WE DID IT!

It’s me, Virginia. I finally gave Vicki a break from her long nights of sweating it out over the computer to help bring my message and story to life. It’s her turn to sit back and read an entry – her turn to take a break – her turn to enjoy the beauty of the past 2 weeks. Heck, she certainly deserves it!

As a math teacher, I can not promise this blog will be anywhere near as beautifully written as what my sister was able to express via her amazing writing abilities, but I will do my best. After all, our best is what we all are capable of and it should always be good enough 🙂 SO all you English teachers out there try hard not to correct my mistakes and let them just be a further extension of who I am – no where near perfect but good just the way I am. 🙂

I wanted to write one last blog to let you all know I am alive and still kicking. What a ride. As my sister Velma and I drive home from Niagra an hour after I crossed the finish line, I turned to her and started to giggle. I said, “Velma I can’t believe how naive I was going into this. I truly had no idea what running 900km of Bruce Trail really meant. That was nuts!” Both of us were laughing as we drove down the highway, not quite sure what just had unfolded.

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Beth’s best friend, Sharon. Please check out the story at http://www.bethsbootsahiking.com

I keep saying WE DID THIS because there is no way I would ever of completed Day 2 without everyone stepping in to help. I can’t possibly list all the names – there was just too many other people running with me either on the trail, cheering me on from their homes or watching over me from above (bethsbootsahiking.com). Every morning I woke up at 4:30am and grabbed my phone to read messages and my sister’s blog.  Each time I was not disappointed as the message was loud and clear that people would wait for me to finish when I did – not when I should. No pressure – just support. No judgement – only guidance. No stigmas – only voices sharing their own stories of depression, eating disorders and other mental health issues. How could I not get out of bed and start moving? So I did. Left foot, right foot, repeat.

Once Chris told me I had 5km to go, I became very excited. I was longing to reach the end. But – something made me slow down a bit. I remembered how in life we are always so quick to try to get to the “end”. Striving so hard to reach our goals but often missing the journey along the way. Instead of picking up my pace (cause I had lots still in the tank) I started to slow down. I did not really talk to anyone the last 5km, but instead watched my feet and tried hard to soak up this moment. The closer I got to the finish the more I was terrified of tripping -wanting to complete this so badly that I was scared of something stepping in my way. Then came Barb’s smiling face with 3 km to go. She came back! What a beautiful face beaming down at me and giving me play by play of what was upcoming. What an incredible lady – constantly giving to others. She came back! 🙂 She read a message from Vicki who was texting her – she said something about it feeling like being pregnant, 10cm dilated and ready to pop. Yup – leave it to Vicki, a labour and delivery nurse, to give those words of encouragement with 2 km to go! Gotta love my family – unique in many ways! Barb was just kinda confused by the whole text. 🙂 I don’t blame her!

Cathy taking a moment

Cathy taking a moment –  a rare moment where she is not moving!

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This picture is perfect as Cathy always brings the light to anyone she is around.

With the finish line less then a km to go – my only thought was Cathy. I needed to be beside her – run in with her – share this moment with her. Cathy, as most of you know, is the most unselfish, giving, hard working girl I know. Just being around her brings other people up. Everyone gravitates towards Cathy for a reason as she is just that type of person (people reading this knowing her totally get what I am saying).  Together, we ran side my side. Taking in the cheers. Then, I saw the monument – the FINISH.

We grabbed hands (as I was crying like a loud screaming baby and could not see). She gently guided me in, just like she guidedIMG_3883[1] me all these days. And then she let go. I touched the monument and felt a huge sense xxxxx12004891_10153273079738042_933837854625402305_nof relief (ok Vicki -it was a bit like birth – that feeling of pure joy when the baby is placed in your arms and your pain is suddenly gone instantly). But within seconds I felt lost without Cathy. I looked up and there she was waiting patiently for our final hug. Next Ray’s hug and finally Velma’s hug. A perfect moment that would not of been possible without everyone. Thank you for giving that moment to me.

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Chris- he always brings life to any party. Even in the woods be brought wigs for entertainment.

Instantly we celebrated! I – no WE – had completed the Bruce End to End and secured the fasted women’s time. WOW. Cathy sure knew what she was doing in her sneaky little plans (often giving just the right amount of pressure and support when needed – sometimes telling me there was no aid stations available to make me go a few km’s longer when she knew I could).

BUT – within minutes of the celebration, I quickly came back to reality when I spoke to a teacher who just happened to be at the finish. He shared his story of the loss of his son to suicide this past June. It certainly snapped me back to reality and made me remember the true reason for this adventure. Not for some “record” but to end the stigma attached to mental health issues. The pure courage it took this man to share his story with me out of the blue was humbling. His face and tears in his eyes showed me his pain – pain I could not even begin to imagine. What struck me the most was even though this pain was only 2 months raw, he was able to speak of how already his son’s death had saved a couple of other students. A father – being able to think of others at such a time of loss for himself. This father is my hero. I don’t have his name but if you are reading this I want you to know I will never forget our conversation – and the strength you showed me. Never.

VELMA VOS

How do you even begin to thank the person who gave you a second chance at life all those years ago? And I feel like she did it2015-09-10 10.56.58 2015-09-09 17.37.56again. For those that don’t know her, she has 5 kids (under the age of 15), runs a Dairy Farm in PEI has the same spunk as Cathy and could put the energizer bunny to shame.

