Countdown to Marathon By The Sea

********* 2017 The Running Whys – Paulette Stoddard

Running Whys Paulette

by Kevin Barrett

Paulette Stoddard is a Saint John native who started to run in 2009, one of many important facets that helped in transforming her life.

She continues to live on the West Side of the city and has been happily married to her husband Jim since 1999. Professionally, she is the Purchasing and Security Manager with WorkSafeNB.

The Emera Marathon By The Sea is an extremely special race for her because it was her first event, her first full Marathon and the key run in which her late father always came to support her. She ran it in 2016 in his honor even though she was still working through some injuries. Her time was not her best but she calls it her best race of the year.

Running had developed into a critical component of life for Paulette, who says she gets emotional during distance races because, as she works through the pain and fatigue of ‘the Wall’, she reminds herself how fortunate she is to be able to run and how she is doing something she never thought would be possible.

“I also think of all those people who, through health issues, lack of fitness or obesity would love to be able to run and push through greater pain and difficulty each day. These people would likely give anything to run and it would be a travesty for me to not appreciate what my body is allowing me to do,” she explains. “While my body may have battle scars and is not physiologically perfect, it is healthy and I can run so I need to celebrate that and do it.”

Paulette credits a fantastic running, cycling and triathlon community in New Brunswick for her personal progress. “I am a member of several groups and try to train with those groups and friends where and when possible. There is a new running group call the Rockwood Road Warriors, which I was fortunately allowed to join, they train Tuesday and Thursday. On Sundays, I try to join the KV Road Runners for my long runs, when my schedule allows.

“I also belong to Fundy Extreme Triathlon club. The running and multi sport community is very strong and supportive in Saint John and we have great coaches and training events. Alex Coffin, Dean Strowbridge, Brenda Guitard, Daryl Steeves and Garth Millar have been instrumental mentors and coaches.  My favorite routes are the Irving Nature Park, Rockwood Park and routes in Grand Bay-Westfield – where I work.

She says running makes her feel free and provides so much mental and physical clarity. “I hate treadmills, so being outside and running in fresh air with friends is the best elixir. There is nothing better than a solo soul affirming run or a run with friends where great conversations and humorous antics abide.  Running is physical, mental and spiritual therapy.

“Anyone who thinks that they can’t run – can. People who maintain that runners must be crazy are very wrong. What is crazy is to not run.”

This year, she will run the Emera Marathon By The Sea half marathon after adjusting her routine because of injuries.

“My bucket list goal is to qualify and run the Boston Marathon,” she says. “My best marathon time was a sub 4 hour and I am confident that with hard work and a strong healthy body, I can do better and achieve that ultimate goal.”

This serves as a preview of the main purpose of this story- why Paulette runs. What follows is an inspirational account of her journey and how far she has come.

The Running Whys with Paulette Stoddard

As a child, and into adulthood, I was always morbidly obese, my highest weight being over 300 lbs. I was caught in the yo-yo diet cycle where I would go on a structured diet and exercise regiment to lose weight but the weight loss would be short term and quickly bounce back and then some.

It was a never-ending trap I could not escape and the more I tried, the weight kept piling on. I felt like my body was rebelling against me. People would say “don’t eat”, “have some self control”. Fact was we all need to eat to live, so it is not like another person with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Our whole society and culture is based on food and you cannot escape it. Not eating would just put my body into starvation mode and I could not sustain that.

I always loved nature and enjoyed walking alone in non-public areas where I did not have to encounter any public ridicule about my weight. I genuinely tried to be active where my weight allowed. Eventually, inspired by family members, I joined our local curling club and started to curl and continue to curl today. Curling was a great sport to be involved in as an overweight person because it was very social and the physical activity in a ladies club league offered short intervals of intensity for someone so unfit.

It helped to build my confidence and curb my insecurities and shame in being so overweight. I always felt like I was trapped and was on the outside looking in. I lived vicariously through others. I saw friends being active and partaking in all the activities I wanted to but my body would not allow.

Running was something I never even considered, cycling maybe, but running was totally not something I ever thought I could do. My fitness level was so poor that even simple daily activity was difficult so the thought of actually running was not even on my radar.  At this stage in my life, even walking for any duration was a huge athletic accomplishment for me. I could not even imagine trying to run – walking was exhausting.

I now say that my mouth got me into my predicament and it also was the catalyst to get me out. In 2009, I had orthognathic jaw surgery and my jaw was wired shut and unable to eat solid food for a long time. I subsequently lost weight but knew that once I would be able to eat, my weight would likely bounce back and then some again. I had a catharsis during the healing process and decided that I would use this situation as a means to change my life permanently and break this cycle for good but knew I needed exercise.

Fortunately, at the same time, my close friend, Dr. Anne Murphy, joined the Running Room and was actively running with coach Brenda Guitard. Each morning, Anne also trained with a group of ladies at our local Irving Nature Park. Anne encouraged me to join them in the early mornings when no other people would be there and it would be the perfect setting to get active and run.

I laughed this off because again, the idea of ever running was not even something I would ever consider. I had the pre-conceived notion that runners were these elite sport alien creatures from another planet and not in my stratosphere. They were beautiful, happy and perfect people and I was always destined to be a wanna-be, plump plodder who would never fit into their world.

