Naval of­fi­cer run­ning for a good cause

An­nual Run the Rock be­gins July 23 in Port aux Basques.

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Front page - BY MAR­TINE BLUE mar­tineblue­[email protected]

Mas­ter Cor­po­ral Keya Kelly is ex­cited to par­tic­i­pate in the 23rd an­nual Run the Rock Event for her sec­ond year in a row.

“Meet­ing the wish kids and see­ing the smiles on their faces,” is the high­light of the event for Kelly that makes all the train­ing and all the run­ning worth it.

Kelly spoke with The Gulf News from a port in Dublin, Ire­land.

Her ship, the HCMS St. John’s, will soon be head­ing back to its home port of St. John’s. The Cana­dian navy frigate is com­ing to the tail end of a six-month de­ploy­ment on a NATO train­ing mis­sion called Op­er­a­tion Re­as­sur­ance.

Kelly is part of a 14-mem­ber team run­ning from Port aux Basques to St. John’s, 900 kilo­me­ters, in two weeks, start­ing July 23. The team has been train­ing while on board the ship for the past three months.

“Our phys­i­cal sup­port ad­vi­sor made up a 10-kilo­me­tre train­ing pro­gram and all mem­bers of the team are fol­low­ing that,” Kelly ex­plained. “We have two tread­mills and we run on the top of the ship, where 16 laps of our track equals one kilo­me­tre. We do in­di­vid­ual train­ing and some team train­ing.”

Kelly ad­mits that the crew’s busy work sched­ule makes find­ing time for daily train­ing a chal­lenge, but says the run­ners are man­ag­ing to squeeze their train­ing reg­i­men in too.

The run across the is­land is or­ga­nized as a re­lay.

A team of five run­ners will tackle one leg of the jour­ney each day.

Each run­ner will do a five kilome­ter stretch, then rest in the van un­til the ro­ta­tion cy­cles back for an­other turn. Their av­er­age run­ning speed is about 10 kilo­me­ters an hour.

“Some days are more chal­leng­ing than oth­ers,” Kelly said. “The ship goes into Woody Point, so go­ing through the Na­tional Park of Gros Morne, with all the ter­rain is a chal­lenge, but it’s very beau­ti­ful.”

While part of the team is run­ning, other team mem­bers zip ahead in an­other van to at­tend Le­gions, Lion’s Clubs and other venues and events or­ga­nized by Chil­dren’s Wish Foun­da­tion Chap­ters. Team mem­bers also get to meet Wish Kids along the route as well.

“It’s amaz­ing,” Kelly said. “It’s pretty much what fu­els the team. It’s meet­ing the kids. They are so pre­cious and al­ways have a re­ally great zest for life. And meet­ing them alone is re­ally why we vol­un­teer again.”

An­other re­turn run­ner, Mas­ter Sea­man Frankie Gosse, orig­i­nally from Whit­bourne, N. L. will start the run off in Port Aux Basques on Mon­day, July 23. Gosse and his team­mates have been fundrais­ing on­board the ship, or­ga­niz­ing events such as Chase the Ace. So far HMCS St. John’s has raised enough money to grant one child’s wish.

Since 1995 Run The Rock fundraised close to a mil­lion dol­lars. Last year’s event brought in $110,000, grant­ing 11 wishes and this year’s team mem­bers hope to ex­ceed that amount this year.

Kelly says the event is of such im­por­tance to her team­mates, they are will­ing to sac­ri­fice see­ing their own fam­i­lies for the first two weeks of their leave.

“Our ship is com­ing to the tail end of a six- month overseas de­ploy­ment,” Kelly said. “So we’ve all been away from our fam­i­lies for a pe­riod of time, but the group of 16 peo­ple that were cho­sen to do this run, it’s just as im­por­tant for us to do this run and raise these funds as it is to get home to see our own fam­ily mem­bers. It’s im­por­tant for us to give back to the com­mu­nity.”

Marine At­lantic has agreed to match funds raised by Run The Rock in the Port aux Basques area to a max­i­mum of $3,000.

“When you put the bat­tles the wish kids face against the run­ning we have to do, it re­ally masks over the run­ning and be­comes more of an eas­ier chal­lenge.”

- Run­ner and Mas­ter Cor­po­ral Keya Kelly


The 2017 team at the St. John’s Re­gatta. Keya Kelly is pic­tured in the front.

Wish child Carter with Or­di­nary Sea­man Matthew O’Flynn. O’Flynn is one of the mem­bers of this year’s Run the Rock team set­ting out from Port aux Basques on July 23 for a re­lay run to St. John’s to raise money for the Chil­dren’s Wish Foun­da­tion.

This will be Mas­ter Cor­po­ral Keya Kelly’s sec­ond year run­ning the rock.

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