She ran a total of 89km’s with me in the last 3 days – not bad for a non runner!  Did she have time to come up and help out – HECK NO. But, as always, she made the time. She was only suppose to stay for the first 4 days, but came back for the last 4 just because. I can not even put words to the feeling of her walking through my bedroom door the night she came back. But the next day was tough as again I felt guilty that she dropped everything yet again in her life to help me. How lucky am I? Velma, you saved me all those years ago and your continue to inspire me to be the best that I can. Around you I feel like I can do anything. She never complains, sees the glass half full and is quick to give to others wanting nothing in return. She is still here with me now, cleaning my house, baking for my kids and giving me this time to write my blog. I won the lottery with both my sisters – they are the BOMB. Jonboy (my bother) you are the BOMB too. How you survived in our chatterbox of a family ceases to amaze me! 🙂

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Zoe – my favourite newphie neighbour!

I arrived home to beautiful signs and neighbours waiting to say congrats (thank Zoe – you are just the best). I went to bed on a high, knowing that it would eventually diminish. I hibernated for the entire next day – hanging with the boys that evening and just letting my body understand that it no longer had to run. I awoke today to a message from Colleen, my best friend since high school) who flew in from Alberta to help me- what a great way to begin the day.

There are so many moments over these past 2 weeks – I had my 54 year rock star picking me up after down days, visits from Bruce Trail finishers, Sport Chek backing me with the gear, awesome underwear and clothes from Lululemon, veteran Ultra Runners guiding my way and a family of people cheering me on. I am lucky. Very lucky.

LOW POINTS

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Colleen serving me an amazing meal from Barrie and Cathy. I was treated like a Queen the entire adventure 🙂

But let’s also be honest. There were many lows to (much like life). To not mention them would be a disservice to Positive Mental Health as learning to handle the stresses or lows in life is key to marinating balance. My lowest was Day 7 – the pain in my shin was unmanageable at that point. The worry of my weight gain (9 pounds), bulging compartment syndrome looming and the lack of any energy became huge. I can not lie. When the ER doctor and my Chrio Dr. Julie came to Barry and Cathy’s house that night to see me I was at the lowest point. I sat on the coach and longed so badly for the words, “it is in the best interest of your health to stop.” Those words did not come. I tried hard not to scream – take me out now! But, the doctors told me not to make a decision until the morning. What wise words. Often we make decisions in the mist of chaos and when we are over tired. Making decisions rested is the best advice I can offer. I was about to quit. I didn’t. Was I able to do that on my own. NOPE as if it was just me I would of quit. Instead, my best friend Colleen guided this decision for me gently the next morning. She told me that we would just do 10km and then come back to the pool for Margaritas. No pressure. Off I went – and kept going. Thanks Colleen for knowing what I needed as you often have over the years.

Other lows included feeling like an animal. I ate like one, peed/pooped like one and stunk like one. My legs were harry, my hair matted, my clothes stinky and my mind ravaged with instincts to stay alive and healthy. Thanks Greg for making me really not care about that stuff! Eventually I did not care, often peeing without warning people I was about to do so. Poor pacers, they would turn around to see how I was doing only to be flashed by a bare bum. Always polite, they quickly turned away. I was not embarrassed as at this point survival was my only guide for behaviour.

My final major low was when Velma arrived. That night I worried all night that I would disappoint her. She had flown all they way back for me and I could not fathom letting her down. I cried the entire morning after – tears streaming down my face uncontrollably as I ran. I could not stop them, but tried to get rid of them when I knew an aid station was close. I could not let her see – even though I am sure she knew. Thanks Steve Forrest for not judging but just running with me – giving a little hug when I needed it. Once I stopped the crying I allowed myself to be thankful she was here. I allowed myself to accept her offer of support and jump on this ride with her. She taught me that – to accept kindness and belief you deserve it. With Velma behind me, watch out as nothing was stopping me now!

The last mini low was 9km out. For all you runners out there you know what it feels like to BONK. I felt it coming on (despite the amazing guidance from Brenda and Christina). When I hit the 9km aid station I knew I just had to tell Cathy. She would take care of it – I did not need to worry about it. It is amazing when you trust someone that much that you truly believe they will fix it. She fixed it. Quietly and quickly – Cathy fixed it. The rest is history!  Click for Video of finish

Future

In case anyone is wondering. I heard from my coach Ronnie Shaw last night – the coach from high school. What an awesome feeling to be speaking to the guy who inspired me on the second last day – the big day I had to complete high km’s. I wanted to know he saw that video as all I could think of on that day was him. It is amazing how much a teacher or coach can have an impact on your life. He was and always will be an important part of who I am. He helped hold me and find the strength to tackle high pressure situations. Love ya Coach Shaw! Reach out and contact your teacher or coach who may of impacted you. We sometimes just assume they know how much they mean to us – trust me it is important to say it.

As for my kids – sure they missed me but they were taken care of by wonderful people. Brenda and Micheal – the boys just 2015-09-23 17.35.10loved being around you and the your “children” and of course Erika, Zoe, Derek and Scotty who also stepped in to provide the support they needed. I do not apologize for putting myself before my kids when it comes to Mental Health. After all, without positive mental health I could not be the MOM I long to be. I feel much too often we focus all our attention on our children and forget that we MOMS must take the necessary time to recharge and destress so we can provide them with the love they so much deserve. Yes, I was away for 2 weeks and yes my training did take me from them at points. BUT – even without this run I would of taken time for me as I made a vow to myself years ago when I left my treatment clinic that POSITIVE MENTAL HEALTH would be the most important thing in my life above all else. Without positive mental health I could not be the Mom, teacher, wife, sister, friend or colleague that I want to be. My husband understood this when me got married. We spoke about my past and what I needed to ensure I stay healthy. I encourage all Moms out there to ensure they take time away with their spouses/partners and recharge. Have a date night, have a week to yourself, be selfish once in a while. Your kids and partner will thank you for it when you return!