At this stage, I still found walking a strenuous activity so running was out of the question. I did go though and the running girls would run and I would walk and then we would eventually meet up.  My supportive husband, Jim, would join me walking each morning and over time my endurance improved and my weight kept dropping, my body was slowly getting more toned and my energy level was improving.  Eventually walking was getting boring and too easy.

I recognized that I needed to push myself more, so I would chose a focal point like a certain tree and run to it and then walk again and gradually added more running intervals. Quickly, I was able to run for a sustained duration and distance and I will never forget the morning running girls told me that I was now going to join them regularly and run the park.

For someone who was never chosen for sports teams or activities in school, being invited to join a group in physical activity was the most exciting thing ever. It ended up being the best thing to happen to me. It pushed me in so many ways to gain confidence and appreciation for what I was blessed with instead of focusing on what my challenges were.  I did not want my weight and low self confidence about it to be a self fulfilling prophecy any longer.

I was buried mentally and physically by my weight all my life and through friendship and running I was able to shed more than weight but gain a level of confidence I never thought possible. I also came to learn that my bias and assumptions about all those other perfect, beautiful running people were very wrong.

Instead of being elitist snobs, they ended up being the most inspiring and motivating group of friends I could ever ask for. I also quickly learned that we had much in common. They were just people like me and shared the same insecurities and challenges in life and they loved to run for the same reasons I did. They never judged me for my weight or ability and instead welcomed me.

This was infectious and I was spurred on to run more and I eventually ran my first 10K race at Marathon by the Sea.


********* 2017 The Running Whys – Erin Whitman

Erin Whitman print


by Kevin Barrett

Erin Whitman, who graduated from NBCC in Saint John, started running at 34 years old and now had three marathons to her credit, including the Ottawa Marathon earlier his year. Here is her running story.

“My mom is confined to a wheelchair and cannot walk or even stand up, so I was running for both of us. And when the going got tough, I would remember why and who I was running for.”

Tell us a bit of your background, your family. Where are you from, what do you do for a living?

I’m an only child and grew up in Minto with my parents, Ralph and Nancy Barton. After graduation, I went to NBCC in Saint John for the Medical Laboratory Technology program. I got married to James, who I met at NBCC, and we live in Maugerville with our two young children. I’ve been working at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton for 16 years as a Lab technologist.

When did you start to run?

I was always in to sports growing up, but never in to running. I actually didn’t start until 2012 when I was 34.

Most importantly, why did you start to run?

My husband was my initial inspiration to give running a try. He was a runner before I was. He convinced me to try a 5k race at the Fall Classic in Fredericton in 2012. After the Fredericton run, I swore I would never do it again – I loathed every second of it haha.  In 2014, a few months after my second child was born, I decided to give running another try. I really don’t know why or what made me get out there that first time  – maybe it was so I could have an hour to myself.  I instantly fell in love with the sport. I ran my first half marathon that fall and my first marathon the following spring.

Many people have goal for a particular year – what were/are your big goals for 2017 and beyond.

My big goal for 2017 was to run my 3rd marathon. I ran the Ottawa Marathon on May 28th. I had a time goal in mind but I really just wanted to do better than the last time, and I did so I was happy. I guess that’s what I work towards with every race I participate in, just to do a wee bit better than the last time, even if it’s just by mere seconds! I’d like to work on my half marathon training next. And beyond??? I *might* be participating in my first triathlon soon…the heart is ready but I’m not sure the training is. I haven’t officially signed up yet, but I’m at 95%. And I also have hallucinations of doing an ultra haha…maybe someday!!

What is your most memorable run? Maybe there are two or three? Is there a dramatic finish, result or cause you have run for?

I’ve had a few memorable runs, but two really stand out. The first is a 5k fun run I did with my dad two years ago. He was 64 and ran his first 5k run. It was awesome being able to run next to him and cheer him on. The second has to be the Ottawa race. Through their affiliate, Scotiabank, you can raise money for various charities, so I chose the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. My mom was diagnosed with MS in her 20’s and over the years I’ve participated in many fundraising events, but this one by far was the most meaningful. My mom is confined to a wheelchair and cannot walk or even stand up, so I was running for both of us.

And when the going got tough, I would remember why and who I was running for. I had been having some knee issues so I had taped up my knee with KT tape, and I wrote all of my sponsors on it.  I would look down and see the names and it gave me strength to keep going. The last 2.2km took FOREVER lol. At the 400m sign, I got really emotional, thinking about my mom and how, if she could, she would definitely be out there cheering me on.

Do you have regular training partners, a regular training route?

I used to always run alone. I didn’t really know anyone in the local running community and was kind of shy about meeting new people…because…you know…I’m not a “real runner” lol. At least that’s what I used to think. A couple of years ago, I came across a Facebook group for New Brunswick female runners. I joined and sat back and read all the posts and didn’t really say to much.

Then one day, I finally got over my shyness and spoke to a few girls that I ” knew” from the Facebook group. I started running a bit with them and my love for the sport grew. I got to know one girl quite well and became good friends, but she moved back to SJ.

I really missed our chats and laughs together. She pulled me through my first half marathon and had this uncanny ability to talk me into doing races haha.  I decided I should take a chance and sign up for a Running Room clinic and meet even more people. Through the clinic, I have made many new friends, but there’s always that one person that is just the right “fit” for you.

Its hard to believe in just a short time that we have shared so many miles, stories, laughs, crappy runs and even a few tears in just a short time. We’ve trained together and ran marathons together. Cheers to Flat Nat (Natalie Neville)…she definitely got me through the winter marathon training….couldn’t have done it without her!

