Running for the kids
Some runners spare no expense equipping themselves with the latest moisture-wicking fabrics and cushioned shoes to get a comfort or competitive advantage.
Before Sandon Fraser hits the track at Swangard Stadium this weekend, he went to Value Village.
Fraser and more than a dozen of his best buddies comprise Tight and Bright, one of almost 70 teams of recreational runners who will be circling a four kilometre route around Burnaby's Central Park and Swangard Stadium for 24 hours to help send kids with disabilities to summer camp.
This will be the team's fifth 24 Hour Relay For The Kids. The event started in 1978 with 23 teams raising more than $70,000. Since then the relays have spread across Canada, from Calgary to St. John's, and they've raised more than $51 million for local Easter Seals programs.
Fraser, the youth services co-ordinator for the city of New Westminster, says his group first got involved for the challenge. Not only the running aspect, but also the fundraising. It costs $2400 to send one child to camp, and this year the members of Tight and Bright are hoping to cheer the summer of four kids by raising $10,000.
"It's a lot of fun to work towards a goal," says Fraser.
They do that by organizing various events through the preceding months, like pub nights, a garage sale, an annual party. They've even teamed up with other groups to support each other's fundraising efforts.
But coming up with all that money pales to the effort expended to conjure up the team's annual theme and accompanying costumes, says Fraser, especially since they've previously won the prize for best costumes and they're featured on the poster promoting this year's event.
"It's supposed to be fun," says Fraser, who picked up a Superman costume at the thrift store. "We like stepping out of character."
This year the team continues their tradition of creating a pun from the year to determine the colour of their costumes. They'll wear blue spandex, bright blue afro wigs and blue knee socks to celebrate twenty-one-blue; last year they wore yellow to celebrate two thousand e-lemon.
While in the past teams didn't don their crazy costumes until the final lap on Sunday morning, in recent years more and more participants have chosen to run the whole event in their getups.
"It's become more of a celebration than a race," says Fraser. "It's such a fun day."
This year's Easter Seals 24 Hour Relay For The Kids begins Saturday at 10 a.m. at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby and concludes 24 fun and festivity filled hours later. Along the way, runners and their supporters will be entertained by live music, volleyball and dodge ball competitions and the annual Mr. and Ms. Relay Pageant.
To find out more, or to donate to a team or runner, go to www.24hourrelay.com.