Force of nature
Marathon runners beat the elements

Glen Vienneau
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 30/00) - Twas pretty sure the wind was blowing me back two steps for every step I was going forward," said Tim Laity.

Laity was describing the extreme winds and rain that hit during Sunday's Yellowknife half marathon, held to raise money for Yellowknife Women's Centre.

"It is the most brutal weather that I ever run in," admitted pace runner Bernie Hughes of Yellowknife.

But the lousy weather didn't hold back the 125 participants, who joined together for what would become Yellowknife's biggest Marathon and Half Marathon yet, said co-ordinator Terry Chang.

"This isn't the weather we ordered, but it takes more than the weather to dampen the spirits of runners," Chang said during the event.

Some runners, like Sharon Cormier, the poor weather simply dampened her feet, not her spirits.

"You had to kind of dodge the puddles," said Cormier.

Except for a few knee injuries, the runners survived the endeavour in relative safety, noted volunteer Adrian Bell.

"Bernie Hughes came in with some blue dye on his fingers, I think from gel, and it scared us. We thought he had hypothermia."

Along with experienced runners this year's race attracted first-time runners.

"I was by myself, but I followed this guy the whole way and he kind of paced me. I don't know if he knew that or not," said Heather Redshaw of Yellowknife.

Moral support came in the form of cheering bystanders as well as runners supporting each other during the race.

"If you can support a runner that you're passing by, you do it because you know what it's like running all alone," said Penkala.

"You get a little lonely, so you start talking a little bit," admitted Danny Senn, Newberry, South Carolina, U.S.

Another American runner was Al Becken, 71, of San Antonio, Texas. This race marks Becken's 228th marathon, leaving him with Newfoundland and Nunavut to complete his goal of running in marathons across Canada.