What do you like most about running?

It’s funny because there are still times that I absolutely hate running…usually this is when I’m having a bad run (like everyone does at some point!), but these thoughts quickly pass. I like how it makes me feel strong, how it clears my head after a long day. I’m a much better parent after I run haha. I like how it shows my kids that it’s good to be active. I love the running community…it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are…everyone is welcomed with open arms. Annnnd….I also like to eat…I run so I can eat all of the foods. 😉

Do you have any other thoughts about running you would like to share?

I never dreamed I would run a marathon…now I have three medals hanging on my bedroom wall. Running isn’t just a physical activity, a big part of it is mental as well. Convince yourself that it can be done and be prepared to be amazed at what your body can do…whether it’s 1km or 42km, everything is a personal victory.

******** 2017 The Running Whys – Brittany Merrifield


by Kevin Barrett

For Brittany Merrifield, the Emera Marathon By The Sea is more than a race, more than logging of kilometres in training.

For the Saint Johner who left the city for more than a decade before returning to the land that she loves, MBTS represents much more than all that.

“This race means family, means comeback, means running isn’t over for me because I did have a lot of moments when I felt running was over for me and I decided not to let that be the case,” Brittany says. “It means community and friends. It means all of those things.”

Merrifield, well known in the city for her outstanding photography, started running seven years ago when she lived in Chicago, looking to compete her first 42.2 km race – The Chicago Marathon. As part of her training that year, she ran the half marathon at Marathon By The Sea, her first ever race and she’s been a regular every year but one since then. Next month, despite dealing with a hip injury, she plans on tackling the 10-plus kilometre event on Aug. 13.

Britt 8“I am the poster child for ‘anyone can do this’,” Brittany says. “I am a single mom with four kids and I am not genetically blessed to be a runner or particularly amazing. It proves that MBTS is such an accessible event. I can do it with all the barriers I have, so anyone can do this.

“All the years I lived away, I always came home for a month with the kids and we always had a connection with Saint John, the ocean and all of that. It means a lot to be able to run with my family and to be able to do it here. “

Running was never a big part of Britany’s life but in 2010, after discussions with friends, she decided to register for a marathon to celebrate turning 40 years old. Daunting as the Chicago Marathon may have seemed, it was a perfect setting to get back into shape after the birth of her fourth child.

“Running is like therapy,” she said. “Being a single mother of four kids, who is running her own business, you need something to do for yourself. When you go out for a run, it is like therapy.

“It allows you to process a lot of the thoughts that are going on in your head. You will start out all stressed out, you are busy and by the end of the run, you have processed some of that stuff and you are some much better.”

As she advanced, she says her kids would encourage her to get out – in unique fashion.

“My kids (now 15, 13, 11 and 9) will say, ‘Mom, you are crabby, you should go for a run.’ I’ll say, ‘that is so diplomatic!’”

Given her responsibilities, she would run on her own in the beginning– but it was part of a family jaunt to the area park, so she was never truly alone.

“Because I had all these little kids. I would put my two youngest in a jogging stroller and the two oldest would be on their bikes. I have pictures of the stroller with 10 water bottles lined up.

“We would run to the park, so having a destination meant they would not complain too much. It started out being anywhere from 5 to 8 km.”

There were looped trails in the neighbourhood she lived, so she could add manageable distances when she felt it was time to tackle more.

“I noticed the benefits right away and it was something we could do all together. We still run together.”

Other times, she took to the treadmill, which isn’t for everyone. Brittany loved it because of the flexibility it provided. “It was freedom,” she explains. “I could put the kids in front of TV, especially in winter when I could not take them out and I could have my therapy.’

Brittany moved to Saint John when she was in Grade 4, eventually graduated Saint John High School, studied at McGill University and then finished her degree at UNB Saint John. After that, she lived in the United States, including stops in suburban Dallas, Houston and of course, Chicago.

“I am really happy to be back here in Saint John, because I can’t imagine a better place to raise the kids,” she said.

Since her first running steps, she’s competed the Chicago Marathon once and the New York Marathon twice, all distinctive events for various reasons.

“They are all pretty memorable,” she explains. “Chicago, because it was my first; New York in 2014 was memorable because I crossed my finish line with my friend Jocelynn (Cook). It took us a really long time because she had a significant knee injury and we were out there until it was dark but we crossed the finish line together. We had this amazing bonding experience.

“The second time in New York was probably the roughest one I ever had in my entire life (she was injured midway through) but I did not stop because I did not want my family and friends who were there to ever see me give up. I finished and of all of them, it may have been the most meaningful because it proved to me that I can do hard things.”

She credits the influence of Jocelynn Cook of Ottawa and Mark Clinton of Saint John for inspiration. “I get him out and he makes me work harder,” she says of running with Mark. “It is the perfect combo.”

It all leads to the upcoming Marathon By The Sea, which takes Brittany back to the place of her first ever race – MBTS in 2010.

“I had never suited up with a bib before in my life,” she recalls. “We were training (for Chicago) and MBTS was right around the time when we had to do a 20 or 23 km run anyway. I decided to give it a try and ran with one of my friends Jill.

“I remember finishing and thinking ‘Oh My God, I am going to have to do that twice.’ It was fun but I was panicking at that same time. We then ran Chicago – which was really hot, 100 degrees during some parts of the race. It was challenging, fun and amazing to actually finish a marathon, which is a life goal for a lot of people. It certainly was for me.”

