Trapline marathon will be milestone for runner
Dawn Christenson of Vancouver Island will have run 10 marathons, in 10 different provinces, in 10 years
Dawn Christenson of Vancouver Island will complete an incredible goal on Oct. 7 when she crosses the finish line in the Trapline Marathon in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
Christenson’s goal: to run 10 marathons, in 10 different provinces, in 10 years.
“I have never been east of Ontario so the other half of my marathon running quest was I get to know Canada ... I didn’t want to spend my vacation dollars in the United States or in Mexico ... There was so much of Canada I wanted to explore,” Christenson said during a recent phone interview.
The other reason for her goal was to get physically active, she said.
Christenson took up running at age 40.
“I found myself about 50 pounds overweight. I had gone from a size six in high school to a size 16. I couldn’t climb up a flight of stairs without running out of breath. I did not love myself at all. My marriage was falling apart and I was miserable.”
She started becoming physically fit slowly, walking at first then increasing the pace until she was running.
“It was truly a stress reliever,” she said.
A self-described average long distance runner, Christenson said she always knew she’d never win or even place in a marathon. However, setting a long-term goal brings with it a sense of accomplishment.
“I want to be running when I’m 80 and 90. I want to be active. I want to be always able to do the things I want to do and not have my body limit me. So, the only way I know to do that is to set goals that keep me active.”
Christenson did her research before deciding which marathon to enter in each province.
Planning each trip has kept her focused on her goal, she said.
She ran her first marathon in Victoria, B.C., in 2008. Since taking up the sport, she’s lost 50 pounds and feels much better — both physically and emotionally.
“I absolutely turned my life around and I credit running with saving my life. When you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall and your life is so miserable and unhappy and then you find something that gives you confidence and such a feeling of wellbeing, it’s a great feeling,” she said.
Setting a marathon goal and doing what you need to do to get ready for the race brings with it a great feeling, she said.
“And when you actually accomplish that goal, the confidence you get from doing that translates into confidence in every other area of your life. You know you can achieve what you want to achieve.”
Christenson has met many friends through running.
“It’s not always fun in the middle of winter in the dark and the rain and the wind to get out there and run. But there’s this accountability when you tell someone you’re going to meet them for a run. You just get out there and do it.”
Christenson said she’d read at one point that running a marathon is 90 per cent mental and 10 per cent physical. She believes that to be true.
“When you’re in the last 10 kilometres of a marathon, your body just wants to lay on the pavement and die. The only thing that gets you that last 10 kilometres is your mind. Because you want to do this and you’re determined to do it.”
This will be Christenson’s first trip to Newfoundland and Labrador. She’s looking forward to the Trapline Marathon in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and has been studying the marathon’s website and learning about the course.
“You can just tell from the website that the people who put this together really care about the event. You can see how proud they are of putting on the event and how supportive they are of everybody who has run it in the past. It really sounds fantastic,” she said.
When asked what’s next after she completes her 10th marathon, in 10 years, in 10 provinces, Christenson hesitates before answering.
She doesn’t set a new goal until she’s accomplished the current one, she said.
What she does know, however, is that she had no plans of reverting to her former life where physical fitness wasn’t part or her day.
“I will always be running until I drop. If I die on a marathon that’s my dream come true. I just want to make sure I cross the finish line first,” Christenson said lightheartedly.
Dawn Christenson nearing the end of a marathon in P.E.I.