What do I do now? The old me years ago would instantly try for another feat (as in my mind I was never good enough). Not the present me. I have learned through the years (therapy and soul searching) that I am good enough without any major event to try to prove it. I will lay low, enjoy the day and not get sucked into a “high” that eventually fades away. All we really have is now – this moment. I will take it in, enjoy my family and go back to being a “mom” – the  most important role I have.

As for the future, I plan to continue to give presentations of Mental Health and together hope that one day we will conquer the stigma around mental health issues. My main focus will be putting those funds to good use – ensuring students have a voice in their own practice approach to positive mental health. I know Camerons Help will continue to do an amazing job organizing running programs in schools to end the stigma using the funds all of you donated.

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Dad. No words needed here as the picture speaks for itself.

One final note. To my father, Donald Cann. You have and always will be my biggest cheerleader/supporter. You were the one person all my life who in your eyes I could do no wrong. I remember one day coming home from Velma’s to visit you when I was sick. You did not speak of this with me, but instead went on in the car ride rhyming off all the reasons why you think I am so great. I listened to each word you said and at that point in my life I thought – poor Dad if he only really knew who I was he too would also “unlove” me. I have not shared that with anyone until this moment as I type. That moment was so dark because it was like Dad was the last string – the final cut. If he knew this “monster” of me he too would cut me loose. Yet, I still listened to those words – longing to believe in them. My dad has a special place in my heart. He is a good man. He is a kind man. He is a gentle man. He taught me how to be happy for others and take joy in other peoples accomplishment. He always said, “it is so much better helping someone get their goal as it is like you are also getting it too.” He continuously taught us this using the four siblings as examples – bringing us to each other games and cheering for one another. I love you Dad. You stay strong and don’t sweat the small stuff. I know you wanted to be at the finish – but life is not always that easy. Together we understand the struggles that our minds can bring upon us. I understand. I am there with you. Thank you Mom as well for stepping up to the plate again and being behind the scenes to allow Velma to be here for the support I needed.

Dad, the idea of you making your way out here in October is even better. I love you. Forever I will be your little girl – the one who got bucked off the horse, skinned her knee and clutched the wrong one. I remember being embarrassed when you showed up to my high school in the farm clothes smelling like poop and you cheering at all the basketball games, bragging so proudly and equally about all your children. I would take your poopy smelling farm clothes any day as they come with that infectious attitude and smile.

FINAL WORD

I will leave you all with a final video. I took a shower, smell a bit better and can stop and enjoy the wind blowing in my hair. We did this together. SO let’s keep it going and stop that stigma around mental health issues.

Day 1 5:30 am Tobormory

Day 1 5:30 am Tobormory

Day 14 Queenston - 11:28pm

Day 14 Queenston – 11:28pm

Aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!  Yeeeeeeeehaaaaaa!!!

She did it! Virginia Gingras completed running the Bruce Trail end to end from Tobermory Ontario to Queenston Heights, Niagara approximately 900km in 13days, 6hrs & 28min!!!

Hello everyone my name is Vicki Cann and I’m here to tell you that I have the same genetic makeup as the fastest female EVER to run the Bruce Trail. How cool is that?!

What’s even more amazing is I have a sister who tried to make a difference. She threw her own vulnerabilities and history of struggles in the open for everyone to see. She did this in hopes that even one troubled teen is listening. She did this in hopes that even one stigma about mental health has now vanished from our thinking.  To date, the Virginia vs Bruce trail endeavor has raised over $15000 for positive mental health. How cool is that?

This may not all have happened if it wasn’t for one moment in time. The moment, 15 years ago, that resonated with Virginia to not give up on life– the moment when she finally decided it was worth it to start trying.  It was the moment when Velma said, “ Virginia you may have given up, but I love you so much and I am never going to give up on you. So, I’m going to start fighting this battle for you until you are strong enough”.  Let’s hope that the money we raised will spark the moment that makes all the difference in even one young boy or girl’s life.

Well folks this will be my last blog. It’s been a pleasure and privilege to share this journey with you. It’s time I hand this website’s password back to its rightful owner. I’m sure Virginia has a few more stories and thank you’s she’d like to share on her own. Stay tuned for her next blog entry –‘ Guess how much money the Toe Nail Fairy leaves under your pillow after running over 900km?’ Stay tuned…

The final chapter in this Bruce Trail legacy started like this…

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She even stopped with the 10km left to go to make special mention of moi [blush]

Pacers Christina Blackley, Brenda East & Velma Vos paced the entire 35km morning.IMG_3870[1] On the final leg, Chris Laughren, Ray Gingras, Barb Campbell and Cathy Gallagher joined stride. As Gin said in the above video “I’m not doing this, WE are doing this. ..and we are finishing together. Everybody!” And boy oh boy, what a finish….

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This video is a complete blurr but the audio is fantastic

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Girl power!

The man who had the exhilarating job of all! Being the husband of a woman who dared to attempt something extra extraordinary. She couldn't have done it without the support of Ray Gingras.

The man who had the exhilarating job of all! –being the husband of a woman who dared to attempt something extra extraordinary. She couldn’t have done it without the support of Ray Gingras.

