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When: Oct 21, 2017                Where: Sir Wilfred Laurier Park, Edmonton, AB

Kathy’s is a very special race for me. In 2013, a co-worker of mine said, “You run. You should do Kathy’s”. Now I had been running to get exercise and stay in shape, but I had never been to a race before. Kathy’s Run was started by co-workers of mine in honour of Kathy McCollum, who many of us worked with. In 2011, Kathy lost her battle with Pancreatic Cancer. So, I decided to sign up for the Half Marathon. Having never run more than 10km on my own, I started running more and further. I still didn’t really know what I was doing that first race. I ran out of energy, did not carry any water or gels, and did not Band-Aid my nipples (ouch). I ran the half again in 2014 and 2015, but took last year off because we were in Vancouver. Well, this year I was back!

The weather was a lot warmer this year than past years and the great family atmosphere has never changed. There are always a lot of emotions at this event. Many people are running in honour of those that they have lost. This race is the largest fundraiser for Pancreatic Cancer in western Canada and raises nearly $100,000 each year.

The event offers a 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon distance; all supported with water stations and enthusiastic volunteers. I ran my first Half here in 2013, my wife ran her first 5K here in 2015, and this year, 2017, my oldest daughter ran her first 10K. There is plenty of parking at the Edmonton Valley Zoo right beside the park. We picked up our packages race morning and this year we got purple buffs instead of shirts. There were port potties and a heated tent to stand in while we waited. After announcements, we were ready to start.

I lined up for the half marathon, my 19th, got my music ready and hand on my watch, they counted down and we were off. This race would be different for me than the past 18 half marathons that I had done. In the past I was always looking to give every ounce of energy that I had. To finish the race with my tank on empty and know that I went as fast as I could. This time, I am using this race as a practice run for my first full marathon next month. Trying to maintain my marathon pace and finish with plenty of energy to spare.

As always, I forgot just how many hills were in the first 5k of the half course. The course starts toward the Whitemud bridge, up the switchbacks, and then across the bridge to the south side of the river. We then head along the paved paths by the river toward downtown. Past Hawrelak Park and Emily Murphy Park. It was right around the 8km mark that I found my wife and daughter who were doing the 10K. I said hello, snapped their picture and ran on by.

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The course makes it all the way over to the LRT bridge and then crosses to the north side again before turning back. It is an out and back course but the half way is around 13k and then the course diverts toward the finish so that you don’t have to do the hills again that were at the beginning. This isn’t a fast course, but it is nice that it gets easier toward the end.

I did well to stick to my planned pace. I did step up a lot on the down hills (I cant help myself) and a few times I decided to follow someone for awhile that was on a nice pace, until I remembered that I was supposed to be taking it easy. I hit the 19k mark and was feeling great. I felt that I had met my goal and decided to finish strong. I passed a few more photographers toward the finish (did I mention that I love races that provide FREE professional race photos) and then all out sprinted when I saw the finish line in sight and was presented with my medal.

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I smiled for another picture, grabbed a free hot dog and water (they also had fruit and muffins) and went to find my wife and daughter to congratulate them on their finish. We all had a great day. I am sure that we will be back many times in the future. Hope to see you there next year! Great course, great cause, great medals, and big smiles. What more could you ask for in a Saturday!