but I run 7 days per week so…) But after thinking about it, I realized that getting married hasn’t affected me as a runner. When I first met my husband I kind of warned him that I do run every day, no matter what, even on holidays…and he’s always been Ok with that. I don’t think that will ever change, unless I get some type of life-altering injury.

“Oh yah?” Angela continues to boggle my mind with the next few comments. “My husband, Elliott said I should write about how moving here from Alberta has changed me as a runner…but it hasn’t other than the fact that it’s way more beautiful here, and I do complain about the hills from time to time But, before March 2020, I was training for Boston and possibly ready to PR (Personal Record) even though it would have been my 30th full marathon…. and thought, maybe all these hills aren’t so bad after all… At any rate, I don’t think I have a very compelling story to tell. I wish I did! I’m sorry!”

At the same time, I had become pre-occupied developing questions for Angela when I received her reply. Now, Angela had really begun to interest me. Why was Angela running in Duncan when she lives in Ladysmith? Running 7 days a week? Thirty marathons? What about injuries? I thought she had plenty to say that might inspire others and replied. “Well you’ve actually begun quite a nice story here. I wonder if I can use some of your messages to pass on to others.” I left her with my questions to ponder. I was looking forward to some motivating and informative answers. By the beginning of August, I was about to give up, when Angela messaged me back in mid-August.

“Sorry I didn’t respond to you sooner. I’ve been thinking a lot about WHY I’ve been running 7 days a week, because the “why” has changed a lot for me. Back in 2009 I broke 1:50 for the first time in a half marathon. I realized that this meant I had a chance to qualify for Boston. I saw a book called “Run Less, Run Faster” with a specific training program to achieve a BQ (Boston Qualifier). The idea was to run only 3 days per week, then cross train the other 4 days, in order to prevent injury. However, the 3 days of running were all speed work. Even the long run was fast! When I look back at my training log from that year, I cannot believe I did my long runs at such a ridiculous pace!

Then, I ended up with a horrible case of ITBS (Iliotibial Band Syndrome) leading up to the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, which was to be my first attempt to BQ. Due to the injury, as well as a very warm day, I ran a 4-hour marathon which missed my BQ by 15 minutes. The race was in September 2009. Once I recovered from the ITBS, I started bringing up my mileage and running every day, with no speed work. I ran the California International Marathon in December that year with a 3:51, then the next month I ran the Phoenix Marathon in 3:44, my first Boston Qualifier!

In 2011, when I trained for my first Boston, I did not take a day off running for the entire 4 months of my training until three days before the race. I maxed out at 120 km per week (tricky while working full time), only doing speed work once every 2 weeks, with some other marathons to use as fast-ish training runs. In that 2011 Boston, I ran a 3:34 which is STILL my PR, felt great the whole time and recovered very quickly. Ever since then, I have found that running every day, with little to no speed work, has produced races I am proud of, and kept me from getting injured EXCEPT when I haven’t followed the 10% rule (very preventable). I have even done a couple of 1:35 half marathons, using this training principle.

Running every day of the week is not a conventional way of training. My own family doctor told me that “people expect way too much from their bodies”. But I couldn’t disagree more. People underestimate their bodies ALL THE TIME. The human body is DESIGNED TO RUN! Even back in 2013/14 when I was recovering from surgeries related to the onset of Crohn’s disease, and thought I might never be able to run farther than 5k again, I gradually increased my mileage as much as my body would allow, and eventually at my next marathon which was Houston in 2015, was able to comfortably qualify for Boston and even ran a negative split. The human body is amazing!! By running every day, I am only training my body to do what it was meant to do. Because of this, although I have no talent for running, I have run 29 marathons and qualified for Boston and have typically recovered very quickly from my races.

I am very seldom not training for a marathon, which is why I just keep running every day, all year long. I’m 45 with a lot of miles in my legs and I feel great; maybe my “luck” will run out some day, but until then, as long as I am very careful about my speed work and change my shoes frequently, I should be able to keep from getting injured.