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Virginia’s welcome home from her neighbors and friends

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Gin’s most loyal fans –sons Ray-Ray & Julien

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Virginia with recent strangers turned overnight hosts Phil Hutton of St. Catherines and Cathy Lee & Chuck Malcolmson of Hamilton. This picture represents Gin’s gratitude to ALL the people who hosted. You will have a place in her heart forever.

Aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!  Yeeeeeeeehaaaaaa!!!

She did it! Virginia Gingras completed running the Bruce Trail end to end from Tobermory Ontario to Queenston Heights, Niagara approximately 900km in 13days, 6hrs & 28min

Can you hear me hooting and hollering from Ottawa!??? I’m at work dancing on top of the nursing station — actually I’m not but I sooooo want to.

The party has started. I will share details –the pics, videos and embraces later tonight after my shift.

We love you Gin!!

Get ready everyone… this is going to be good.

Throughout this blog I’ve kept the focus on Virginia’s efforts to raise money to promote mental health. As mentioned before, when you do something like this, it has to be for something bigger than you. At the same time, I know I’m not fooling anyone, and neither is Virginia, to think that this is not also very personal. Virginia is going to finish this trail no matter what. If an injury pulls her off at any point she will take as long as needed to heal (could be hours, could be weeks) and then return to Bruce. She will eventually cross that finish.

Taking that goal up a notch is what I like to call the “R” word. The Record. The 13day, 10hr 51min, female record finish. The “R” word has only been whispered through all this. It’s been the quiet backdrop against which Gin ran to help others. But you bet your sweet bippy, it’s been on everyone’s mind. Yesterday morning, when Gin was down and deflated, I learned that, before running, she had quickly glanced at Day 11’s blog and my mention of the record. Shortly into her run she told Velma “There’s no way, there’s no way, I’m not going there. I just can’t.”. Well, as you can imagine, I felt like horrible that I had brought up the “R” word at the wrong time… until, that is, I was texted the video of Gin with the Hayden HS running team. What a relief to see her smiling again and just enjoying her run. The “R” word was not brought up again and Gin focused on being in the moment and embracing the support around her. No matter the outcome, Virginia wants to finish this thing in a healthy head space –for herself, as well as for the many people following her. Positive mental health is the whole point, not only for the followers but for herself.

However… The “R” word just hasn’t quite gone away. It has been looming this whole time and now that she is sooooo close, I cannot pretend the elephant isn’t in the room anymore.

Disclaimer: the crew has strict instructions from me that Virginia cannot read this blog in the morning. I don’t want anything I say to throw her off. [Gin, so help me, if you are reading this and you are not yet at the finish….]

She’d better be gone, ‘cuz boy do I have a story for you…

So last night Coach Cathy emails me, on the down low, to share that she has a plan. Low and behold, the record is in sight! She writes “ I am working on strategy with my husband, Barb Campbell and Ray to get her to break record but not ready to tell her… just keep her in the game ……no regrets, you never know…big day tomorrow, 1/2 day Wednesday …done …record? Won’t tell her yet she’s too sensitive about it.”  Cathy  

I knew it. Didn’t I tell you? From 500km away I could see it unfolding. If you know Gin in the least, or have a sense of who she is from reading these tales, you knew it too.

At noon Velma called me, busting through the phone to share that Gin had been raring to go since her 4am wake up. Apparently, she was like a race horse kicking at the starting gate during the 30min drive to the 6am start. And then she was off, with Vel & Denise Rispolie pacing behind her. “Vic, I could barely keep up with her!”. At the rest points, Ray could see Gin was on fire and he knew it was ‘time’ …At the 15km mark, Cathy called to speak to her. Vel heard the whole thing on speaker phone and it went something like this…

Cathy: “Virginia, I have something to tell you. You need to trust me on this one…”

Gin: “ I’ve trusted you since day one, I’m not going to stop now”

Cathy: “Gin, this is going to be a BIG day, your biggest day yet. YOU can do this”

Gin: “OK”

The “R” word wasn’t even mentioned. It didn’t need to be. Virginia hung up the phone, tied up her laces, looked at her running crew and said;

“Let’s do this. Let’s go for the record!” And off she went.

[pause here so your goosebumps can subside]

I don’t know what Cathy Lee and Chuck Malcolmson put in last night’s chicken and pasta dish. Whatever it was, I, along with every athlete reading this, would like the recipe.

So the rest of the day went like this…

This video is proof that once again they never shut up. By the way my sisters & I have a brother, Jonathan Cann.–He never did learn how to speak ‘cuz he couldn’t get a word in edgewise 😉  Hi Jonboy! I know you’re watching

This is my favorite video. Virginia announces that the famous Rhonda Marie joined her (learn more @ http://www.8percentnolimit.com). She also speaks out to her highschool basketball coach Ronnie Shaw. Every kid should have the privilege of a teacher, coach, leader, mentor of some sort, who believes in them and makes them feel special. Mine was my volleyball coach/teacher Mr. Gouthro. Who was yours? Who do you believe in? Trust me, they will remember.

Velma & Ray were captains again. The pacing team today was Denise Rispolie (33km), Velma Vos (27km), Paula Cruikshank 23km, Steve Forest (another 26km). We can’t forge Rhonda Marie, or Rodney Burke, Stewart Munro, Alex Campbell & Pete Gingras!!

Gin ran all evening into the night with Cody Gillies who held the Bruce trail record 2012-14 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Trail) and Henri Ragetlie who also has ran the trail end to end along with Alex Campbell. What an inspiration these guys were to Virginia. I’m sure they played a very influential role in her distance today. A big thank you to Henri’s wife Diane who shuttled cars.