Britt 1Britt 6

The Emera Marathon By the Sea weekend in August 11-13 in Saint John. You can register here.

…….. The Running Whys – Johanne Thériault


by Kevin Barrett

As Johanne Thériault details her busy running schedule, whether it be training on the road near her home in Nigadoo or outlining her plans to race in Berlin, Chicago and Saint John this year, the question usually turns to her motivations.

That’s where the 34-year-old city solicitor for the City of Bathurst can get emotional.

“It’s always a question I like to brush off, because the answer is pretty personal,” says Johanne. “It’s something that is still hard to even say out loud.”

As Father’s Day approaches, many thoughts this weekend are with family. For Johanne, it’s a tough time as she thinks of her dad – Fernand – who died in January of 2016 after a 13-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

In the days and weeks after his passing, it was suggested she try some form of physical activity to assist during the extremely difficult grieving period. It was then she discovered running, which has provided her with many gifts, including therapy and some peace of mind.

14333577_10154703433728029_8036785271002679892_n“My doctor, instead of prescribing me something not to “worry so much” or to help me to sleep, told me to find something to meditate myself, to ease my soul,” she said. “When I decided to start running, it completely changed my life. Devoting so much time to running gave me alone time to think about everything.”

Johanne now has a collection of half marathons on her running resume – events in Fredericton, Moncton, Edmundston and Miramichi and last August, she completed her first 42.2 km race at the Emera Marathon By The Sea.

She wonders what she would have done without that physical outlet to channel her father’s death.

Johanne remembers vividly that Boxing Day in 2014 when she got the news something was wrong. Fernand woke up that morning with a stomach pain and decided to go get it checked, because he thought he had a flu bug or something reasonably minor.

Instead, the diagnosis was stunning – Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He was given several months to live, if he was lucky.
“I can literally replay this day in my head like it was yesterday,” she said. “I knew from that day, that nothing will ever be the same.”

At the time, she was a newly-separated, single mom of two little girls, working as a Crown Prosecutor. She also bought a new home. Life was so busy.

Fernand even paid her a house-warming visit when he was well enough.

She admits feeling guilty in that she was caring for her girls, working a demanding job but desperately wanting to give even more time to support her ailing Dad.
“The day my dad visited, he arrived as a very skinny old man with no hair,” she explained. “That was one of the hardest days for sure. During that visit, he sat in my living room watching the Baie-des-Chaleurs and he promised me to come back.

“He never came back.”

She treasures his influence on her life as well as the impact he had on others. She recalls once in hospital when a male nurse visited her father and said, “Thank you, Mr. Thériault for saving my life.”

“He explained that my father, a social worker, had taken care of him as a teenager and had found him the ideal foster family.”
After Fernand’s funeral services ended and the tough weeks that followed had passed, Johanne embraced the notion of running more to help her state of mind. She trained hard, gained confidence and eventually registered for her half marathon in Fredericton in May of 2016.

MSAC0855-20x30“Right away, I came home (from Fredericton) to sign up for my first marathon,” she explained. “That summer, I ran a lot of races around the province. I was completely hooked. Running was the cure-all to everything. I did my first full marathon in Saint John that same summer.”

She’s also competed in half marathons in Edmundston and Moncton as well as other events in varying distances around the province.

View MBTS results from 2016

“I take a lot of pride in the fact that I can now deal with hard things completely by myself, without anyone’s help,” she says. “I never looked back after my first run. My days now are built around how many miles I want to run that day. I have the best running buddies ever, to share my love of running. I was completely lost, until I found myself out on the trails. I’m a true believer of everything happens for a reason.”

This year at MBTS, Johanne will run the Port of City Challenge – the Into the Night 5km, on Friday, Aug 11, the Middleton and Associates Harbour Passage 5 km on Saturday, Aug. 12 and the Emera Marathon By the Sea on Sunday, Aug. 13. It is another weekend on a busy slate of events that will also include events in the RunNB SuperSeries as well as participation in the Berlin Marathon in September and the Chicago Marathon in October.

Those larger races are part of her plan to run each of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors before she turning 40. At 34, she will be off to a great start if she is successful in 2017.
And it a good bet that she will share the memory of Fernand in every one of them.

Dianna Payne – Running Whys

Dianna Payne

by Kevin Barrett

It’s been 10 years since Dianna Payne found running.

It’s a relationship still going strong – one she gives credit to many factors, including her participation in her first race – the 2007 Emera Marathon By The Sea.
But for Dianna, her love for running goes beyond the fitness benefits she gains. It is about her social network, which plays a critical role in how the sport has grown into such an important part of her life.

“It was fun and I was meeting new people,” she said of her first steps. “I find with how things have gone, I can’t give it up because then, I am not going to see the friends I made. That probably sounds silly but in my mind, it works. If I want to see my friends, I have to keep running.”

Since beginning in 2007, she has raced in every MBTS, other than 2012, and while training can be tough, she’s always enjoyed the race itself.

“Even during the race, the people you get to talk to from all over the place, it is quite amazing. It does not matter what you do for a living – it is just, ‘hey, how are doing?’ It is interesting and fun.”

Please read previous Running Whys stories on Brian and Katie Molloy and Blair Bass.

