Pat Blythe: ONERUN

pblythe

I drove a pace car last Friday. A tiny, hot pink pace car….from Sarnia to London, Ontario….at the top speed of 10k/hr. It took 12 hours. I drove this hot pink pace car with my sister as the passenger. …so you see, I’m not the only person in my family that likes to have fun. But my sister, she likes crazy fun….really crazy fun.

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The Pink Pace Car

This is a story about a city who lost power due to “animal contact”, a photographer who got her umbrella stuck in her bra (no….it wasn’t me) and a women who is dedicated to eradicating this world of cancer. This is the story of ONERUN.

JP2 ONERUN 2015 (Official Video)

Sarnia hotel — Friday, June 12, 2015, five friggin’ forty in the morning. My sister already has the light on which is piercing my  one opened eye like a knife right through my brain. Time to get moving. Wash, dry, pack and mad dash to the pink pace car. My sister Chrissie has grabbed a couple of bananas and I’m desperately searching for a coffee (a friend calls this my “breakfast of chimpions”). We drive to the local police station which is the meeting place and the start of the run. Speeches, photo ops and prayers over, Theresa is immediately out on the road with the rest of us racing for our vehicles. ONERUN 2015 has officially begun.

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Crazy Lady Route Monitors – L-R Cheryl Chambers, Chris Romard, Maxine Saunders, Deb Dorman

Now, back to that coffee. A young lady volunteer had collected funds earlier and was making the pilgrimage to the local Tim Horton’s. It’s now 8am, no coffee. 8:30am , still no coffee. The natives are getting restless. By 9:30am, NO COFFEE!!….we’re 2.5 hours into the run and we’re feeling severe caffeine withdrawal and getting no response to our now frantic texts. As part of the entourage and surrounded by emergency vehicles and a police escort, it doesn’t leave much room for us to maneuver out to make a coffee dash. The convey does not stop moving. A text finally comes through….”Tim Horton’s in Sarnia was out of power so that’s why we didn’t get coffee first thing. We’re working on it. Turn on the radio.” A power outage has affected most of central Sarnia and Point Edward. The announcer, (surely fighting to keep from snickering into the mic) says, the cause of the outage this morning at 6:15am is blamed on animal contact.” What the hell is that? Animal contact?! Apparently a squirrel (it just had to be a squirrel) had decided to play tightrope walker on one of the high voltage lines and got the shock of its life. It’s tiny remains discovered not far from where the incident took place. One squirrel and thousands of homes and businesses are without power for several hours. How the little bugger got in there in the first place is being investigated. So because of one curious squirrel….no coffee until kilometre thirty something. When it finally arrived, I just about ate the cup.

Power Play Squirrels

Power Play Squirrels

Paul Armstrong and his thirty-member team from the London Camera Club are the official photographers of ONERUN. They have salted themselves throughout the route as well as positioning themselves at each kilometre mark and important points in between. The green shirts are everywhere! We find them in corn fields, ditches, standing on trucks, popping out from behind posts, kneeling in the mud (it rained quite heavily for a bit)…their lenses are ubiquitous, capturing every moment. I can’t imagine how many shots were taken! As noted, it had rained and did so on and off for part of the run. The plastic bags and umbrellas were rapidly deployed to protect the expensive photographic gear. One lady photographer had decided to prop her umbrella inside her bra, leaving her hands free to manage the camera while remaining shielded from the drizzle.  As we slowed down (from 10k-an-hour) to have our pics taken, I noted the savvy positioning of the umbrella. Her response, “it’s stuck and I can’t get it out.” Don’t ask….

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Photo Op — L-R (unknown woman), Mayor of London Matt Brown, Theresa, and Mayor of Sarnia Mike Bradley

Meanwhile, my sister, who is managing all the route monitors (there is one stationed at each kilometre mark) has been furiously texting on her Blackberry the entire time. It’s a tough job tapping out messages and blowing giant bubbles out the car window. My wonderful sister Chrissie loves a good time and she makes sure those around her are having one too, including her elder sister behind the wheel of the pink pace car. Not only must you have fun, you must also look the part. A flamingo “hat” is promptly placed on my head and around my neck is a sparkly pink lei. My sister has donned a giant pink hat with another pink, shiny lei and giant, dramatic glasses. Dame Edna, is that you? My thoughtful sister has also stashed two sandwiches and a large bag of homemade cookies in the cooler. The cookies become breakfast, the sandwich becomes a snack and when we stop for gas I grab a bag of cheesies. I love cheesies. Ah, health food. Most excellent for the road.

