Category Archives: Marathon

Doing Stuff Outdoors-108


Two stories on the show today about people on a journey. The first, about a man cycling across Canada to raise awareness about mental illness. The second, about a runner whose goal is to complete a marathon in every US State and every Canadian province and territory. When Gary spoke with them, both were close to reaching their goals.

Carol, Lindsay & Mel Thompson

Carol, Lindsay & Mel Thompson

60-year-old Mel Thompson spent the summer on a 100 day journey across Canada.  Thompson, along with his wife Carol and daughter Lindsay participated in The Ride for Mental Health to raise awareness about mental illness and get people talking about the issues surrounding it.

Although mental illness affects one in five Canadians at some point in their lives, there is still a social stigma attached to mental illness that keeps many people from seeking the help they need. It is the disease that no one likes to talk about, but it has a devastating impact on people who suffer from it, their families and society in general.  The Ride for Mental Health aims to bring the issues of mental illness out in the open, get people to share their own experiences with it, and debunk the myths and misconceptions of mental illness. In addition to raising awareness, The Ride for Mental Health aims to raise $250,000 to support mental health programs across Canada.

Mel Thompson understands first-hand the struggles of dealing with mental illness. His ride is inspired by his daughter Lindsay, who was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder as a teenager. “No one is immune from mental illness and when it hits you, or someone you love, you are never prepared,”says Thompson. “But there is treatment and recovery and that is how our family stays optimistic. Lindsay hopes to one day be able to return to school and work and we hope these dreams will come true.”

Charlie Viers

Charlie Viers

68 year old Charlie Viers from Louisiana loves running, especially in marathons. He’s completed a marathon in every state and has almost bagged a marathon in every province and territory in Canada. Charlie is a member of the 50 States Marathon Club. So what keeps this guy running? That’s what Gary wanted to find out when he spoke with Charlie in our ‘Runners’ segment.

We’ll also check in with Gidzilla in Florida through her Mullberry Bush blog. The music featured in this episode is by Uncle Seth. Please take a few minutes and fill out the Association for Downloadable Media survey and email us with your comments and stories of outdoor adventure at


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Filed under Adventure, Biking, Marathon, Outdoors, Running

Doing Stuff Outdoors-84


img_1585Our feature interview is with Holly Johnson, a busy mother of five who started working out and loosing weight in preparation for a half marathon. This is the second part of her story and the following is a written account that appeared in a local paper:

Tears well up in Holly Johnson’s eyes when she looks at the Donald Duck Medal presented to her by the kids and teachers at Tiny Treasures Learning Centre. It was their version of the medal Holly worked so hard to achieve and so desperately wanted but in the end was just out of her reach. “I can’t put into words what these kids have done,” said Holly fighting back tears. “If they can even take a little of this and realize how important it is to look after yourself and eat healthy and exercise, they’ll be OK and they won’t be where I was and learn at 37 that you have to do something.”

Holly Johnson of Grand Bay-Westfield, a busy mother of five young children, took on the challenge of her life in January. Until a year ago, she never exercised or dealt seriously with the weight issue that has plagued her all her life. That all changed after the birth of her twins when Holly realized she had to do something about her health. She went to Weight-Watchers and started exercising for the first time. She lost over a hundred pounds and decided to join Team Diabetes and enter a half marathon in Disney World. She trained and worked hard raising the $4,500 required to enter the event. Holly and her family went to Florida in January for the race. In the end Holly was 30 seconds behind the cut off time for the first five miles and was forced to pull out of the race. She said Disney officials, rounded them up, put them on the bus and drove them to the finish line. Holly said it was humiliating and people inside the bus were crying.

(I have to wade in here with a comment about this ridiculous Disney policy. I’ve run in a number of half marathons and everyone who can, finishes the race on their own. That’s what it’s about. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. These aren’t elite athletes running in the Boston Marathon. Disney World, of all places, should know better.)

Disney World’s ridiculous rules aside, Holly still feels good about what she accomplished. Together with the rest of her team, they raised a lot of money for diabetes research. Holly’s challenge also touched many people included the teachers and children at Tiny Treasures. Holly’s son attends the school and when they heard what she was doing, they all agreed to raise money for the cause. They collected pennies and coins and some kids made a withdrawal from their piggy bank every time they came to class. In the end, the children and staff presented Holly with an ice cream bucket full of rolled coins totaling almost 211 dollars.
After taking a couple of weeks off, Holly is back into the exercise routine. She’s going a fitness class at the gym and she and her husband are talking about getting bikes in the summer so they can all be active together as a family. Holly says she’s come too far to quit now. She can’t go back to the lifestyle she used to have. Holly says these three and four year old kids at the school are truly an inspiration for her and we can all learn from them.