Dianna, born and raised in Saint John, works as a security officer at Irving Pulp & Paper. Her initial running motivation came as she wanted to get in shape when she was thinking about applying to become an RCMP officer, knowing she needed to prepare for the tough fitness tests.
She learned about training sessions at the GoodLife Gym’s location at the Rothesay Ave Superstore, signed up for a learn-to-run clinic, and got going with a one-minute run, one-minute walk program.

While she changed her mind on her career path, she never stopped running and today, she’s surprised and pleased with her decade of progress.
“I just try to go out and have fun and try to get some exercise in at the same time,” she said. “It was hard to run but it was an activity that became a bit easier for me.
“Even 10 years later, I find it hard to believe I can talk and run at the same time.”

Register for this year’s Marathon By The Sea

20170406_233305In 2011, she travelled with Brenda Guitard, Sherri Colvill-McCavour and Marta Kelly to complete a half marathon at Disneyland in California and then the next year, she was part of a New Brunswick group that raced the Bermuda Triangle Challenge. Dianna ran a full marathon and several other shorter races.
At Disneyland, she decided to mark the occasion with a special Canada shirt she bought at the Running Room.
“There was a guy in the same corral as me, who turns out was from B.C., and was wearing the exact same shirt,” she said. “A girl behind us wanted to know if she could take a picture of us, thinking we were together…we had no idea who each other was. Looking back, it was neat to have that Canadian connection.”

View MBTS results from 2016

In August, Dianna is planning to compete in the Port City Challenge for MBTS, running the Into the Night 5km on Friday, the Middleton and Associates Harbour Passage 5 km on Saturday and the Running Room half marathon on Sunday.
Last year, she ran the 5/5/10 and the previous year, she competed the 5/5/half components.
“Marathon By The Sea is my go-to race,” she said. “Ten years ago, I stared running in June and did my first 10km that September at Marathon By The Sea. It is the one race I have to go in.”

It’s been a busy year already.FB_IMG_1492291722239

She ran the 10-kilometre distance at the Hypothermic half marathon, the Fredericton Half Marathon, the 5 km and the full events at the Blue Nose Marathon in Halifax and the half in Sussex’s Across Town for Crosswinds event.

This weekend, she is headed to the Dartmouth 5k Sole Sisters Saturday and then will ride the bike as part of a team in the Hampton Ladies Triathlon Sunday. After that, she will race the half marathon as the Bay of Fundy International Marathon in Campobello and compete in the Tely 10 in Newfoundland before running in Saint John.

“It keeps me occupied,” said Dianna with a laugh. “What I like most about running are the friends that I made along the way. They keep me going and it opened up a whole world to try different things like triathlons and destination travel.”

______The Running Whys – Brian and Katie Molloy


by Kevin Barrett

The Running Molloys.

It’s a name that takes some time to get accustomed to, especially for a Saint John couple participating in this year’s Emera Marathon By The Sea.
But Brian and Katie Molloy have bonded while training, enjoyed the benefits from their efforts and even have their two children involved in 5-kilometre runs to prepare for this year’s event.
It is worth considering it was just a few years ago when Katie, a physical education teacher at Valley Christian Academy, took up the sport and was joined shortly thereafter by Brian, the pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church.

“I struggle with depression and running was a great antidepressant for me,” said Katie, who grew up in Quispamsis. “It helps to clear my mind and refocus. Because of this, I wanted to make it permanent part of my life.

Brian 1“Running is a great way for our family to spend time together, outside, getting exercise. It is important to Brian and I that our kids see a good example prioritizing health and fitness.”
Brian, a native of New York who has spent the past 15 years in New Brunswick, was a runner when he was younger but it stopped as he developed his career and started a family. However, when Katie got into it again, it was a signal to reignite his engine.

“I first started running in college as a means to lose weight and become healthier,” he explained. “After college, I stopped running because of the busy-ness of life. When Katie started running over the last few years, I decided to get back into it for us to spend more time together and for me to get back into better physical shape.”

See preview Running Whys story on Blair Bass.

Now married for 10 years, Brian and Katie are taking part in the Into the Night 5 km to kick off race weekend in August with their children, soon to nine-year-old Jackson and seven-year-old Sophie,
“I love that we do it as a family,” Katie said.

While she started running more consistently two years ago, she began competing in races last year, in part because she was organizing a 5-km event for her school’s physical education program.
“I figured that I should participate in one of these events first before I planned my own,” she said. “So Brian and I ran our first race in the Brent Kelly Memorial 5-Miler. I was hooked.”

For Brian, the physical benefits are important but like Katie, the mental clarity he gains during and after a run hits home, given his role at the church.
“General physical health is usually the main motivating factor for the ‘why’ I run,” he said. “That being said, the reason I continue to run, even if I meet my physical goals, is because of the mental health is gives me. Running allows me to clear my mind and not give into the stresses of my job. Running allows me to rest and sleep better which in turn allows my mind to be sharper.
“Running also allows me to enjoy simple goodness. Much of my job entails understanding and explaining God in an information sort of way. Running confronts me with the reality of a body that functions, air that smells good, scenery that is pleasant to look at and a mind that keeps pushing when it would be easier to quit. Running allows me to enjoy the goodness of this world, it allows me to enjoy God in a more practical way.”

Register for this year’s race.

The Molloys were among the first to sign up for this year’s Marathon By The Sea and will compete in the Port City Challenge – the Into the Night 5km Friday, Aug 11, the Harbour Passage 5km Saturday, Aug. 12 and the half marathon on Sunday, Aug. 13.
That 21.1 km distance once seemed so daunting for Katie, she’s wasn’t sure she’d be able to accomplish her goal. Getting out regularly has changed her thinking.

