MitoCanada's Running On Empty was a perfect event for trail runners and mountain bikers to loop a fun, yet technical single track course all the way making new friends, chatting with old friends and bumping shoulders with all different abilities. Enjoying the beautiful day was only part of the experience. The other was raising funds and awareness for MitoCanada. Please, please, please visit the link provided to find out more about this amazing foundation.
The first thing I noticed at the Nordic Center in Canmore AB (the replacment course due to the June floods) was that everyone, long time friends and complete strangers were all smiling ear to ear. To be clear, this is not a race but a personal challenge to complete as many laps as you can either solo or on a team. I decided that I would relax, run a reasonable pace and run alongside as many runners as I could. The day started with me running two 8.5K laps with a new friend and ultra juggernaut Andy Reed. We shared stories, laughs and he told me about his incredible 24th place finish at this years Leadville 100M. The rest of the day was spent meeting and making a long list of new friends.
My only regret on the day was not running a lap with Blaine. I heard about Blaine and his family's story in March of 2011 when my son Sam ended up in the hospital with flacid paralysis. A biopsy was performed to test for mitochondrial disease. Not knowing what mitochondrial is, I did what every parent seems to do: I went home and Googled it. The first thing to pop up was a video about Evan Penny, Blaine and Sarah's son. Immediatly I felt peace. The way the Penny family goes about their life and challenges is truly inspirational. The biopsy came back 3 months later and was negative. Currently Sam's disorder is undiagnosed and continues to be researched. He continues to suffer a form of ataxia (lack of balance and coordination). All who meet the Penny family are lucky to see that they are the epitomy of strength and positivity.
Next year may shift back to the original course of West Bragg Creek out to Canmore all throughout Kananaskis country, picking up runners as we trek along. I totally recommend this event for anyone wanting to meet like minded people, enjoy Kananaskis trails, and want to raise awareness and funds for the best foundation around.