Trapline marathon will be mile­stone for run­ner

Dawn Chris­ten­son of Van­cou­ver Is­land will have run 10 marathons, in 10 dif­fer­ent prov­inces, in 10 years

The Labradorian - - SPORTS - BY DANETTE DOO­LEY

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.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF GREG PARNHAM

Dawn Chris­ten­son near­ing the end of a marathon in P.E.I.

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