More than a hundred runners hit the pavement Sunday for the 43rd annual Labour Day Classic road race.
As runner take their mark, Race Founder, Tom Masich looks back on the journey to bring one of the province’s first official road races to Prince George. “Running was just becoming the vogue in those days and we decided to have a distance run in Prince George based on one I used to organize in Prince Rupert.”
The original 17 mile race from Salmon Valley to Spruceland Shopping Centre has certainly seen its fair share of famous Canadians including ultra-marathoner, Tom Howard, and the ‘Man in Motion,’ Rick Hansen. In 1979, the race even caught the eye of a 21 year old man by the name of Terry Fox, running on one leg.
At the time, Cory Watts was just eight years old. The Stride & Glide Running Technician still remembers the day he saw his Canadian hero. “There was all this talk about this man out there, this young man running with one leg, and everyone was in this buzz about how crazy that was,” he said. “He finished the one lap, two laps for the 17 miler, and I think it was going so well that he just did another lap, it was amazing.”
Fox finished dead last in the event, but it was Prince George that inspired him to run an even bigger marathon says Race Director, Dennis Straussfogel. “According to his good friend Doug Alward, if they hadn’t come up here Labour Day Weekend 1979 to run this race, there’s a very good chance Terry Fox would have never run the Marathon of Hope and no one would have ever heard of him.”
Today, Fox’s statue with his bib number 192 from the original ‘PG To Boston Marathon’ race stands proudly beside the Civic Centre. Now, young kids like 13 year old Erik Hoffman, commemorate him by going further and faster on his own two feet. “He does kind of inspire people that way and running a race that he’s been in does kind of inspire you to get out and maybe you’ll do a longer distance next year and then the next year you’ll do a longer one.”
Meanwhile, Ruthless Red from the Rated PG RollerGirls says it’s an event that brings not only her team together, but an entire community. “Saying I came from the town where Terry Fox was born, it’s kind of fun to be in the same race,” she said. “This is also the first race that I had ever done, and it kind of started off my running career and I’ve gone on to do other marathons and stuff like that.”
At the end of the day, Straussfogel is pleased with this year’s turnout which saw about an extra 20 people come out than year’s past. “I’ve been promoting the connection with Terry Fox and I think maybe some people have responded to that,” he said. “In this race you quite literally are running in the footsteps of Terry Fox.”