Earlier this month I traded in my walking shoes for a pair of runners (they were the same shoes) and ran the Vancouver Fall Classic half-marathon. The support I felt on course was amazing. Never have I felt so valued and accepted by a group of peers as I do by the running community, and I try to relish every opportunity I get to compete in local races where I can connect with its members.

RELATED: A walker’s perspective: introducing Evan Dunfee

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The sun shone brightly☀️ ••• Yesterday had nothing to do with being a runner. Yesterday was about gritting my teeth and willing myself toward this arbitrary target I set out to achieve on a whim 2 years ago. ••• It’s been a rough year. I didn’t achieve any of the goals I set out for myself after a hamstring tear derailed my spring and abysmal (to the standard I set for myself) showings at Commonwealth Games and World Team Champs. Yesterday reminded me what it feels like to cross a finish line and be 100% satisfied. Chasing 69:59 was all for me, there was nothing else to be gained other than personal gratification… and I did it! ••• I have some big goals in 2019 and I’m now so excited to get that campaign underway to chase this feeling of complete satisfaction again! (After some fun and rest in November) • 📸 @runvancanada #runvan #fallclassic #running #halfmarathon #athletics #olympics #teamnb #nuunambassador #winner #training #sport #fitness #fitfam #runner #marathontraining

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Since the race, I’ve been wondering exactly what it is about this community that I am so drawn to. What stands out most for me is the idea that everyone’s goals are equal. Whether you’re running your first 5K and trying to break 30 minutes or you’re trying to qualify for the Olympics, the celebration of the pursuit is the same.

This common ground is amazing, and it means we can all stand to learn from one another. I have drawn so much inspiration from the stories of those who fit their passion for running in around their lives with work, family and the rest, and I can only hope that my journey has helped inspire back.

RELATED: Olympic racewalker decides to run, wins half-marathon

My own thought experiment on what makes this community so great got me wondering what other elite runners think about the running community at large.

 

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The list of people to recognize from today is countless. This was a decade in the making and I want to say THANK YOU and express my gratitude for all the people and process that made this happen. First and foremost, my family- everyone was here in #toronto this weekend, which rarely happens. Thank you for making this a priority for the year and for supporting my passion even when I was on crutches and couldn’t walk @suutfxc and @erickhoule : the boys strung me along during training in the spring to help get me back to fitness, Eric helped supervise my workouts and his wife Diane kept me well fed during altitude training in Cedar City, Utah Trent Stellingwerff for his brilliant mind and knowledge regarding nutrition and fueling (my wife loved decorating my bottles and may never let me return to track now) My physio team: both @kurtmarionlmt and @davidmchenry13 (Portland), and Dutch and Stephen Workman (Cedar City) who kept me in one piece during this whole buildup @ryan.p.vail and @reidcoolsaet for letting me pick their brains on this whole marathon beast- they are both great guys and great role models My agent, @flynnsports @raypflynn , my sponsors @hokaoneone and @polarglobal for sticking with me and working to create these opportunities Finally, to @alnbrookes @runcrs @scotiabank for inviting me to #stwm last year to preview the course and for the incredible hospitality and organization this year. Everything I could have possibly wanted for my debut was in place with amazing pacers and meet staff/volunteers, (that tracked down my bag hours later) and they have consistently hosted an event that is world-class and high quality. I may be a west coast boy, but Toronto will always have a special place in my heart. 📸Cole Burston/Canadian Press

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RELATED: Cam Levins was patient, and it paid off

Cam Levins, newly minted Canadian record-holder in the marathon: “What I have enjoyed about stepping into the marathon is there seems to be an appreciation for getting to the start line and taking on the event. The amount of work to handle, both finishing and excelling, seems to be just understood among the community.”

 

Jessica O’Connell is a Canadian Olympian in the 5000m and an online coach. She adds that “the running community is chock full of the kindest, most supportive, driven yet selfless people I’ve met. Being a part of this community really eliminates the loneliness of long-distance running.”

RELATED: Chatting with Olympian Jessica O’Connell

 

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Gimme five for Sept. racing! 🖐 • Huge thanks to @kylemerber and his amazing crew at the #LongIslandmile who put on yet another fantastic event this year! I'm always so impressed by and grateful for the support and enthusiasm of the local #running communities at these races. It was an awesome experience and I'm already looking forward to the 2019 edition! • Wednesday night was my last #track race of the year. Tomorrow morning I toe the line for the @athleticscanada 5km Road Championships to cap off my 2018 season. Pumped to close things out in front of a home crowd with some speedy Chicas! Come out and cheer us on around the streets of #Toronto starting at 9am! • #nikerunning #nikewomen #trackgirls #trackandfield #fitchicks #the6ix #runTO

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Kate Van Buskirk, 2013 World Championship semi-finalist and host of the Shakeout Podcast: “Its a fact, that runners are nice. Ninety-nine per cent of the people I’ve met through my sport have been lovely, warm, supportive, collaborative, and kind. I think that, because running is so accessible, it facilitates easy connections and fast friendships. My sense of community has remained constant through both my highest and lowest moments in sport, and the relationships that I have developed through running have been my most enduring. I can’t imagine my life without running, in big part because of the personal joy it brings me, but in even greater part thanks to the wonderful people that make up this huge community.”

RELATED: The Shakeout Podcast

 

Eric Bang is one of Canada’s top marathon talents, running 2:19:03 in Chicago this year, and a Nike+ Run Club pacer in Toronto. Eric has an enormous appreciation for his local running community: “There is space for everyone. No matter what a person’s reason for running is, they will find support from complete strangers they have nothing in common with, other than the fact that they also decided to lace up their shoes and run. I think that is wonderful.”

 

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