“When I started running, the idea of running a half marathon seem impossible to me,” she said. “However, I encourage my students to challenge themselves and I thought, ‘what kind of teacher would I be if I didn’t do the same?’ And so, after doing last summer’s Into the Night 5K for the Marathon by the Sea, Brian and I decided that this summer, we would do the Port City Challenge.

Brian 6“Our kids, will be joining us for the night run. They have each ran two 5k races as well as two virtual 5ks and regular running with Brian and I.”
Katie is not motivated by speed comparisons to others.

“I am not fast. I don’t run to win, but to do my best. I always tell my students that they are not competing against each other but themselves.”
Brian jokes that his main fitness goal is to remain alive after Marathon By The Sea ends but ultimately, wants to remain committed to running, long after race day ends.
“I find it easy to get out of the rhythm, and I would like running to remain an aspect of my personal life along with me family,” he said.

View results from 2016.

Several runs stick out for both Katie and Brian.

For Katie, it was toughing it out through the heat at last year’s Canada Day 10 km event in Grand Bay-Westfield.
“It was super-hot and it was my longest run up to that point,” she recalls. “It was memorable because I almost quit after the first 5k lap. I was exhausted, but at the last minute, I told Brian that I wanted to keep going.”

There was another for her as well – the recent Valley Christian Academy’s 2nd Annual Fun Run 5K.
“I was the race director and Brian had a foot injury, so for the first time, we weren’t running with (Jackson and Sophie). I was so excited when they both came in with a personal best at 38 and 39 minutes.”

Brian enjoy that run as well in addition to that 2016 Brent Kelly 5-Miler, “as it was my first ‘real’ run that I took part in.”

Another was the 2016 Outflow’s Run for Shelter because it was the first run they did as a family.

Undoubtedly, a series of highlights will occur Aug 11-13 at Marathon By The Sea.

2017 The Running Whys – Blair Bass

Blair print

by Kevin Barrett

For many runners, training takes place in the dark, the early morning hours before sunrise, the calm before the day’s responsibilities kick into gear.

With others, running is powerful therapy in an escape from an internal darkness, a forum to invigorate their soul, a setting to flee from life’s challenges or a mental home in which to find important solutions.

Blair Bass, a 32-year-old Saint John native, credits running for allowing him to deal with his own mental health issues and in many ways, has assisted a personal growth that’s led him to lose 60 pounds, go under 23 minutes in a 5-Km race and post a strong result in his first marathon.

There are more important areas though.

It’s been over a decade since he’s faced the darkest of days, when he contemplated suicide. He’s recovered – a credit to loving support from his family, education he gained en route to a pair of degrees and the works of many authors, who have enlightened and inspired him. He salutes the efforts of anyone who brings mental health issues into the forefront, including Olympian Clara Hughes and the Bell Let’s Talk campaign.

As we kick off the 2017 Running Whys for this year’s Emera Marathon By The Sea, Blair explains the long road to his own transformation and the treasured reasons why MBTS holds such a special place in his heart.

He was always a runner (his grandfather was a national class miler) but he restarted in earnest with three laps at the indoor track at the YMCA in March of 2016. He progressed quickly and last summer, took on the challenge of the Into the Night run at MBTS, recording a remarkable time of 22:35 for 5-kilometres.
He’s kept going and as lifelong asthma concerns lessened, he increased his training distances and times, recently clocking a 3:32:47 result at the Fredericton Marathon several weeks ago – a major bucket list item.

“The therapeutic nature is what appeals to me for my regular running,” he said. “My naturally competitive nature (that is, with myself, constant self-improvement) lends to the racing aspect. I love lowering my personal bests. Crossing those finish lines and seeing an unexpected time is a terrific feeling. The accomplishment is the offshoot of the therapy.”

The 2017 Marathon By The Sea marks a special one year anniversary for Blair, who will run Into the Night 5K, the Harbour Passage 5k and the Quarter Marathon events on race weekend this Aug. 11-13.

What follows is his open account of why those events are important to him. It’ a powerful and honest assessment of where he’s come from and where he is going.

We hope you enjoy Blair’s account.

As part of a series Running Whys, I was given eight interview questions. The focal point and most important question was just that: why do I run? To answer this question, I decided to get a little bit in depth. I have never been comfortable addressing my mental health issues in an open forum. I am offering a small insight into my thoughts on mental health issues, how I deal with them and dealing with the stigma attached.

Cure her of that.
Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?
Therein the patient
Must minister to himself.
Throw physic to the dogs; I’ll none of it.

I am a 32-year-old male. I am a university graduate and generally productive member of society. Always a bit on the quiet side (at first), I am generally not one to open up about anything. Honestly, in addressing this topic of mental illness, however, I feel there are benefits. I have struggled with mental health issues for the last 14 years of my life. I quote this Shakespearean passage above to echo a familiarity with my situation: the acceptance of state of my mind, that perhaps only I can truly understand and address the healing of it, and, finally, that I have decided almost entirely that medication is not the route in which I want to address it.

And thus, I answer the question at hand. This is why I run. It is my therapy.

