Seven students from Caledonia Secondary School’s running team participated in the Hilo International Marathon in Hilo, Hawaii on March 17 over their spring break — with six placing Top 3 in their categories.
“I’m so proud of them, some of these kids initially back in grade seven were run-walking, ” says coach Megan Reid. “They knew that for them that this was their big senior trip, they ran as fast as they could.”
In the ages 16 to 19 category of the half-marathon, Aiden Bremner placed first at 1:52, Michaela Yeo came second at 2:24 and Meghan Bowles came third at 3:19. All half-marathon runners received a plaque at the award ceremony.
For the same age division of the 10 km race, Colby Bowles was first at 1:02, Bethany Brown took second place at 1:06 and Hannah Francoeur finished third at 1:32.
Reid, who also took part in the run, says this is the first international trip their track team has participated in and says it was an experience she wanted to make happen to help encourage the athletes with their training. In previous years, they have held other “fun run” trips throughout different parts of the province.
“We tried to balance the high-level competition in B.C. of provincials, [where] the focus is on pace rather than setting a distance goal or time… [this is to] encourage people to be life-long athletes and running for fun,” says Reid. “We keep something like that in the middle of the year… that keeps the kids running through the winter months so once track season starts, they’re in really good shape.”
The “fun run” wasn’t as easy as they initially thought it would be though. Reid says they were confident they could surpass the race times from previous years, but upon arrival, realized the hilly terrain and climate would prove to be a challenge.
“To go from snow and negative temperatures to 30 degrees and 60 per cent humidity, it was a bit of a shock,” she says. “It was hot, it was hard to finish… it was a difficult run.”
She recalls the best part of the race was running into the ocean after to cool down and being surrounded by turtles swimming in the water, feeling “really satisfied that they set their goals and met them.”
When it came to training over the winter months, Reid says they would run long distances outdoors whenever the weather seemed suitable enough. Students were often meeting at 6:30 a.m. to get their runs in and would also train after school, which they were very dedicated to.
“I think a lot of them find that it helps deal with all the stress of being a teenager, which I think can be pretty difficult… it keeps them mentally healthy as well as physically healthy.”
Three chaperons joined in as well to assist with the trip, which proved to be of great help when one of the students went off track.
“One of the chaperons stayed on the sidelines, just making sure our runners were going the right way,” she says. “What happened was that you run by the finish line at 10 miles and they had pylons indicating that you had to keep going, but a lot of the runners ran by the pylons, turned and came in… Our chaperone saw [the youngest runner of our group] and put him back on course. Otherwise, he would have been disqualified.”
The trip to Hawaii took several months of planning and fundraising, Reid says. The students paid half the cost, while the other part of the sum was raised through different events such as selling raffle tickets, bottle drives and selling wood projects on Facebook. The Skeena Valley Runners Club was also a big supporter by raising money for them through their last two St. Patrick’s Day runs.
Reid says their entire team decided on the Hilo International Marathon as its purpose was to engage runners from the main island of Hawaii to see other parts of their state and was more tourist-focused, which they found to be a good fit with their trip abroad.
“The race was very scenic, it was definitely designed with tourism in mind running through all the parts of Hilo,” she says. “We ran by the ocean, by waterfalls, over bridges and through parks, it was quite lovely.”
Reid adds it was a great trip overall as they made sure to take some time to enjoy Hawaii on their days off.
Since their team has taken a leap across the ocean, Reid says they would like to keep their horizons open and plan another international trip in the coming years.
“I think it continues to encourage this idea that you don’t need to be an elite runner to make running an important part of your life, that you could go to these big destination races where the focus is on your own goals.”
Next, Caledonia’s running team will be racing in the Sub Zero Meet 2019 at the Masich Place Stadium in Prince George on April 27.