The Firth Sisters

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Quest:

TransRockies Quest 888 (Quest #8)

  • 6 months (May to October 2013)

  • 9 trail running, mountain biking, road running and road biking events

  • Target: 888 race kilometres

  • Completed to date: 8 events, 772 race kilometres

  • Next up: TransRockies Moab Rocks Oct. 12 to 14th

In early January this year, I received an email from the NWT Recreation and Parks Association. They wanted to know if I would like to do a keynote presentation at their September Conference, in Fort Smith. The theme was "Playing It Safe vs. Taking Risks" and they wanted to hear how this applied to the Quests I had undertaken, as fundraisers, for Right To Play.

I told them that it would be a pleasure and early morning on Wednesday September 25th, I boarded the first of my three flights. The final flight from Yellowknife to Fort Smith was in a twenty-seater, prop plane. In flight entertainment was at a minimum but I did find an interesting article in the local News / North newspaper.

The title was "My running is my truth" and it was about a fellow called Brad Firth. Brad had spent twenty years battling addictions but the turning point came when he saw a poster for the 2005 BMO Vancouver Marathon. Not only did he run it but he came in 743rd out of 5,000 athletes. Shortly before the article I was reading was published, Brad, whose running name is "Caribou Legs", had just finished an incredible ultra-run. He left Fort Smith on September 4th, ran 740kms and arrived in Yellowknife on September 14th. Brad stated that "Running and sobriety have a lot of the same things, there's commitment, desire and discipline".

Arriving in Fort Smith I was met by Lauren and we went directly to the NWT Recreation and Parks Awards night. The highlight of the evening was a presentation by spoken word artist, Shane Koyczan. Shane had performed at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. He is an incredibly powerful performer and he held the group of sixty transfixed with a rendition of "To This Day". An animated version of this poem on bullying has had over 10 million views on YouTube.

The next morning, I had an early appointment at a "Trailblazing Walk". It was scheduled to start at 7.00am and at 7.10am three of us were heading toward the Slave River. Amanda and Sharon were down from Yellowknife and when Sharon told me her last name was Firth I was blown away.  I had read a lot about Sharon and her twin sister Shirley. Both sisters were the product of a pioneering program, in the mid to late 60's, to introduce skiing to Canada's Aboriginal peoples (First Nations and Inuit).  Her career was an outstanding testimony to the dedication displayed by her, in achieving a level of excellence very rarely attained by any athlete in this country.

Sharon and Shirley were members of Canada's national cross-country team for an unprecedented seventeen consecutive years, competing on the World Cup circuit.  Between them, they won 79 medals at a variety of racing distances at the National Championships and competed in four Winter Olympic Games, in 1972 at Sapporo, Japan, in 1976 at Innsbruck, Austria, in 1980 at Lake Placid, New York, USA, and in 1984 at Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. Shirley had passed away earlier this year from cancer. Then I asked if Brad Firth, "Caribou Legs", was a relative and she said he was her brother.

The keynote went well and that afternoon, as I left Fort Smith, I could only wonder at the experiences I had had and incredible people I had met during my 24 hours in Fort Smith, NWT.

Quote of the Day

"My running is my triuth"

Brad Firth

Going for an early motning walk with Olympian Sharon Firth in Fort Smith, NWT.

Sharon Firth

 

Read More

Dreams and Wishes

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Quest:

TransRockies Quest 888 (Quest #8)

  • 6 months (May to October 2013)

  • 9 trail running, mountain biking, road running and road biking events

  • Target: 888 race kilometres

  • Completed to date: 8 events, 772 race kilometres

  • Next up: TransRockies Moab Rocks Oct. 12 to 14th

On Saturday October 5th, the Annual Monumental Tournament of Aces was held at the Links of GlenEagles, in Cochrane. Kelly and Diane Kimmett, their family and friends have held this event for the last six years in memory of their daughter, Lindsay who tragically passed away in 2008.