Here’s the end of the day video

Ok here’s the scoop. Right now I don’t know exactly how much further she needs to go. The team sent me an email to explain why the Bruce trail is a little more than we thought. I will attach this note for the eager beavers. I have had the math verified and here it is;

Gin started September 10th at 0530hrs. If you add the record to that (13days, 10hrs & 51minutes) she will need to finish Bruce by September 23rd at 1621hrs (4:21pm).

She could do this people. She could do this.

I’m working a 12hr nursing shift tomorrow. I won’t be able to relay all the details until late that night but I promise I will put a quick notice up as soon as she finishes.

Stay tuned……

Vicki 🙂

P.S. Total $ raised so far $13720.00. Keep spreading the word. and don’t forget the VIRTUAL RUN.

Note from the team and then the pics

Keen observers may have noticed that I updated yesterday’s blog to increase the number of kilometres Virginia still had to run. It turns out the Bruce Trail is longer than we thought – just what she wanted to hear, I’m sure! The Bruce Trail website describes the trail as “more than 890 km”. Since even the Bruce Trail’s own app couldn’t confirm the current trail length, we used the 890 km number as an estimate, knowing there would be some adjustments along the way. Now that we’re getting close to the finish, we can confirm that Virginia will run more than 900 km.
Why was it difficult to know for sure? The Bruce Trail is constantly evolving as sections get rerouted closer to the Niagara Escarpment, temporary detours direct hikers around major repairs, and private property owners grant or withdraw permission for the trail to cross their land. It’s not uncommon for the Bruce to be rerouted several times in a month. If two people have done the Bruce Trail end-to-end, it is almost certain that they did not travel exactly the same route.
The Bruce Trail Conservancy is working to secure the trail corridor permanently by accepting donations of land and by purchasing land. In this manner, each year the BTC is able to preserve hundreds of acres of Escarpment landscape and Bruce Trail corridor forever. If you use or care about the Bruce Trail, please buy a membership and consider donating to the Bruce Trail Conservancy.
<http://brucetrail.org/pages/land-conservation>

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Denise fell & when Vel&Gin turned around she had the map in the air saying “Keep going I’m ok” and Gin was off Gotta love “Pacer Denise”

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with Paula Cruikshank

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Hug from Rhonda

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with Steve Forrest (stranger just days ago, now inspirational friend)

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Alex Campbell, Cody Gillies, Gin Henri Ragetlie, Pete Gingras

Giddy-up Ginny!! Yee haw!  What a ride this is. Can you even stand it?!  She has gone 793km and has 114km left to go!!! (Turns out this run is a little longer than we thought!)

Today’s start was a little shaky….  Virginia’s self-doubt had snuck up again. She was completely overwhelmed by the support around her….feeling so gracious but now questioning whether she deserved it all.  She was down. But you know our Ginny–If she’s going to fall eleven times it’s a guarantee she’ll get up twelve. In the end it was the support that kick started her to finish another kick-ass day. Today was all about support.

Here is a video where the flood gates are wiiiiide open. My sister does not typically cry like this over underwear…although lululemon has sweet underwear. Remember, its  about more than the underwear…

The key turning point was when the Hayden High School (where she use to teach) cross country running team showed up to pace her. She forgot all her worries when she saw them and started to catch up with her old student Jessica. Check out these two videos…

I’m almost nervous before I write the thank you list because I don’t want to miss anyone.

-Andrea & Magdin who I forgot to thank for pacing yesterday

-Joany Verschuuren who was co-captained yesterday and today & kept everyone’s head on straight

-Steve Forrest who literally came out of the darkness this morning to take stride

-Lori Ference who ran much further than what was planned

-Sarah Grahm the “lulu lady” who stuck around to shuttle pacers & run out to buy Gin’s energy powder

-Cathy Gallagher the trainer/pacer who is the main juggler of this balancing act (the bomb!)

-Velma Vos who simply came back! …& is a pro now with captaining and pacing.

-Barb Campbell who was back AGAIN to pace (love to know her mileage)

-Julie Parent who finished the day with Vel & Gin and helped guide the Cape Bretoners to the end of the dark trail with just one working headlamp

-Ray Gingras — Gin’s most steadfast support of all

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I even need to thank my own friends for spreading the word of Virginia’s vision. My friend Michelle’s in-laws, Sandra and Terry Calder (who happens to be a zone coordinator for the trail) tracked Virginia down so that they could cheer her on from the sidelines. Words of encouragement are behind each one of Gin’s steps. My friend Rebecca Swatton ‘s aunt & uncle who live in the area, offered a place to stay today. I spoke to Velma tonight and she said the hospitality of Cathy Lee and Chuck Malcolmson was “unbelievable…just unbelievable!”

All this outpouring of support and enthusiasm for the Virginia vs Bruce mission is a perfect example of how; “The more you give, the more you receive.” Ah, ya Gin, you’ve done a lot. You deserve to welcome it all.

Some of you might be wondering what more you can do. Great, you’ve already made a donation. But, what else?  Does Lisa Lightbourn-Lay (captain & pacer) have an idea for you –A virtual run! …. Here is her proposal….It sounds so fun!!!

Last August I was a part of a huge adventure with an amazing woman who ran the Bruce Trail. Rhonda-Marie Avery ran some 885km for 20 days with 8% vision. She ran with the support of over 50 guide runners and volunteers. Rhonda was doing her run to raise awareness for “other-abled” athletes. 