Since March 2020, running has changed a great deal for me, in terms of motivation, because there are no races. I have been running a lot more from my house in Ladysmith, which is extremely hilly, so not super motivating. My favourite places to run are Chemainus and Cherry Point, but for the first time in 20 years, I have been finding it challenging to run alone. I look forward to running with the Ceevacs even more than I did before. I’ve done some virtual races but really dislike the whole premise, so I run every day generally to prevent gaining weight. I try to find new ways to motivate myself and try to remember what I did for each of my 29 marathons, although some of them were done for fun or to pace a friend. Well, there’s the long answer to your questions!!!”

Angela sent me some of her favourite photos with her email signature that unwittingly told me she was a Runner, Music Teacher and “Dog lover”. I thought, Hmmm… “Angela has a dog?” Well, now I had to know about her dog; Half of the Ceevacs runners have dogs! If they aren’t talking about running, they are telling you their latest crazy dog story. As it turns out Angela has 2 dogs according to Facebook! But we will have to hear that story another time.

It took a bit of cajoling, but I’m happy that Angela’s story has prompted me to look at things a little differently when it comes to my own running and training. For those readers who are unfamiliar with the 10% Run Rule that Angela referred to, here’s the short of it from Amby Burfoot, Runner’s World.

“Be the Tortoise, not the Hare.
Increase your weekly and monthly running totals gradually.
Use the 10-Percent rule as a general guideline but realize that it might be too aggressive for you – especially if you are injury prone.”

Angela MacLean and Ellen Candlish


1. Wedding Day July 6th, 2019 in Sooke BC (top)
2. Canada Day 15 km race in Edmonton (top)
3. 1080 Day 10k run in Edmonton
4. Boston Marathon 2017 in finishers cape
5. Angela and Elliott after Boston Marathon 2017 finish
6. Colour Run – Where you get sprayed with paint at various points throughout the race. It was SOOO MUCH FUN!!!!
7. K-100 relay race in Kananaskis
8. Email signature

Thank you, Angela for sharing your story, photos and your time. Ellen

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THE LOOP – James Griffin

THE LOOP – James Griffin

THE LOOP – James Griffin

Ellen asked me to write something about the cross country run one can do to include Maple, Prevost and Tzouhalem mountains. I’ve put this together, including personal reminiscences, as a contribution to “Ceevacs Connect”.

As I remember (and the old sometimes forget), for maybe 10 years I usually ran the course every year, initially making a few changes. The route eventually stabilised. I think I last ran the course 3 years ago (2017). I have been torn about whether I will try the course again: If I do, it would certainly be at this time of the year.

Standing in the middle of Chesterfield Sportsplex you can see the three main mountains (Maple, Prevost and Tzouhalem) which surround The Cowichan Valley. We are incredibly fortunate in North Cowichan to have the bulk of these mountains incorporated as working Municipal Forests that have been so well organised for all our interests for many decades. It was just before my 60th when I looked up from the Sportsplex and figured it might be possible to run a loop from our house in Maple Bay to include these three peaks. I had run somewhat on the trails of all three mountains over the previous years, and I guessed that 9 hours would be a good time to aim for. It was on my 60th birthday that I first set off.

I might say at the outset that I am sure anyone who knows these mountains to any extent, likely has a strong sense of the individual character of each mountain. They really are quite different, but I realise our perception of the differences are due in large part to what we ourselves take to the mountain. Still, I will say that I have always felt most at home on Maple Mountain. It has for me a sensation of unfathomable age, and there are nooks and crannies where you could be safe if you were attacked by goblins, for example. It doesn’t really care about you one way or another, but it is in no way unfriendly. I feel very differently about Mt Prevost, which despite all its attraction visually, always makes me uncomfortable. It keeps some nasty secrets and I am happy to get off it. Mt Tzouhalem is more straightforward, is the most spectacular visually, and will adapt itself to humour you.

On my first attempt I set off before 07:00am with a camel back full of Gatorade, a Cliffs Bar and a handful of dates. I’ve always followed this routine, and it has worked well for me. I don’t like running with a camel back, but I can put up with it. In the last 10 years or so I have been lucky enough to have my wife, Laura wave me off and tell me to phone her at work when I get back.

