The Christensens, long-standing members of Terrace’s athletic community, can’t even go on vacation without running a marathon.
Mike Christensen and son Thomas were on a family vacation in Manitoba earlier this month, where they competed in the Birtie River Run, in Birtle, Manitoba.
The 4th annual event hosted 59 runners, the majority of competitors hailing from Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Except, of course, the Christensens from northern B.C.
“I think Mike and Thomas are the longest travellers to date,” said race organizer Steve Desjardins. “The run is getting more popular and is attracting runners from around Manitoba and Saskatchewan.”
The event had four races, a two-kilometre run, a five-kilometre run, a 10-kilometre run, and a half marathon. The two-kilometre run had six runners, the five-kilometre run had 13 runners, the 15-kilometre run had 19 runners and the half marathon had 21 runners.
Thomas kicked off the day by winning the five-kilometre race with a time of 17:42.
Mike followed suit, running comfortably with last year’s winner for the first 15 kilometres of the event and then taking off in the last portion to win the half marathon with a time of 1:31:40 and match his son’s winning performance.
Thomas, who just returned from competing in the triathlon event at the B.C. Summer Games, was encouraged to enter the race by his triathlon coach Willie Muller.
Thomas placed 10th at the B.C. Summer Games, held earlier this summer in Surrey.
The Manitoba run was Thomas’ first ever running race. He is also a devoted swimmer.
Willie told me to enter him even if he protests, because his running is really coming along, said Mike.
And it’s a good thing he did. “Although he still contends that he wasn’t happy at the time that we entered him. He now concedes that it was okay,” said Mike.
Although Thomas entered the race on a whim, Mike had planned on entering the race for some time as part of this year’s training.
After winning the All Season’s half marathon for the last three years, he decided to start his training earlier this year.
He found the Birtle River Run event on the Manitoba Running Association website and pre-registered, knowing he would be there on vacation at the time.
“I am a little more motivated in my training this year because this may be the last year I am able to beat my son in a race,” he said.
“He already kicks my butt in swimming.”
Thomas also attended a four-day swimming camp with the Manitoba Marlins at the Pan Am Pool in Winnipeg the week after the race.
Late last week, Mike said the pair were getting ready to compete in last weekend’s 10-kilometre King of the Mountain Race.
“Thomas says he doesn’t want to do it,” he said.
“But I’m going with the coaches advice,” he said, and entered him anyway, noting that the life lesson from all of this is: “Listen to your coach.”