Lindsay was training to become a doctor and had a great love of sports. Over the years funds raised from this event have gone to help numerous causes, including the Cochrane Arts Foundation proposed Performing Arts Centre, The LINDSAY Virtual Human Project at the University of Calgary School of Medicine and "Lindsay's Kids", a group of 17 children who will have their registration fees and equipment sponsored.

The weather for the golf was clear but cool and everyone was pleased to get back to the club house for the evening program. After a great meal Kelly welcomed the guests and explained that this year the money would go to the expansion of the community project at Mitford Ponds. This had been kick started with the $25,000 Cochrane won as part of the TSN Kraft Celebration Tour in 2012.

Next, he introduced Leesha Mafuru from Boma La Mama. Leesha is a midwife from Cochrane. She has spent a number of years in Tanzania and, with her husband Lawrence, have set up a foundation to build a birthing centre in Mto wa Mbu, Lawence's home village. Last year's golf tournament provided funds to start this venture and Leesha was there to give an update. The town of Mto wa Mbu had asked that the foundation also build a one-room school. This has been completed and The Lindsay Kimmett Academy will soon be taking in its first Kindergarten students.

Following Leesha was Reid Kimmett to talk about the Kimmett Cup / Hockey Quest 500 event held in January this year. This event raised $400,000 for Right To Play and will allow 8,000 children to have a Right To Play program for one year. Hockey Quest 500 was my 6th Quest in my "Quests for Kids" initiative and was an attempt to set a first ever Guinness World Record for the most players in an exhibition game of hockey.

Guinness required a huge amount of documentation, in order to verify the record and this was sent to London, UK, some months ago. Reid then made the big announcement. Cochrane had achieved the record and are officially World Record holders. In total 374 players participated in the attempt, many of them boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 12. They can now apply for their certificate and Canada Post will be busy handling all the envelopes coming into Cochrane.

Jason Baserman, who along with Reid and Joe MacLellan, was an organizer of the record attempt then spoke about the plans for the 2014 Kimmett Cup. The charity they've selected is the Children's Wish Foundation and they want to grant 10 wishes to kids who have terminal diseases.

I know what my wish for them would be.

Quote of the Day

"I went to a hockey game and it turned into a Guinness World Record"

Marathon Martin

It's Official. 374 players from Cochrane and area hold the GWR for the largest game of exhibition hockey ever played. Well done everyone.

GWR Hockey

 

Read More

TransRockies Quest 888 Completed

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Quest:

Rotary Coastal Quest 630 (Quest #9)

  • Run 630 miles (1014 kms) around the SW coast on England

  • March 4th to April 1st 2014, averaging a marathon a day.

  • Attemping to raise 100,000 pounds for Right To Play

  • Check out: Rotary Coastal Quest 630

At 11.05am on Monday October 14th, I was sitting on a sandstone ledge, enjoying the desert views on Getaway Trail, just outside of Moab, Utah. I had just completed 18 kms on Stage three of the TransRockies Moab Rocks mountain bike race. More significantly, I had hit the 888 kms target I had set for Quest #8, TransRockies Quest 888.

The nine TransRockies events had taken place over six months, from May to October and had encompassed twenty-one race days. The events had included one road running, four trail running, two road biking and two mountain biking races. The mountain biking races had proven to be the most challenging. I had completed the four day TransRockies Challenge in August and knew that Moab Rocks would be no walk in the park.

When Stage One kicked off on the previous Saturday morning, I still had 116 kms to cover. The race started in town and headed out on a road parallel to the Colorado River. Soon we were on a desert trail heading out into the wilderness. The major challenge of the day was "Jacob's Ladder", a 500 feet near vertical "Hike-a-Bike' between two canyon walls. I love my 12 year old Gary Fisher Suger Plus 4, but it weights a ton. I completed Stage One in just under 5 hours. However, I took a wrong turn, shortening the course by 3 kms, and was given a one hour penalty

Stage Two was along Porcupine Rim. My guide book says "The single-track is famous for riding that challenges even elite riders. Cocky riders often take soil samples home along with a serving of crow pie". This stage was 53kms and a good portion of it was along a ridge with a 1,000' drop on one side. I was not cocky. I did not want to fall off the edge or take home soil samples so I rode where I could and walked where I could not.