Running along Arbutus Avenue and up Maple Mountain Road, I start on the Maple Mountain’s Blue Trail. The first time I tried this part of the loop, my friend Tammy joined me and that was before she ran away from home to join the RCMP. It was a very cold morning, and we missed the curve in the trail and continued under the power lines getting lost in the heavy broom that had developed. We had to back track. Maintenance under the power lines has made the curve we missed more obvious now, but I always think at that point of the first time I was up here when Tammy had to help me get my frozen fingers back in my gloves, and I’ve always avoided the winter months ever since.

The Pink Trail curves off the Blue to the left just after the power lines: you can access the Pink again when it curves back nearer Crofton almost within view of the Mill where I used to work. This second access is what I used to take, but I’ve found it best to take the first access point, although it is easy to miss.

A straightforward climb, and the Pink connects to Maple Main, where you can turn left for a few hundred meters and arrive at the microwave station where I take my first break to suck Gatorade, munch on some dates and look down into Birds Eye Cove.

I return straight down Maple Main, past the section where I once brought my youngest, Dominic, tobogganing one snowy afternoon when he was young.

I arrive at Osbourne Bay Road. Here I cross and then run along Richards Main directly opposite. The first time I ran this route I didn’t know about a single-track path that runs off to the right a km or so along, but Ceevacs member, Darrell, then Municipal Forester, took time to meet me and show me where the path tees off. It is always pretty overgrown. Once I ran this loop when it was still a little damp out and my legs and shoes were quickly soaked, so I never try the loop now unless its bone dry out, for there is still a long way to go. This path leads through the woods and then an open area of clear-cut where the memorial cross on Mt Prevost is clearly visible dead ahead. Richards Main terminates on Richards Trail.

At Richards Trail I turn right, running to Westholme, left on Westholme, past Bell McKinnon and on to the Island Highway. I cross the highway. There is always lots of traffic, a little surreal after the quiet of the mountains, and the crossing seems exceedingly dangerous.

I run along Somenos, remembering one year when Kelly, another Ceevacs friend drove out to meet me en route. That was close to fenced land to the left which always looks to me like it should be a Kentucky horse farm, oddly placed in the Cowichan Valley.

Kelly and I ran together, turning off Somenos, up Mt Prevost Road and onto Mt Prevost Main. This is a pretty straightforward climb signposted (sort of) to arrive at the top of Mt Prevost. I usually figure I’m now about halfway, and it is usually about 11:30am. Once, the hang gliders were jumping off as I arrived, and it’s a good spot to pause, have a Cliff Bar and look around.

I descend Mt Prevost the same way I came up. I’ve considered, instead, taking one of the many trails that exist, but, as I said, I don’t choose to linger on Mt Prevost. I know some runners prefer uphill to downhill, but by this stage of the run I’ve developed a most
pronounced preference for the downhill sections, and I feel I’m somehow getting my own back on that slog uphill by going down the same way.

All good things come to an end, and I have often found that by the time I cross the Lake Cowichan Highway on Somenos, I’m having to walk quite a bit. It is also getting hot at the time of day that I’m out, and I make a note to avoid this run in the height of the summer. One of the first times I ran this course someone was installing posts to build a wooden fence around his garden just by where I had turned off Somenos an hour or two earlier. His fencing had progressed a little by the time I came off Mt Prevost that same trip, and it has stood for many years. But it is now looking pretty tumbled down. So, it passes.

I used to turn left off Somenos, onto the Lake Cowichan Highway and then south on the Island Highway. I don’t dislike heavy traffic on an ordinary run, but I do find the heavy traffic on the Highway disorienting at this stage, and the big trucks keep blowing my hat off, so I stick to Somenos. I turn left at Sherman, right at Canada to Beverly to the roundabout. I don’t know why, but I’ve never much liked running on the new dike. I stick to the road, go across the roundabout at Lakes, up Rosewood and Brier onto Tzouhalem.

Along Tzouhalem for a few km, I turn left through Providence Farm, past the horse barns and the blackberries and start uphill. The first time I ran this I missed the sharp left turn on the main trail and ended up bushwhacking to climb up the cliffs directly under the Cross, an experience I’m not keen to repeat. I spoke to Sheron later who told me to take the sharp left not long after leaving the farm, and this works much better, although it does take you up The Wall on the *Gut Buster. Once when running the Gut Buster, I meet Prairie Inn Harriers’ Carlos, ‘The Jackal’ having stopped up ahead of me to take in the view and chat to whoever choose to join him. I think about it and pass on.

