Photo: Inge Johnson

I wasn’t an athletic child. I shied away from team sports and even gym class. As an adult I hiked, walked long distances with my dog, cycled and worked out at the gym to stay healthy. Then in 2013, I started running. My sister had done so and enjoyed it. I thought I’d give it a try and now I never need motivation to get out the door to run. It’s not a chore on my to-do list, it’s just an activity I want to do. Running became the first athletic activity I was truly passionate about.

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I can say that running brings me health, confidence, joy and pride. I can also say that it has changed every part of my life: physical, emotional and social.

Last fall, my friend Jean-Paul Bédard created #JPsTeam and announced his plans to run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon four times in a row in support of survivors of sexual violence. This inspired me to show my support by designing logos for his race and for #JPsTeam. Heading to the race this year, it was an easy choice for me to further support him and the two charities he is running 168.8 kilometres for: Little Warriors and The Gatehouse.

Canadian Running: What would you say are your defining characteristics as a runner?

Cathy Vandergeest: New-ish runner. Masters runner. Track workout fan. Cheerleader. Social media runner. Mostly lone runner. Coached runner. Matchy-matchy runner. Never-marathoner. Toronto runner. Run ambassador. Run-addicted.

CR: What do you admire most in a runner?

CV: Dedication, passion and focus.

CR: What is your idea of happiness?

CV: A race where pushing the limits feels manageable and sustainable and brings me across the finish line capturing a PB. To be surrounded by family and friends who are there to celebrate with me would top it off.

CR: Who are your athletic heroes?

CV: I greatly admire Catherine Watkins, Jen St. Jean, Laurie Wisotsky and Michelle Clarke who firmly believe that you can run #FasterAsAMaster.

CR: Other than where you are now, where would you like to live?

CV: Vancouver. While visiting family a couple years ago, I had the opportunity to start each day with a glorious run on the Sunshine Coast. A race that includes the Seawall will definitely happen one day.

CR: What is your greatest running-related regret?

CV: I often wonder what would’ve happened if I’d started running as a child.

CR: What is your greatest fear?

CV: Losing my passion for, or ability to run.

CR: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

CV: To not compare my running skills or results to others. To be proud of my running accomplishments because they’ve been hard earned.

CR: What’s one thing you can’t live without?

CV: While I started running just for me, the connections I’ve made through the running community have changed my life. They bring support, joy, comfort, motivation and love to my days. I can’t imagine my running life without them.

CR: What is your motto?

CV: Running is more than putting one foot in front of the other. It involves the head and the heart.

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