“This medal is way nicer than anything Disney could provide,” says Holly. “It’s made by teachers and kids and I will treasure it forever.”

Also on the show, more of your emails about outdoor adventures from spear-fishing through the ice to hiking the Grand Canyon and more outdoor book suggestions including an audio book review from Anthony of Anthony’s Audio Journal.

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Filed under Adventure, Marathon, Outdoors, Skiing, Walking

Pole Walking


My wife and I tried some ‘Pole Walking’ the other day and we liked it. You’ve probably seen people doing this before because it’s become very popular. They look a little odd, like cross country skiers without the skis and without any snow. The proper name for this sport and growing fitness trend is Nordic Walking. It began in Finland back in the 1930’s when x-country skiers trained with their ski poles in the summer. Now it’s a huge fitness activity in Europe and it’s spreading throughout the world. And this summer it seems to have exploded around here.

There were quite a few Nordic Walkers at the Canada Day Half Marathon in Grand Bay-Westfield this summer. There were plenty more at Marathon by the Sea where Nordic Walking had a separate category in the event for the first time. But beyond the races people are taking it up just for fun and fitness.

I’ve heard about the benefits of Nordic Walking for some time and I’ve talked to people involved in the sport. Daryl Steeves is an exercise physiologist and Nordic Walking enthusiast. In fact he won in his age category in the Nordic Walking event at Marathon by the Sea. He told me it’s a better overall fitness workout that just walking because you bring your upper body into the workout. You use the poles to propel yourself forward and by doing that you’re toning those upper body muscles and you’re burning more calories. Experts say up to 40% more calories than walking. Daryl says you get the equivalent workout of a jog without all the pounding and best of all, with the poles you don’t feel like you’re working as hard. He calls it four-wheeling for the feet. You can hear an interview with Daryl Steeves and other Nordic Walkers on the podcast Doing Stuff Outdoors-13. Find it at

The queen of Nordic Walking in the Saint John area is Yennah Hurley. She started a club called ‘Walking Proud’ and they go Nordic Walking five nights a week from different locations. You can find out more about the club and she has some great links to other Nordic Walking sites at

After seeing the Nordic Walkers at all these events this summer I wanted to give it a try. I know a lot about ski poles because as an avid x-country, downhill and backcountry skier, I’ve used the things all my life. More recently I’ve taken to using poles when I go hiking. I’ve found them to be a terrific asset on the trail especially if you’re lugging around a heavy backpack. They help propel you on the up hills and even more important, they take a lot of stress off your knees and legs on the down hills. And they’re great for helping you balance, especially over rough terrain and crossing streams. So it only made sense to me that they’d be a terrific asset to walking.

My wife Teresa and I do a lot of walking together and we figured it would be fun to try. We don’t own official Nordic Walking poles but with a basement full of old ski poles I picked out a couple pairs and we headed for the trail. Normally we walk from home but both of us were a little shy about being seen in public walking down the street with a pair of ski poles so we drove to one end of the trail and there, hidden from the street by the trees, we began out experiment with Nordic Walking. Besides the steel tips on the poles wouldn’t have worked very well on the pavement but they were great on the trail.
At first it was strange getting used to them because hiking with poles is somewhat different than using them for fitness walking. But once you get into the rhythm of it you can really propel yourself along with the poles, much the way you do in x-c skiing. There’s no doubt you get a good upper body workout because after the walk we could both feel it in our arms. I really did enjoy it and I think Teresa did too. I liked it better then straight walking. And for skiers it’s great training too for the coming season.

I think we’re on our way to becoming Nordic Walkers. We may even be tempted to pick up a pair of those fancy, adjustable walking poles with the rubber tips for pavement. And I’m sure we’ll eventually get used to those smart comments from passers-by like ‘where’s the snow’ and ‘did you forget your skis’.

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Filed under Adventure, Grand Bay-Westfield, Marathon, Nordic Walking, Outdoors, Walking

Doing Stuff Outdoors-21



On the podcast today Gary recovers from his half marathon run by doing some serious walking with his wife. We’ll hear about their encounter with dogs on the trail. We’ll also hear an inspirational story from a listener in North Carolina who has overcome some physical obstacles in her life to rediscover the outdoors and running. Our feature interview today is with Nick Reese of Canberra, Australia. He’s an outdoor enthusiast from down under who writes a terrific blog called Wild Adventure. He tells Gary about the fantastic skiing season that is just now coming to an end. If you’re a cross country skier who loves the backcountry and telemark skiing, you’ll want to listen.

Also on the show some podsafe music from Denis Kitchen.

Call the comments line with your favorite outdoor adventure story or suggestions for the show at 206-600-4557. You can email us at And if you haven’t done so already please subscribe through iTunes .