It is a steady climb to the Cross, and then pretty flat along the ridge to the Look Out. If you are up here at the right time of the year you can clearly hear music wafting up from the Folk Festival at Providence Farm.

I descend Mt Tzouhalem on “B”. In earlier days of this run, this section of the mountain hadn’t been clear cut and I knew the way back on the trails that our Ceevacs Monday Mt Tzouhalem group used to run. But after the clear cutting, things changed. The second time I did the loop I had come up “Kingsview instead of through Providence Farm, and I had dropped into Jim M’s house in The Properties for a drink. He joined me for an hour or so, running up and then back down together, but we got a little disoriented when we arrived into the then-new clear cut. It was getting on towards evening and I didn’t want to get off the mountain too far away from Maple Bay, so we had to wander around a bit in that moonscape before descending. As I remember, the old trails had been obliterated. Later, Sheron suggested a **mountain bike path leading off to the right immediately before the clear cut, and I’ve taken that ever since.

After a seemingly endless descent, this path comes out at the top of Nevilane Drive. Then, it is straight down Nevilane Drive and Osprey onto Maple Mountain Road and so home.

Home means lots and lots of hot sweet tea with soft boiled eggs, homemade bread and Marmite and then strawberry jam, a soak in a bath and a nap. Then up for supper with a bottle of wine, and bed.

By the way, I’ve never made that 9 hours, not by quite a long shot, but maybe I should try again. But not in winter, not when it is at all wet underfoot and not in the heat of summer. That means about now…Hmmm…Dragons live forever, but not so little boys…Maybe some things are best left alone.

Thank you, James Griffin for documenting your experience on the Loop.

• Gmap of James Mountain Loop: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=7503928

• Click here for the Municipality of North Cowichan maps of Maple Mountain, Mount Richards, Mount Prevost and Mount Tzouhalem

P.S. from Ellen
James continues to run at 73 years old. I asked him what he’s been doing lately, and he said, “A couple of months ago I was following a training programme I had cobbled together for the North Olympic Marathon in Washington State. I maintained the programme up to the date of the planned event in early June, although it was clearly going to be cancelled, or, in any event, I clearly was not going to go there!”

“Sheron may be able to draw a good map, I believe. My efforts floundered because many of the trails I couldn’t find on existing maps. They had to be substituted by straight lines, which were both very inaccurate and odd-looking. “

“For those of you who are not familiar with the Cowichan Valley, Sheron has added a map that shows what James has described to give you a visual sense of The Loop.” Thank you Sheron.

P.S. from Sheron:
*GutBuster Trail Series is now the Vancouver Island Trail Series
** The mountain bike path formally named the ‘Muni Trail’ is now called, ‘Bumble Bee’. The top section of the Bumble Bee trail designated for downhill mt bikers.

– Laura (wife) and I ran the Lock Down Relay from Maple Bay to meet Ellen and Bill on May 30 /20. There were 3 spokes: Maple Bay/Crofton/Chemainus to Mt. Prevost school, the second one from Shawnigan/Mill Bay to Mt Prevost School and the third from was from Lake Cowichan.
– The photo was, I believe, taken on the trail between the Cross and the Lookout on Tzouhalem, when I was collecting trail ribbons used to mark the Gutbuster Run (hence the garbage bag!). When running the Loop, this was a very happy stretch for me as I was now confident that I would be finishing.
– I was training at the Sportsplex wearing my Edge to Edge t-shirt.
– I came in 5th in my age group in the Victoria marathon 2014.
– This photo has, as I’m certain you know, Mt Prevost in the background. I always find that (Somenos) dike such a damn slog, and I think it shows, doesn’t it!

Nick Versteeg – Runner

Nick Versteeg – Runner

Nick Versteeg – Runner


When I began writing for Ceevacs Connect and seeking runners who were willing to tell their stories, I had no idea that our blog was reaching so many runners. Then a friend emailed and recommended Nick Versteeg as someone who had an interesting story. I admit, I was a little nervous about interviewing someone I had never met but I was intrigued by what I heard about him; In less than a minute I was put at ease.

