Like many communities across Canada, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows have always placed great importance in their participation in the annual Terry Fox Marathon of Hope.
While this year’s event will be held virtually, organizers are still hoping to drum up plenty of support for the charity run, which will officially take place on Sunday, September 20.
In previous years, as many as 500 participants have taken part in the run, which raises money for cancer research.
Race coordinator, Eric Muller, has been involved with the event since just after his first child was born.
“This would have been my 24th consecutive Terry Fox run in Maple Ridge,” he said. “I’ve been doing it since my kids were born. My son is 23 and my daughter’s 19 and they’ve never missed a run.”
Muller plans the local route each year, and organizes the volunteers along its course.
Just talking about the race’s namesake gets him choked up, he said.
“I mean, it’s Terry Fox,” Muller exclaimed. “I think it’s so important as runners, and even as humans, to think of why this race is run in the first place, and all the good it does in terms of fundraising for cancer research.”
In 1980, with one leg amputated due to cancer, Terry Fox attempted to run across Canada from East to West.
“I just think it’s so important to remember what he had to go through just to do the Marathon of Hope,” Muller said.
“I ask my kids regularly, ‘Do you understand how difficult it would have been for that young man?’”
Local participants will typically run or walk from Spirit Square in Pitt Meadows to the Hammond Community Centre in Maple Ridge, and back.
Muller said he and his half marathon group will be running the same route on a separate day.
They all plan to wear this year’s Terry Fox Run t-shirts, which are available at Muller’s store, Sole Experience Running, in Pitt Meadows’ Osprey Village.
All proceeds will go towards the Terry Fox Foundation, and no-contact/ curbside pick-up is available.
The race has held great significant for this year’s local ambassador, Lisa Arruda.
When she was 11-years old, she had surgery for Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects white blood cells.
Arruda recalled watching Terry Fox attempt his heroic feat while she was receiving treatment that summer.
“I still remember as a child, the TV was right in front of my bed, and I remember there would be clips of him doing the run, and I was thinking – wow , he’s doing that run for me, and he’s doing it for all the kids in this room –so yeah, it really made a big impact on me.”
She’s 51 now, and has been taking part in the event every since.
“He’s been very inspirational,” Arruda said, “A big part of everyone’s lives in this country, and I’m honoured to play a small part in helping.”
Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Terry Fox Run committee member, Val Huber, said she likes to challenge herself to experience a tiny bit of the hardship Fox went through.
“Three years ago, my husband and I participated in the Mount Terry Fox trek,” she said.
Hikers from far-and-wide met on Mount Terry Fox in Valemont, B.C. and scaled the mountain in honour of the famous runner.
“We planned on doing it again to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the run, but this year it didn’t make sense,” she said.
Instead, the pair used technology to connect with other hikers, and perform a similar feat.
They downloaded the Terry Fox Foundation mobile app, which gives users access to challenges, and allows them chat and connect with like-minded people.
In lieu of climbing Mount Terry Fox, she walked a great distance up the peaks at Golden Ears.
“I started training about three or four months ago, just to get in shape,” she said.
Huber used the app in conjunction with another app called MoveSpring, which measured steps, distance and elevation, so she could make sure her hike was as similar to the one she would have performed on Mount Terry Fox as possible.
“It was absolutely phenomenal,” she said.
Huber is also using the Training with Terry function of the app, which challenges users to complete 200,000 steps in between August 22 and September 20.
“I’m about 50 per cent of the way through that, so I’ve got to pick up my shoes and get going again,” she said.
People can register to walk/ run, or donate at terryfox.ca