Move yourself… and improve your health.
That’s one of the key messages of the walking and running program being promoted by two C.E. Barry staff members, Pauline Knapton and Kim Hollmann.
Knapton, the school’s First Nations support worker, got the group going four years ago, under the aboriginal Honour Your Health initiative. It is open to any interested participants.
The first year, there were only nine members but Hollmann — who joined in Year 2 — says, ”It’s been growing exponentially since then. This year, we had 52 members… and we had to cap it at that because we didn’t have any more group leaders.”
The annual Sun Run in Vancouver is a focal point for the group, which started training in January to be ready for the 10K run that takes place in mid-April each year. Fifty-one members took part in the run last Sunday, starting in three groups.
“We have the walking group, the ‘Learn-to-Run’ and the ‘Run Faster groups,” said Hollmann on Monday. “The walkers practice three times a week and they learn to walk 10K without stopping, so they can take part in the Sun Run.
“The Learn-to-Runs basically start out walking. It’s walk two minutes and run one in the beginning, then it builds up to 60 minutes of continuous running.
“Jacob Cowan [a fellow teacher at the school] is in charge of the Run Faster group. They start at the 60-minute mark and work at building their speed, with hill training and fartlek. They run over to Thacker Mountain and run up and down the road.
“All of the Run Fasters finished the Sun Run in under one hour,” added Hollmann.
Team members are expected to practice twice on their own or in small teams each week, then join together on Sunday evening for a group session.
“When we started in January, it was dark by 6:00,” said Hollmann, whose husband Peter and their four sons have also caught the running bug . “We gave people glowsticks, which they put on their wrists or on their hats. Others had flashers and reflectors. It was really something, to see 52 of us going down the road.
“This was the worst weather we’ve trained in — but the people kept turning up. It’s actually fun to get out in the rain with that many people. When it snowed and was too dangerous to run outside, we opened up the school and people ran in the hallways. That got boring, though!”
Another important aspect of the program is family involvement.
“We asked any students who wanted to join, to come with a family member,” explained Hollmann. “At least one parent had to come train — walking or running. That makes it easier to supervise kids at the Sun Run.”
That requirement has ended up bringing many new members to the club, with whole families getting into the action.
“Sarah and [her dad] Jeff Irwin got one hour and a few seconds this year,” said Hollmann. “Jeff was in the walking group last year but he says he loves it in Learn-to-Run.”
Hollmann is in charge of that group and she and her 9 year old son Fraser finished the run in 1 hour, 6 minutes. Kai, 7, had just gotten a cast off his foot and had to walk the route — but still got a time, said Mom. Dawson, aged 12 and Bendix, 14, both went under one hour this year, with Dawson shaving 12 minutes off his last year’s time.
James Irwin posted the best time for the club, at 48:06, while Jacob Cowan was the fastest adult, with a 52:59 finish.
With that run out of the way for the year, Hollmann said many of the group will turn their focus to other runs during the summer.
Many will be taking part in Abbotsford’s “Run For Water” run on Sunday, May 29. There’s a 5 and 10K run, as well as half and full marathons. Peter Hollmann will be running the marathon, his first-ever.
“It’s important to have events to go to, so you’ll have a reason to keep practicing,” says Hollmann.