Nick Versteeg was born in Holland in 1949. When he came to Canada, he lived in a variety of places but most recently Vancouver, Cowichan Valley, Cowichan Bay and now Victoria. While living in Vancouver Nick was introduced to running by his son who was moving into a third floor, condo where he found out he was “not in such good shape”. Nick kidded him about it and four months later, his son announced that he was running in the Victoria Half Marathon. He invited Nick to watch. Nick’s son called again three months later, saying “You teased me into doing the half marathon” so “I’ve registered us to run in the Victoria Half Marathon next fall!” While Nick had never run before, he was motivated to try. He had 8 months to train. That was 10 years ago.

Nick was hooked and whenever he could, he ran the Victoria Half Marathon and the Vancouver Sun 10km but never trained for them. While living in Glenora, in the Cowichan Valley, Nick enjoyed running the Cowichan Autumn Classic. He liked to “wait for the cookies”. Nick declares “It’s fun to run for a certain time”, but “It’s just great to run.”

In 2019, Nick Versteeg planned to tour Europe for eight months, with his wife, Elly while completing his iBook biography series “From Baker to Filmmaker”. They visited family in Holland, travelled through Portugal and Spain shopping in markets, enjoying the local foods, and visiting museums, art galleries and castles in each country. And of course, Nick ran. He had signed up to run the Toulouse Semi (Half) Marathon in France on Sunday, October 20, 2019. As he finished the 21 km race, he raised the Canadian flag above his head. When he crossed the line, his name was announced, and he was acknowledged as the only Canadian to run the race. His ankles hurt from the cobblestones but otherwise, all was well. (Click on the video attached of Nick’s final 17 seconds before crossing the line).

Shortly after that, Nick and Elly settled in southern France, in Olonzac, known as the “Capital of the Minervois” a wine growing region with a population 1,797; about 400 residents more than Crofton. Olonzac was a friendly village, not far from the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea and the Spanish border with numerous roads that were rarely used; Ideal for runners like Nick. Only 20 minutes from Olonzac was Carcassonne, located on a hill, it is a historic, medieval city, surrounded by double walls 3km in length, with 52 towers spread throughout, and a citadel dating back to the Gallo-Roman times. In 1997, the Carcassonne castle was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Historically, another great place to run!

From Olonzac, Nick travelled by train to his second race late in February 2020. The 28th edition of the Paris Semi Marathon was to be held on Sunday, March 01st. On Friday, he picked up his bib and t-shirt. On Saturday, Nick scouted the route where he would be one of 40,000 runners racing the next day. When Nick arrived home Saturday afternoon, he checked his email and to his surprise, the Paris race had just been cancelled due to COVID. When he told me this, I thought “He just lost the moon!”

Nick and Elly are “pretty pragmatic” people. There were 40,000 people planning to run. Nick had run the Vancouver Sun 10k and was familiar with what it is like running with 50,000 runners.” In this case, it was best not to run that close to people. Yes, he was disappointed but “People’s health is #1.” Instead, Nick ran his own ½ marathon in the rain passing such sites as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre which were not on the original route. Way to go Nick! Glad you didn’t let that training go to waste. While this was a huge disappointment, Nick later received an email that the race would be held in September. Unfortunately, that’s not happening either. Finally, Nick received the good news that he would get a voucher to enter any certified half marathon in the world. Wow!

Nick and Elly travelled to Mirepoix, France a small town with population of 3,162, just slightly larger than Chemainus. It was a beautiful, quiet rural town with covered walkways and houses painted in pastel colours. It was easy to run in. One week after the COVID announcement, a full lockdown was instituted, which meant when you left home you had to carry a piece of paper with your plan of what you were doing for the next hour. Runners were initially allowed to run where they wanted but were eventually restricted to run no more than 4km from their homes. Nick was lucky to be living in the Pyrenees, where it was a little easier to run than in the city and not so many people! When the Canadian Embassy alerted them to come home asap, they were in the beginning of the 14-day lockdown and felt it was a risk to fly so early in March. The planes were packed; it was chaos. After the 14-day lockdown was extended for another month, Nick and Elly chose to wait a while longer. Finally, they returned home to Victoria and were quarantined for 2 weeks. All has been well since with some incredible memories.