I started running for health reasons—mental and physical. While a university student in Fredericton, I suffered a considerable setback in life. An underlying mental health issue had crept unto me and was eventually devastatingly exploited by my-then, unwavering curiosity about exploration of the mind and modes of consciousness.
Functionality had become a problem. I moved home to my fully supportive parents and regrouped. I was lucky to have them at my side for over a year while I figured out how to get things back on track. I did. With the help of many, I got back to school and started my life again.

Almost a decade later, I had decided that the cocktail of medication I was on had been a crutch long enough. Coming off was not easy. To cope, I found running to be my primary therapy. Hand in hand with mental health is taking care of my physical health.

After coming home and addressing my mental-health issues, a combination of reduced exercise, non-mindful eating and medication side effects caused me to put on a good amount of weight. I am currently down about 60 pounds from my heaviest (including a period of about four months when I started running, where I lost over half of that chunk).

I wasn’t sure where to fit this in but I want to make one thing clear – I am not on a crusade against pharmaceutical medication. It is simply not for me. I leaned on it, but for far too long. It robbed me of my personality as the quintessential “me” had disappeared.

Not everyone can do this.

I am not completely un-medicated. I do not advise that this is what everyone should do. This is simply my story. My struggle is continuous but manageable.
I run to both escape and face demons. It’s incredibly freeing in one sense. When I want to get lost in music and forget about life for a bit, I run. It can incredibly introspective in another sense. I use running as a time to contemplate and address my mental issues.

There’s something about the act that allows me approach my mental health from a perspective that sedentary practices cannot provide. An allowance is made in which I can find myself at once the observer and the observed. Not always, but I do get insights into the workings of my thoughts, mental processes and the consequential effects in my day-to-day life.
It is difficult to broach the subject of mental health.

I hate labels so I will not mention any diagnosis or suspected conditions as per medical terms. I do not want to be labeled. I do not look for sympathy but simply an understanding that people do go through this. If I tried to put into words the mental states I have gone through, it would be impossible to ask most people to look at me without the natural prejudices of that ingrained stigmatization.

I have a few special people in my life who are able to do that but, ultimately and unfortunately, I do not talk in a completely open forum about what I went through and go through.
There is this stigma about being mentally unwell. But I’ve become okay with it.
My mental processes are inherently different. I just look at other people and think, as the great mixed martial artist Conor McGregor says, “they don’t t’ink like I t’ink.”
I get my bad days. They include the reminders of perhaps why I once, as a 20-year-old, seriously considered ending my life. I have been there. With a plan.

I was convinced that I was a hindrance. In the moment, as I tried to weigh the options in my few moments of clarity (they were few and far between at that time, hence my hopelessness), I saw it as pure selflessness. Suicide: less a burden to the world; less a burden to myself; self-sacrifice for the better of all.
Before I got to that point, I asked for help. Even in my clearest moments, I realized I was not thinking coherently. Thankfully I got that help. But I got to that point where I can understand the concept of suicide.

The reminders of what set off this hellish odyssey are still there. My consciousness-driven curiosities are not satisfied. I read and study these ideas a lot. Perhaps not as much anymore, but the works of Huxley, Leary, Ram Dass, McKenna, Ginsberg (I could go on) still fascinate me. I’ve tried meditation. I have no intention of using drugs anymore.

I say I’ve tried meditation; any type of this of-mind exploration tends to set me off. So I read to address this curiosity and, to borrow from David Byrne, I accept who I am and where I am, that this (whatever it may be) is my reality: with my “feet on the ground, head in the sky…I guess that this must be the place.”

And I run.

I applaud the work of Clara Hughes and campaigns like Bell’s Let’s Talk; I am happy that the stigma is being addressed. It has not been lifted. It never will be. Each year that it passes, I think of sharing my story in some way but always decide not to. When I was asked about this doing this article, I wanted to share and this is merely skimming the surface. A small insight into my condition and how I use running as an effective means to address it.

The Runners Whys – 2017 Preview

Marathonby Kevin Barrett
Running Whys – 2017 Preview
What started as a salute to the 20th running of Marathon By The Sea has continued on and now, as runners intensify training for the 2017 Emera Marathon By The Sea, we are ready to kick off our fourth year of the Running Whys.
This series is a collection of stories from runners of all walks of life, all motivated to participate along with hundreds of others in the Port City’s annual marathon in August.
Like the race weekend itself, we have undergone some changes but the focal point remains on you, the runner, whose dedication to training for whatever distance, provides inspiration for many in the buildup to MBTS.
In the first three seasons, we’ve featured runners who took their first racing strides in this event, beginning with 5 km routes. We have also profiled those who clock times under three hours for the full marathon. And we’ve featured everyone in between. The diversity in motivation ranges from those trying to maintain fitness levels to those wanting to get into shape and others looking to hit a goal in celebration of a significant birthday.
Along the way, these poignant and raw accounts provide a glimpse at what motivates runners and what the sports means to many who were brave to take that very first stride – whether it was last week or 50 years ago.
Each motivation, each story, provides unique perspective for Marathon By The Sea participants.
This year, the lineup is equally as impressive.
The 2017 series will start later this week and be featured on the MBTS website and Facebook pages. It will continue with regular updates right up to the race weekend and conclude with recaps of those athletes we featured along the way in a final season-ending story.
While we are just beginning and we have many profiles all set to go, please pass on the names of other participants (to who you think have a great story that others in this great race may enjoy.
We hope you like what we have to offer.
Good luck in training.

The Running Whys – MBTS 2016 in Review

By Kevin Barrett

One runner lost 70 pounds. Another dropped more than 45.