This year I was introduced to Virginia Cann. A teacher, mom, and amazing athlete raising funds and awareness for mental health and youth. I’ve been lucky enough to run with Virginia for 2 of her planned 13+ days on the Bruce. We spoke about a lot of things on the trail but a couple of things I will share because it means something for everyone. What I realized through Rhonda-Marie and what I saw in Cody Gillies and now Virginia Cann is this: running close to 900km is no easy feat. No matter how great of a runner you are, no matter how amazing your team is (and trust me you need a great support crew!) … the reason, the purpose of the run HAS to be bigger than you. If it isn’t… there is no Bruce Trail end to end. I have been lucky enough to meet in person or virtually people like Ray Zahab of I2P and Stephanie Case of Free to Run, and like Virginia and Rhonda-Marie are doing some amazing things in the running world but its ALWAYS something bigger than them. Here is where YOU can be a part of something bigger than yourself.

This week Virginia will be running her final leg of the Bruce that ends in Niagara. Not everyone can be out on the trail with her. But you can do a “virtual” run to the the finish with her. We are asking all of you to run on one of the last 2 days with Virginia to keep her going. Run anywhere. Any distance.Take a pic. Post it on the VirginiaVSBruce Facebook page and hashtag it #virginiavsbruce and #sweatforthis. Help Virginia do this amazing thing! Do it for Virginia, do it for someone in your life, do it for anyone you know who has suffered from depression or has been “othered”. Be a part of something big. Go Virginia go!!

Great idea Lisa! What a wonderful way to support Virginia and her cause. Ideally, the more we can get out on Tuesday the 22nd the better. Spread the word everyone and dust off your running/walking shoes and sweat bands!

Tomorrow will be one of the biggest days of this whole endeavor. Stay tuned…. anything could happen.

Happy Virtual Running

Vicki 🙂

PS Last but not least I want to share one more thing. Here is an email from Virginia’s friend/pacer. Read it and you will realize one of the reasons why Gin thought she could do this …. It’s because she’s surrounded by people like this….

Hi Vicki,

I am Virginia’s friend Andreea. I ran with her Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon and evening. I wanted to share a few things for her blog if you think they are worthwhile adding.  

Virginia, an amazing person I am lucky to call my friend continues to inspire us and break barriers that I did not think would be broken. In the beginning I was terrified that this tiny person could run the distance of the Bruce Trail. I worry too much some times and this journey worried me. Naturally when it was time for her to pass through Halton towards Niagara I had to jump in. 

I joined Virginia on Saturday, after 4 PM when her quad was sore and she ran the last 15 km with a super sore quad, a swollen knee but with a smile on her face. This woman did not know fear. She kept saying – fear is just pain leaving the body. As I tucked her in bed that night I could not stop thinking how she runs for all of us. As a former victim of an eating disorder I understand that this run is bigger than one person. It takes a village to heal a person. She is running for all of us. She is running to bring us together. 

Sunday morning day 11 came – she woke up ( startling me I may say) at 4:30 ready to jump on the trail. I had a hard time keeping up with her . Her friend, coach and captain Caty Gallagher had to change all the plans for a much earlier start than anticipated.  It was going to be a good day. A great day. 

And it was. Along the trail , around Limehouse, we met with a couple of runners and their dogs. They decided to run. Than the party just got bigger and bigger. By the afternoon when I rejoined she looked like all her pick-up lines were put to good use, since she had quite the group of handsome man tending to her needs at a rest stop. From there we giggled and laughed. Laura Gatey kept reminding her – “ you have nowhere to go , no other plans, just one step in front of the other and enjoy”. What an amazing message.

Towards the evening we were more worried about the coach and captain Cathy, who kept asking Virginia to be careful, just to bump and stumble herself 30 seconds later. 

IT was a great day. As I drove her back to Roy and Linda’s house for the evening I just watched her checking her videos, emailing you pictures and notes for the day. After 13 hours on the trail , this woman still had the logistical senses of recoding the day’s adventure. She was calm, collected, in pain but a joy to be around. Roy and Linda, two amazing people took such good care of Virginia both days of the weekend. She got her Rockstar treatment and rest in the most comfortable mattress I ever experienced. 

This morning on my way to work, on day 12 I had to stop and give her a hug. She is making her way towards Dundas , through Mount Nemo and it is another beautiful day . 

I want to tell Virginia that her run her adventure IS THE RECORD. Not the number of kilometers, not the number of days. She has managed in a short amount of time to connect more people , to encourage more people to run with each other than anybody I know. This tiny , amazing, fierce, stubborn, funny, loving woman manages every day to meet new people, share her story, promote mental health in youth and get the people around her to improve their lives by running alongside her. 

Thank you Virginia for running for all of us. Remember the people along this journey, the lives you’ve touched for ever and ever and know that you are OUR HERO. I could not be more proud, humbled by your journey and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for having us part of this experience. 

I got to say I miss you already and will try to sneak in as many visits as I can. 

Remember, nowhere to be, one foot in front of the other and enjoy. Today it will be an amazing day because you will touch at least one more life.

Andreea Stoica

727.3 km down ! Only 162.7 more to go. Wowsers! She is getting close to the finish.  Do you think she could do it? She’s not going as fast as her planned schedule. The female record to beat is 890km in 13 days, 10hrs & 51 minutes. Gin started on the 10th @ 5:30am. Does this mean she has to finish before the 23rd @ 4pm-ish? By the schedule it’s too late.  Something tells me (who is ultramarathon illiterate) it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Part of me writes this just to add suspense but part of me can’t help but wonder… you just wait and see.