Nick has found running is not only a way to stay in shape, but it is a time when he can think creatively about his work and life. The thought to learn animation developed on one run. Running has inspired many ideas resulting in his making documentaries including productions about the Cowichan Valley such as “Once Upon a Day”, a short video that “showcases the beautiful Cowichan Valley” and “Resilience” a film about the Cowichan River. Nick had young chefs from all over the Canada competing on his show, “The Next Great Chef” which ran on Global for 2 years. While living on his hobby farm “The Laughing Geese”, near Glenora, he supplied the local chefs in Cowichan with produce. I looked up the origin of Mirepoix, France where Nick lived this year and found that mirepoix is a crucial ingredient in French cookery that includes carrots, onions and celery, acting as the base of many recipes. The name is derived from an 18th century Duke of Mirepoix who created the recipe. I wondered if Nick chose to live in Mirepoix because of his interest in food security and sustainability, another subject he is passionate about. You may also remember that last year, Nick introduced “A Just Society”, one of the most challenging of his 40-year career to more than 600 people at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre.

Nick asserts “You’re never too old to start running. I began to run at 60 and I turn 71 years old in July.” It’s easy to train. “Make it a habit; Decide to get out and run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.” In many of the places Nick has lived there have been hills and mountains. While running the Sooke 10k last year, he had the opportunity to talk with long time, Ceevacs runner, Hazura who gave Nick some sage advice as he ages. “I can run because I never run hills.” Nick has taken Hazura’s advice to heart and it works for him too.

A friend of Nick’s told me, “He has his best ideas when he is running and had hoped to run the Cowichan Autumn Classic” this fall, which sadly has been cancelled because of COVID. Instead, Nick will continue to enjoy running up and down mountains, along the Galloping Goose, around Happy Valley and other roads on the West Shore and Highlands. Nick states “I love running and plan to run for many more years.”

Thank you, Nick and Elly for sharing your story.
Ellen Candlish


A Trail Runners’ Story of Recovery (Ellen Candlish, Crofton, BC)

A Trail Runners’ Story of Recovery (Ellen Candlish, Crofton, BC)

• Photo above 2019 Ceevacs Cowichan Challenge Ellen assisting in transition with Janis

I was injured Sunday, March 31, 2019. The weather was ideal, the energy was great, and the trails were just as I had remembered them. I was running an out and back trail through the Gowlland Todd Provincial Park with two friends. I’d missed Gowlland Todd and its mix of terrain and amazing viewpoints. Here is my story of accident and recovery.


We’d been out for about 1½ hours enjoying the freedom of the trail and running at a good clip. We were on our way back when my run partner flung her arms backwards. I wondered, “What is she doing?” She heard my foot pattern change, knew something was wrong and was trying to prepare for my falling down the hill. At the same time, I was lifting my right leg ready to plant my foot down, when I felt a strange sense of nothing in my leg. These words raced through my mind “Oh no, this is going to hurt, get into a tuck; maybe it won’t be so bad.”. As my foot landed my leg gave way. I rolled hurting my right wrist and knee. I thought, “There’s no torn skin or blood, probably not that bad. Ohhh, it was so painful.” My friends carried me the kilometer back to the parking lot. It was not an easy trek for any of us.


We stopped at a friend’s place where I waited for my husband to take me to the hospital. I left with a brace that was adjusted to fit my mangled knee, a huge bag of ice and a choice of pain medicine they had on hand. At the hospital, x-rays indicated a broken wrist and fractured tibialis plateau, torn medial and lateral meniscus, damaged posterior cruciate ligament, and swollen ankle. I was going to need surgery but not that day. We headed home with tensor bandage, fabric cast for my leg, hard cast for my wrist, some pretty powerful medication and instructions to call the orthopedic surgeon the next day.


I saw the surgeon on Friday, April 5 for CT scan and MRI in preparation for surgery on April 9th. The surgeon asked what I expected from the surgery and I said, “I wanted to run again.” Three days after my surgery with a plate and 6 screws in my knee, I got out of the fabric cast and into an adjustable brace. Wow! That was fast. My orders were to perform range of motion exercises as much as I could manage but no weight bearing for 8 weeks. That’s a long time for a runner and someone who’s used to moving.