DameEdna

Dame Edna I presume….

Photo courtesy of the London Camera Club

Ahead of us is Theresa’s giant RV, complete with bedroom, massage facilities, loo and snacks. This will be home for Theresa and her team for the next 12 hours. Massage therapist Brad Arndt along with a dietician, Theresa’s husband Bill, ONERUN team members Lore Wainright and Surria Fadel complete the group. This is all supported by a medical response team and escorted by the Command Centre truck of the Sarnia Police. All the policeman who joined us on this journey took turns running with Theresa for the entire 100k. Theresa is out front, leading at a steady pace of approximately 10 kilometres an hour. It’s actually a perfect day for this. Cloudy, a bit cool and rainy. This means Theresa doesn’t suffer the relentless beating of the sun’s rays and hot, humid air….hard to breathe and harder still on the body.

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ONERUN Convergence….we’ve arrived somewhere!

Photo courtesy of the London Camera Club

Along this journey we have passed thousands of people who line the roads to cheer her on. Some waving signs, running up to the convoy and donating what they can. They all take time out of their busy days to stand there in the pouring rain…farmers, factory workers, gas station attendants, store workers….cars coming in the other direction pull over and line up at the side of the road, waving and honking their horns. People all dressed up in bright pink with assorted costumes waving and cheering. Local fire departments pull their engines out of the stations, turn on the alarms and wave her past. Even horses (and last year an entire herd of cattle) ran alongside us against the fence from one end of the field to the other.  Hundreds of school children yell and scream her name, waving their signs, running up to Theresa with little notes, cards and hugs. She stops for every one of them. It’s simply amazing to be a part of this journey. ….and everyone is having fun! The feelings are indescribable.

A Series of Photos of roadside supporters out to cheer….

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ONERUN Route Map

Theresa’s Route

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Everyone had a message

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Tutu ladies and more route supporters

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Pause for the massage. We were actually at the 60k mark.

Taiyo Cruz – Dynamite

Theresa Carriere was 43-years-old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a double radical mastectomy. That was in 2007. Two years later, over a cup of coffee with friends, she broached the subject of “doing something” to contribute to the fight against breast cancer. How about a 100 kilometre run to raise $10,000? Further discussion ensued and the ONERUN team was formed. It would be centred around one woman, running 100k, in one day, one time only.  It took a year to develop and plan and in 2010 Theresa ran the first ONERUN marathon, cheered on by thousands of people who lined the route. It was so successful, Theresa has run three subsequent marathons, this year being her last. It has taken a team of devoted, enthusiastic and committed people to organize and one very special woman to do all the heavy lifting.

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Theresa just minutes before hitting the highway

The ONERUN finale was a little different this year. Although Theresa ran the entire route, she shared each kilometre with another runner. The theme of ONERUN is “Running for your someone” and each runner who joined Theresa was doing just that, running for their father, mother, sister, aunt, teacher, uncle….running for their someone. It has gone beyond breast cancer. Each of these runners donated $1,000 dollars for their kilometre. This year ONERUN raised $165,000 for cancer research. There are still more events so they are not finished yet. The goal…..$200,000. All the funds raised go directly to where they are deemed necessary by the ONERUN team including a tumor bank, a research team and education.

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….and none of this would happen without the volunteers….

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Our lunchtime supplier (yuuuuuuummmmmy gourmet sandwiches) Thank you Elaine Sawyer!

Now…

Brooke Wants You To Dance!

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The Finish Line, John Paul II Secondary School, London, Ontario  — Theresa (in black) is flanked by two daughters one her right, a third daughter, her son and husband Bill on her left.

The journey continues. You can find out more about ONERUN, look at all the pics (there will be hundreds), or donate, at onerun.ca.

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Melissa Etheridge – I Run For Life

Cheers,

All pics except the squirrels and those noted were taken by Pat Blythe.

Sources

onerun.ca; my participation in the journey; YouTube

=PB=

Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

dbawis-buttonIn “real” life Pat Blythe has spent the past 32 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry. After an extended absence Pat is now heading back to the GTA clubs, immersing herself in the local music scene, tasting what’s on offer, talking to people and writing once again — sharing her passions and her deep love of music. Together for 34 years, Pat also worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who shot much  of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda Little Red-headed dancing girland the Imps, Plateau, Buzzsaw, Hellfield….) as well as national and international acts,  Currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, Pat is currently compiling a photographic history of the local GTA music scene from 1975 to 1985. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance!

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