Participants staying healthy at a safe distance in Port Hardy (Submitted by Stephanie Nelson)

Small physically distant running event with big heart held in Port Hardy

Indigenous Run/Walk program went ahead this year, with some downsizing due to COVID-19

A small group of runners completed a physically distant 10-kilometre run recently, in what would normally be a 100-person event.

Port Hardy’s Indigenous Run/Walk clinic hosted the event on June 24, the culmination of a 13-week training program.

The training program was developed with SportMedBC and uses intervals of running and walking, with gradually increasing running time to train a beginner for a 10-kilometer race. Five kilometer races are also part of the program.

Every year the Port Hardy clinic hosts the 13-week program. Clinic leader Stephanie Nelson said in a normal year, they get about 50 participants in the training plan, with another 50 who join for the big run at the end. Then they finish off with a picnic dinner and party in the park.

“The goal is really bringing participants together in a healthy way, with a holistic approach,” Nelson said. The clinic is part of Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity & Recreation Council, known as I-SPARC, and promotes healthy living through walking and running.

Needless to say, things were different this year with social distancing due to COVID-19.

Instead of a group of 50, the clinic had 15 participants of local professionals from North Island Building Blocks, where Nelson is a coordinator, the First Nations Health Authority, First Nations Connection workers from the schools and other support organizations.

“It was more intimate this year, and became a beautiful way to acknowledge these people for the hard work they do for the community, while at the same time supporting them taking care of their own health,” added Nelson.

Nelson co-facilitated this year’s clinic with Dustin Swain, an outreach worker at North Island Building Blocks, and Pauline Johnson who is also an I-SPARC leader at Eagle View Elementary, and can frequently be seen running around town early in the mornings with adults she’s recruited into the running life.

Nelson gave a shout out to Swain for jogging 177 kilometers in June, and completed the 10-kilometer run in just 45 minutes! With luck, next year the runners will be back in full numbers.

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