I was lent a wheelchair, crutches and food and plants were dropped off. My husband pushed me everywhere in the wheelchair and caring friends were a great help to me emotionally. But all I could think about was “What could I do to promote my fitness, get moving and run again?” I began reading everything I could on the recovery of athletes who had a fractured tibialis plateau. It was pretty dismal. They lost their sport and many never made a complete recovery.


I’d been training for a trail race and was in the best shape I’d been in for years. Being fit turned out to be of great benefit to my recovery. I needed someone who believed in me and could help with a plan and someone to give me constructive positive feedback. I found a physiotherapist who was ran and after explaining about the accident her first question was “What is your goal?” “I want to run again.” She asked, “Do you have a race in mind?” “Yes” and we were off to a great start. I was going to run again.


From there we made a plan and despite being incredibly tired, fragile, and requiring a lot of rest, I was able to exercise in bed and eventually stand up with no weight on my right leg. It was exhausting work, trying to move without weight bearing. I learned to be very gentle to my body.


While my attitude was to keep on moving, pain and rest were issues. I meditated and learned to visualize my body healing, handle pain and within a very short time I was no longer taking pain medication. However, at night I would wake up and my leg would be aching. Even though I was still in the brace I could go for gentle rides on my bike trainer. Cycling very slowly and easily for 15 minutes or so and then returning to bed with raised leg and ice helped me sleep much better.


On April 26th, almost one month after my accident, I made the leap from bed to alternating wheelchair with “gutter armrest” crutches, which supported my broken wrist. I was thankful I had a number of people who believed in me. My running friends understood where I was coming from and how important it was to me to get back to moving, walking and eventually running. I thrived on their encouragement, positive language, and invitations to get out and meet for coffee, and attend meetings.


I had to use my wheelchair most of the time, but I began to prepare to head up the transition area for our local Cowichan Challenge Triathlon at the end of May. I worked harder every day and began doing squats hanging onto the sink and other upright exercises. By the end of May, I was able to welcome triathlon athletes into the transition area wheelchair by my side. Finally, after 8 weeks, my surgery incision had healed and in June I began to pool run with a float belt that would allow me to keep an upright position similar to running. My doctor said I could begin progressive weight bearing using my crutches, and to tiptoe and heel walk in my wheelchair. I increased the amount of weight I used on my right leg by ¼ each week slowly and carefully. I refused to limp. If I began to limp, I slowed down, or rested in my wheelchair. I was lucky to live in a community that had an outdoor pool. I increased my pool running to 5 days a week for 1 ½ hours a day and began walking more easily. By July, the doctor agreed I could begin walk running.


On September 7, 2019, five months and seven days after my accident, I was able to run The Lake to Lake ½ marathon out of Shawnigan Lake. I completed it in 2 hours 45 minutes! I thought I had made it back. I thought that once I was walking and running again that all would be back to normal. Not in my case. This wasn’t the end of my recovery.


Unbeknownst to me, I had a lot more work to do. I could run on easy trails and in the pool but swimming, yoga and cycling out of doors was still beyond me. Over the next three months, I slowly added more stress onto my knee and finally in December was able to swim freestyle, sit cross-legged in yoga, perform tai chi moves and ride my bike up small hills. I grew stronger each day by going to the gym, strength training and slowly and gently demanding more of my knee and wrist. I ran the Thetis Lake Relay with my club on November 11, 2019. I felt great! Finally, on Sunday December 22, 2019, after 8 months and 22 days, I was able to accompany my friends on a hike and very demanding climb up our local mountain, Mount Prevost, via Bings Creek. In the dark!


In 1978, Dr. George Sheehan wrote in his book, Running and Being that “If you don’t have a challenge, find one.” Well, I found my challenge and each and every day I will be challenging myself to run gentle, cross train and care for myself so that I will be able to run for as long as I can. I will keep moving. I will find another way. I will take small steps forward and smile with every step. Never give up! See you out there, my friends.

Watch Facebook and Instagram (Bill) for pictures and stories. If you have questions or ideas of what you want on this blog, please let me know. The email address is connect(at)ceevacs.com

Smile. Run. Be safe.


SMILE! Photo above courtesy of Lois DeEll – Ellen at the 2019 Comox Valley Half Marathon