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Thursday, May. 24, 2018
Sundry stories of the Sudbury Rocks Marathon
by Randy Pascal

With some two thousand or so participants on hand each and every year, there are sure to be some familiar faces in the crowd as young and old gather for the annual Sudbury Rocks Marathon.

Thankfully, their stories vary over time, with countless different angles at play, with newcomers and race veterans alike taking turns grabbing the spotlight near the front of the races. In that sense, the 2017 version was every bit as unique as each and every one of its predecessors, dating back to the launch of the current Mother’s Day tradition in 2006.

Maureen Moustgaard has yet to miss the race, though Sunday marked her first crack at the 10 km distance since celebrating her 70th birthday just two weeks ago. “I do this event every year, and every year I go up the Boréal hill, I say that I’m not coming back,” she said with a smile.

“And I always come back.” While her finish time is not the be all and end all – “I aim to start and I aim to finish, and that’s what I do” – Moutsgaard did complete the trek in virtually the same clocking as one year ago, no easy feat given the natural wear and tear on the body when one remains active into their seventieth year on earth.

“When I was in my early forties, I had knee injuries, but all I did was run,” she explained. “In the last ten years, I started swimming, I go to yoga, I do strength and conditioning twice a week, so I mix it up. And I have no knee or hip replacements – I still have all of my original parts.”

First time marathon participant and race winner Petri Bailey must dream of maintaining that level of health for the next 45 years, as he works his way towards the Moustgaard standard. Posting a time of 3:04.44, the former member of the Laurentian Voyageurs nordic ski team drew upon some family feedback in preparing for his first shot at the 42 kilometer run.

“I was actually talking with my sister last night, and she had run a marathon a while back,” Bailey stated minutes after crossing the line. “She had found that her legs started to feel really sore at about the 36 km mark, and that was pretty much exactly when my legs started to feel like lead.”

“But overall, I felt pretty good. My cardio was really good the whole way. It was just the lactic acid build up at the end.” While years may separate Moustgaard and Bailey, there is an undeniable common thread created through their mutual motivation for physical activity.

“I love running,” acknowledged Bailey. “I’m actually going to try and run as much as I can this summer and do as many races as I can. We’re hosting the Finlandia Trail Run series again at the Laurentian Nordic Ski Club.”

Another first time winner in his category, Jordan Burkitt has far more experience running half-marathons than he does with the 10 km jaunt that he completed in 38:35, comfortably ahead of Katie Wismer (38:59).

“This is the first 10 km race I have done in the last twenty years,” noted the 41 year-old long-time runner. “I have been on and off again for a couple of decades now, but have been more serious about it the past four to five years.”

“Typically, I run half-marathons, but the past year, I have been injured, so I’m not where I was at a year and a half, two years ago. I would have liked to be a couple of minutes faster, but I was happy with the finish.”

“Today was challenging because of the headwind running up Notre Dame, and that hill at Cambrian Heights is challenging. I’ve never been on the 10 km course before.” With an avid passion for both mountain biking and kayaking, as well as his interest in running, Burkitt has yet to decide on a summer race schedule, though he is planning on doing the half marathon in Ottawa before the end of the month.

“I ran Scotiabank in Toronto in 1:18 and change a year and a half ago,” he said. “I would like to get down to 1:15, but I have a lot of work to do to get there.” Eighteen year-old first year Laurentian University student Jarod Milford fully appreciates that statement.

A multi-sport athlete throughout his time at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary, he made the jump to the OUA varsity ranks last fall, racing with the Voyageurs cross-country team. On Sunday, it would be the 21 kilometer distance that he would tackle, finishing eighth overall in a time of 1:32.26, as Eric Leishman showed the way in 1:11.41.

Though he was thankful to have completed the distance, Milford will soon begin to re-focus on his cross-country training, a regimen that provided something of an eye opener last fall. “It’s fun, but it’s very difficult,” he said. “It’s a different training process compared to high school. The coaches expect a lot more out of you, the workouts are harder.”

“I didn’t do Track North, so it was a very big adjustment going from Lo-Ellen track to Laurentian track.” And while the pure racers are always fun to catch up with, the reality is that the overwhelming majority of those who attended the 2017 Rocks Marathon do so with vastly more modest goals in mind.

For the Boland clan, it was a family outing, as Cameron, Graham, Lindsay and Shannon (mother) all ran the 10 kilometer event, while Jim (father) took a crack at the 5 km event. Though a top ten finish was not in the cards, the extra push of a sibling rivalry for the teens simply cannot be ignored.

“It gives you a little more pressure to do well,” noted Cameron, the 16 year old grade 10 student of the group. “I’m very competitive, and I like to compete against them, especially my brother. We were all “around” the same time, but there is a little bit of a gap between my brother and I, and my mom and my sister.” Rest assured that this gap will surely be the focus as the Bolands return, next May, for the tradition that has become the Sudbury Rocks Marathon.

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