Filed under Adventure, Australia, Kayaking, Marathon, Outdoors, Skiing, Telemark, Walking

Run With It


As I write this, it’s the day before Marathon by the Sea. This is the 13th year for the annual marathon in Saint John. I volunteered to help organize the very first one and I ran the half marathon that year. It was my first. Since then I’ve run the half in this event a few times and I’ve completed the full marathon twice. It’s been a few years since I last ran in this race but tomorrow I’ll be tackling the half marathon course one more time.

I made the decision to run in the marathon earlier in the summer. I hadn’t really thought much about it and I didn’t plan to go in any organized race this year. These days my running is limited to regular but relatively short and fairly slow runs, mainly as a way of trying to keep in shape. But since committing to the race I’ve had to focus more on my training and the truth is I haven’t done that well. I’m sure I’ll be able to finish the course but it’ll probably be the slowest half marathon I’ve ever run. I can’t remember what my previous times were and I’m not looking them up because I don’t want to know. This run tomorrow will be just for the sake of doing it. Nothing more.

The last time I participated in this event was a few years ago and I ran the full 26-mile marathon. That was and will probably be my last. It was the year we had a torrential downpour during the race. There had been little rain all summer and it all came that day. Lighting was crashing all over and in some places we were running through several inches of water. It was nasty. I was running with someone who was doing the half and decided if the rain didn’t stop by the turnaround point for the half, I’d cut my run short and continue with him. About a half kilometre before that spot the skies cleared and the sun actually came out. I ran on and as you’d expect the clouds and rain returned. About mile 20 or 21 I hit the famous ‘wall’ big time and was all but spent. I was quickly running out of steam. Ahead of me I saw a man standing by the side of the road. I ran up to him and he asked if I’d like a banana. I took the banana, ate it, walked for a while and then continued the marathon to the end. I’m convinced without that banana I might not have finished. I think of that a lot and would like to thank that mystery man. Maybe he was an angel? I hope I don’t need a banana to help me finish tomorrow.

It’s now the evening of marathon day as I write this and the 13th Annual Marathon by the Sea is history. It was a great race as it always is. Well over a thousand runners, walkers and nordic walkers participated this year. The race started in a typical Saint John fog but the sun quickly burned it off. There were some inspirational runs. A visually impaired woman is celebrating her 65th year by running in half marathons all across Canada. Marathon by the Sea was her second. A group of six high school students joined a program that took them from being non-runners to completing the marathon in 20 weeks. Some even placed in their age classes. And local running legend Alex Coffin won the marathon for a record sixth time.

As for me… well I finished the half without any problems. My time was a little slower than previous races but satisfactory. I’m stiff and sore and tired right now. And this time I didn’t need a banana to finish the race.

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Filed under Adventure, Marathon, New Brunswick, Nordic Walking, Outdoors, Running, Walking

Doing Stuff Outdoors-20



This is the marathon edition of Doing Stuff Outdoors. If you’ve never run a full or half marathon before this podcast will give you a taste of what it’s like. Gary is running the half marathon event at Marathon by the Sea in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. He takes his audio recorder along to capture some of the behind the scenes excitement as competitors wait at the starting line for the race to begin. We’ll meet first time runners, nordic-walkers, even a family running the 10 km event while pushing their baby in a stroller. Gary also records his comments as he runs the 13 mile course and after the race he’ll talk to fellow runners and the winner of the full marathon. It’s someone regular listeners to this podcast will know.

Call the comments line with the story of your best or worst race at 206-600-4557. You can email us at
And if you haven’t done so already please subscribe through iTunes .

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Filed under Adventure, Marathon, Nordic Walking, Outdoors, Running, Walking

Doing Stuff Outdoors-19


On the podcast this week we join Andrew Spender of the UK for an account of his multi-day walk through the English countryside. He traveled a total of 146 miles from his home town of Stratford on Avon to London to raise money for a local hospice. He followed the same historical route dating from the time of Shakespeare, a famous fellow who just happened to live down the street from Andrew, Check out Andrew’s blog Redneps for a terrific account of his journey and for some fabulous photographs.

Also I go shopping for a new pair of running shoes with the help of running guru Alex Coffin. And as the marathon approaches I get a few last minute pointers on how to survive a half marathon.

Next week a special podcast about running the race. I’ll take you with me as I run (or attempt to finish) the 13 mile event. We’ll also talk to other runners and walkers and take in the party that is Marathon by the Sea.

If you have audio comments, suggestions or questions about the show call our new ‘Comments Line’ at 206-600-4557. Tell us about your favorite long walks or runs. You can email us at And if you haven’t done so already please subscribe through iTunes.

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Filed under Adventure, English Countryside, Marathon, Outdoors, Running, Walking