I want to step back from the cheering and my silliness to get serious. I want to remind everyone of the main reason why Virginia is doing this. Through sweat and tears, each kilometer is potentially bringing troubled youth closer to help. She’ s running  to push mental health stigmas away from kids who suffer with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, ADHD, conduct disorder, psychosis, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and suicide. Virginia knows that the sooner a young person receives professional help, the greater the chances of emotional and physical recovery.  For sure, it would be nice to hold the title of fastest woman to complete the Bruce Trail. But even better would be a program or idea that spawned from one of our donations.  If even one life was saved or one day of misery relieved, it would be all worth it.

Virginia runs because she knows that at this very moment a sixteen year old girl is frantically cleaning around the toilet after making herself sick. Her little brother is knocking on the door asking her what’s taking her so long. She may hide her bulimic cycles from her family for months and even years. Eventually, her dentist will notice the eroding enamel caused by her stomach acids and share his suspicions with her parents. Wouldn’t it be nice if our donation money could somehow cause a positive mental health ripple effect that gets to her before then? Wouldn’t it be nice that her little brother doesn’t have to visit her in the hospital? Do you want me to go on?      I didn’t think so.

Remember day 8 of this journey? It started out OK but ended in tears and doubt.   As gut-wrenching as these moments were, I know Gin would go through a dozen more Day 8’s before she’d relive even one of her vicious binge –purge cycles. On the August 16th blog, Virginia shares a detailed story of her struggles. There is a 9 minute video worth watching (be sure to have Kleenex). At the end of the video Virginia reaches out to the girls & boys who might relate. Here is her promise.

“If somebody can hear my words and is in the place that I was—a dark dungeon of a place… and you feel you’re not going to get out of it…I’m here to tell you that you WILL …and you just have to TRY.. every day… and you will. I promise you, you will”.

Ok I don’t mean to be Debby Downer on yet another grrrreat day of running.  I wanted to bring the subject up earlier but how could I when pacers are dancing and donning wigs? I just wanted to stress that Rome wasn’t built in a day, the Bruce Trail wasn’t built in a day and mental health stigmas won’t disappear in a day either — BUT every small flicker of awareness has the potential to spread like wildfire.   ….I know you are thinking by now ‘ ok ok I clicked the flipp’n “share” button 82 times— get on with the blog!!!”

She did great. The end. [slow ha…ha]

To start, watch this video. This does NOT look like a lady who finished her 727th kilometer today.

The thank you list is getting longer and longer. The pacers coming out the woodwork included Jerry Baker, Sally Heath, Laura Gatey, Patty Vab Liefland, Linda Rudy and Chris Laris. Sharing captain duty with Cathy Gallagher was Meg Mancuso.  Dr. Julie showed up for yet another chiropractor treatment. Cathy raved on about the much needed help of Agnes, Patty and the “Hogs”, who all pitched in with shuttling. Friends from Cathy’s bootcamp showed up to cheer. Jennifer,  Gin’s old friend from highshcool who she hasn’t seen since 1993 brought her family to join the cheering team. At the end of the day she found herself being spoiled again thanks to the McMillian’s hospitality.

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In this video they make fun of Cathy tripping down the trail while pacing. No wonder! She had on so many responsibility hats she could barely stand— captain, pacer, pacer juggler, media supervisor, tree remover , long distance mom, shuttler and map reader.—all while carrying a huge secret I’ll share in a bit.

…and look what the cool cat (Greg Yaneff) dragged in …

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And the big secret is….. Our sister Velma surprised Virginia at the McMillian’s while chatting to me on the phone. It was a joyous embracing reunion which I thought I was in the middle of . But the reality was Gin, in shock,  had dropped me (the cell) on the bed and I was singing surprise songs to empty air until someone heard the muffles. It was hilariously pathetic. Yup. Vel’s back. She flew back from PEI to finish the trail with her.  Ohhhhh people, I’m telling you. Just wait. You haven’t seen exciting yet.

Another late night. Better sign off.

Ta ta for now,

Vicki

PS Here is a more detailed record of the day that Laura Gatey sent me. There’s some cute stories in here. Enjoy.

Hi Vicki, First off, I have to tell you that your blogs have been amazing!  Every day I look forward to reading them! I’ve cc’d Cathy so she can fill in the details that I have missed. I was with Virginia for just over five hours and she was in great spirits the entire time. And when I left her at 6, she still had not yet taken an advil today. Which is so awesome! Her legs were feeling much better than yesterday.The day started with Virginia running with Jerry and then Sally joined from there. (Cathy will have updates on that) At 1 o’clock they turned the pacer reigns over to trainer Cathy and myself (Laura Gatey). Cathy after being in charge of organizing everything and being in the car for the last 48 hours was happy to be back on the trails. Meg took over as captain and the three of us were off running. I will try to capture below a few moments that had us laughing.As we were running through Kelso park, I (Laura) decided to start telling people along the way that Virginia was running the entire Bruce trail. I figured it was something they needed to know! I quickly learned two things: 1) people don’t know how long the Bruce trail actually is and 2) my facial expressions tell all! The first response we got was “sure”…followed by a chuckle and then insert my look that captures the following: disbelief, shock, what the?!?!?.  Did they not understand what I was just telling them? Cathy turned just in time to see this look and set us into a case of the giggles for a while after that.  Anytime we passed people and they didn’t respond, Cathy got different versions of that look! Another person we passed had to repeat the number 700 a couple of times as they tried to understand Virginia’s amazing feat! Like 7- 0 – 0? She has done 7-0-0 km?!?At another point, Cathy mentioned that there were some more people cheering for Virginia up ahead…to which we figured out was a rooster! While at Kelso, we had stopped to move to the side so some bikers could go by us and Virginia, never losing her Virginia spirit, said “Have a good ride.”  The response she got was “Have a good walk.”  From that moment forward, became the quote and biggest understatement of the day! You can imagine how that sat with Virginia!! “Have a nice walk?!? Have a nice walk?!?! Are they kidding me?!?” Virginia’s amazing chiropractor Dr. Julie meet us on the trails. Dr. Julie has been awesome! We joked about princess Virginia as I held a towel over her to block out the sun while she was worked on! As well, you will notice a picture Cathy sent of our tree mover! He moved twigs, rocks, and trees out of Virginia’s way! Late afternoon we were joined again by the Hogs running group who just kept running the trails until they could find us. After that we were joined by Andrea and Magdin Stoica. At all rest stops Meg was waiting for us! Cathy, I hope I captured most of the day! I don’t remember the name of our tree mover!  I had such a great time with you ladies today! Thanks again Vicki for your blog!          Laura Gatey