Several used the sport to deal with the stress of difficult family situations.

Two others detailed their reasons for volunteering at Marathon By The Sea.

And one extremely special woman encouraged us to Never, Never, Never Give Up. Demonstrating determination and a strong will allow you to accomplish anything.

Those were just some of the stories associated with the 2016 edition of the Marathon ByThe Sea’s Running Whys.

They will venture from near – Saint John – and far – Australia – and many points in between.

And once again this year, generous souls have opened their hearts to what motivates them and led them to this weekend’s races – whether it is a 5 km run/walk, a full marathon on Sunday or as part of the novel and exciting Port City Challenge.


Here are links to the stories we ran this year:


Virginia Joudrey, Bill Joudry, Natalie Davidson, Terry Thorne, Jeremy Brown, Cheryl Donovan, Joe Comeau, Mike Doyle, Charlotte Flewelling, AndréeGermain, Sue Teakles, Brenda Guitard and Paul Sands.


These stories were a hit on social media, once again leading to large scale interest by friends, family and those generally interested in running.

Here are some of the comments.

“I couldn’t be more proud of my amazing friend. She is the true definition of an adventurer who is always looking for new fun!”

“Terry’s words ring out loud and clear! They do what physical strength does not allow her to do. They come along side of those who want to give up and give in for far lesser reasons. They offer strength to those who need courage to go perhaps just “one more turn around”. Terry’s beauty shines in her smile and the twinkle in her eyes.”

“You are awesome, totally totally awesome and so inspirational.. thanks for sharing your story with everyone.”

“Well that made me cry. Strength in so many ways. Thank you for sharing your story!”

“Nice story! Running is life changing for sure!”

“Very proud of my sister-in-law Sue Teakles for all of her running accomplishments over the past couple years, keep it up and have a great run at this year’s Marathon by the Sea!!”

“I consider myself very lucky that you taught the run clinic at work Brenda. Very! Thanks for your support and encouragement along the way.”

“That’s Awesome!”

“Proud to call Paul a friend. Quite an inspirational guy!”

“Congrats. I remember seeing you Dad run by our house a lot when I was a kid….. Wait a minute that was 30 years ago.”

“That is just awesome Joe. Well done.”

“Beautiful story of inspiration and determination!”

“Great interview, Mike!”

“Congrats this is an amazing journey and accomplishment. You have made a total life transformation and we are super proud of you. Keep up the great work.”

Those were some of the many comments.

The final story was on Friday, and ended fittingly when Virginia Joudrey said:

“Everyone has a passion and running is mine. I want everyone to believe that no matter what age you are and no matter what goal you have, those goals are all worth aiming for.  I hope my story resonates with fellow runners and encourages anyone considering running to take that first step. It will change your life! It changed mine! Happy Running!”

Good luck to all this weekend.

2016 The Running Whys – Virginia Joudrey

Virginia (Arbo) Joudrey was born and raised in the north end of Saint John, in a home on Sandy Point Road. She grew up, got married, started a family and moved away but always has kept a special spot for Saint John in her heart.

This weekend, she’ll be back, as she has in the past, to take part in the Emera Marathon By The Sea.

Here is a look at her motivation for running, how the sport has transformed her life as well as coming home for the big race weekend.



by Kevin Barrett

I now live in Mount Uniacke, Nova Scotia with my amazing husband Ed and together we have three wonderful children and three beautiful grandchildren – with another on the way in November. I work for the best company – Hearing Institute Atlantic – as a client service manager in the Bedford Clinic. Not everyone can say they enjoy going to work, but I do (Best Girls Around).

I have always tried to be active and I found myself wanting and needing something that I didn’t find boring and that could be stress reliever. At the time I started running, I had alot going on and things were very stressful. Have you ever heard the term running is cheaper than therapy? I’ve learned that it’s not just a saying.  My running has helped me in so many ways, mentally and physically.

I was introduced to running by my friend Arlene Brinston.  At the time, I didn’t think I could run 20 minutes and that if I started, I would end up crawling home. She encouraged me to start training and I found within myself that I was more than up for the challenge.

So off we went. We started with walking to a telephone pole, then running to the next telephone pole. That was six years ago and since then, I have completed three full marathons – one was the Johnny Miles Marathon in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Marathon No. 2 took place in Prince Edward Island and another was the 50k Ultra at the Valley Harvest Marathon in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. I have completed countless 10k races including Marathon by the Sea, when I took part in the Port City Challenge.

I run with The Lakeshore Runners/Walkers and this is more than a running group to me as I consider each member family. I have been very lucky when it comes to running partners with this group, because no matter what you run, you can always find someone to support and encourage you. I have trained with some great people like Randy Faulkner, Anita Conrad and Stephanie Jones.

Virginia 1Running is my passion. I love it. Running takes me to places in my head that I have never been. It is something that I consider a great accomplishment at each finish line. Growing up, I never believed much in myself, never really thought I was worthy of much, even after years of seeing a therapist. Running has changed all of that for me. I’m a much stronger person, I believe more in myself and I can actually say I like myself, which took a lot of hard work and perseverance.

Everyone has a passion and running is mine. I want everyone to believe that no matter what age you are and no matter what goal you have, those goals are all worth aiming for.  I hope my story resonates with fellow runners and encourages anyone considering running to take that first step. It will change your life! It changed mine! Happy Running!