The Stage Three start was 10 miles to the north of Moab. At 8.58am the familiar notes of ACDC's "Highway to Hell" kicked into to gear and we were off. Two hours later I had reached the magical 18 km mark and I reflected on Quest #8. Aaron and the rest of the gang at TransRockies have been totally supportive and cheered me on at each race. I continued on my way and by the end of the stage I had completed 920 kms for all the TransRockies events I had competed in.

The number one objective of TransRockies Quest 888 was to help kids. So far, $35,000 has been raised for Right To Play, which would give 800 children a RTP program for one year. However, with the matching funds of $3 for every $1 donated it will actually be helping 3,200 kids.

In the "Quests for Kids" initiative, Quest #8 is finished. Now it's time to look forward to Quest #9 in March 2014, when I'll be leaving the desert for the sea.

Quote of the Day

"Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great"

Anon

This is "Jacobs Ladder" just outside Moab, Utah. It's steep and rocky. There was no ladder.

Jacobs Ladder

 

Read More

RTP National Inspirational Speaker Series

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Quest:

Rotary Coastal Quest 630 (Quest #9)

  • Run 630 miles (1014 kms) around the SW coast on England

  • March 4th to April 1st 2014, averaging a marathon a day.

  • Attemping to raise 100,000 pounds for Right To Play

  • Check out: Rotary Coastal Quest 630

The Right To Play National Inspirational Speakers Series kicked off on September 30th. Thanks to generous support from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD), RTP is offering free educational and inspirational presentations in schools, across Canada, throughout the month of October. This series will span 24 days, collaborating with more than 30 School Boards, reaching 330 schools and over 100,000 students.

The focus of the presentations is two-fold. Firstly, to expose RTP Athlete Ambassadors and their life-changing stories to students, in the hope that they will be inspired to get active, set goals and follow their dreams. Secondly to have RTP representatives share stories of hope from children and youth in Western and francophone Africa.

I've been an Honorary Athlete Ambassador since 2011 and I was thrilled to be asked to go to Prince Edward Island to speak at 10 schools. On Sunday October 20th I arrived at Charlottetown airport and was met by Matt Appleby. Matt is a RTP representative and we would be together for the week. Matt had been on the road since the beginning of October and this would be his fourth week of presentations. As our guide on the island, we were fortunate to have Basil Favaro, a Professor at the Faculty of Education, at the University of PEI. I have never met a more passionate educator.

As we visited school after school, Basil would introduce us to teachers he had taught. The schools were mostly in Charlottetown and we had a couple of country schools as well. The group size ranged from 50 to 450 and grades 3 to 9. We had an hour to present and Matt had the students up and down playing games and learning about children from around the world. I spoke about my marathons and Guinness World Records, hoping to inspire them to pursue their goals and engage in an active lifestyle. I asked them for ideas for my 10th Quest. Responses included running the Great Wall of China, swimming around PEI and climbing up Mount Everest then skiing down. My favourite was running a marathon on the moon.

On the Friday morning I went to Sherwood Elementary. There I met up with Tyler Heggie, whom I had met two years ago at the PEI marathon. He was nine years old at the time and running his first marathon. He is now eleven and had recently run the Waterfront Marathon, in Toronto, completing the race in an amazing 4 hours and 1 minute. Last summer he ran PEI tip to tip in seven days. The reason he did it was to raise money for multiple sclerosis. I brought Tyler up to the front of the assembly and explained to the students that it was not what Tyler done but why.

He is a great kid and a fine example of the Right To Play motto, "Look after yourself, look after one another."

Quote of the Day

"Experience is not what happens to you. Experience is what you do with what happens to you."

Aldous Huxley

Tyler Heggie recieves a copy of MARATHON QUEST. Tyler, aged 11, ran 280km from one side of PEI to the other in seven days. He did it for Multipal Sclerosis. Good lad.

Tyler

 

Read More