One last thank you to the McMillians

And she just keeps going and going and going and going. Despite a late start around 7am and a midafternoon downpour, Virginia was still able to run another 60.7km. Her ten day total is 667.4km. The Energizer Bunny is speechless.

As Virginia inches toward an inconceivable goal, there is a growing number of followers and this blog is getting popular — How could I disappoint with the material I’m given?  It’s all quite thrilling – rattle snakes,  mother-child reunions,  ER visits, tears, sexy pacers, dancing etc. I couldn’t make this stuff up. More and more people are hopping on the Virginia vs Bruce (VVB) band wagon. The donation meter is creeping up. Way to go everyone!! I know Gin is so appreciative right down to the bottom of her black and blue toes.

With the accolades, comes the pressure to keep blog followers interested.  I have considered hiring a stalker. He could try to sabotage everything by sawing down cliff stair cases, changing trail markers, or placing a few taxidermy grizzly bears here and there.   How suspenseful would that be!?  VVB would go viral and donations would sky rocket. I can see the headlines “Bruce Trail Stalker Captured!— Pacers lasso culprit using running shoe laces. ( Of course, the laces would be from Sport Chek  and the male pacers would be wearing nothing but Lululemon underwear [pause for visual]).

…But then I envision the stalker, with his chain saw, coming up behind me at 2am while I’m blogging… I turn and scream “You got the wrong sisterrrrrr!!!”  After my funeral, investigators would zoom in on a 1990 polaroid of Gin winning a road race. Running just meters behind would be yours truly with an envious evil glare in my eyes. What a screen play! We can call it ‘Body Guard II — Stalker in the Sticks’. Kevin Costner, I know you are reading this. Have your people call my people. Yes, Catherine Zeta-Jones, you can play me.

Sorry…I’m getting carried away. FYI: The Bruce Trail itself needs its own bodyguard. Would you believe it is not fully protected. Learn more on Virginia’s donation page where you can help protect this breathtaking trail…..

I suppose you want to know all the details of what happened today. Firstly,Gin said goodbye to best friend Colleen who went back home to Innisvale, Alberta.  Colleen had played a detrimental role in Gin’s turn around between Day 8 &9.  Today was another day of HUGE support. Captains Cathy Gallagher and Joany Verschuuren took turns pacing. Pacers also included Patty Scott, Keith Lascelles, Joanne Merkley and Andrea Stoica. Gin’s Georgetown high school cross country running team joined stride along with “The Hogs” running group.  On the last 1km the principal and teacher from Gardner Public School showed up in the woods for a cheerleading surprise. Gin doesn’t know these ladies but their school is following her. It was just what she needed because a messed up quad made the last 4km barely possible.  [note to self; do not curse in blog as children are reading]. Gin ended the day in the good hands of dear friend Andrea.

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That’s all, Folks! This bunny better bop to bed.

Vicki

Watch out Bruce, it looks like Virginia has opened up a can of WHOOP-ASS!

Can you stand the drama?! Last night I was left wondering if she would be able to get up and pee in the middle of the night let alone run again …tears, doctors, lab work, self doubt.  By the end of today, videos are being sent as if it’s Spring Break on the Bruce — Pacer’s Gone Wild  with Gin in the middle doing body shots off…..ok, not quite but you catch my drift — a full 360 turn of events ending at the 607thkm.

How did that happen? It was reassuring to know that the electrolyte results from the lab gleaned that her body was still on board. But most importantly, she woke up refreshed and with a new attitude. Her goal all day was to not focus on the kilometer number but to simply focus on the feel-good feeling she was having. The psychology of running plays an intricate roll in how and when you cross that finish line. Your body can withstand almost anything. It’s your mind that you have to convince”

Well her mind was more than convinced. It was on celebration mode all day, all thanks to the Party Pacers; Steve Hunter, Greg Yaneff, Richard Ehrlick (Cpt. Barb’s husband), Lisa Lightborn-Lay, Captain Colleen and Cathy Gallagher. Cathy showed up earlier than expected which was an extra special treat. Greg could have come earlier yesterday when Gin needed him most but it was his 24th wedding anniversary and he said he really wanted a 25th— a wise, wise man.

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The heart warming moment of the day was when Cathy’s high school student, 15yo Jake,  gave her a baggy full of

twoonies and loonies and asked her to give them to Gin’s good cause. So sweet! As of today the Virginia vs Bruce challenge has raised almost $12000.00  Tell everyone you know. We want to keep those baggies coming.

Not only did she run 60.6km. She did a 2000 meter elevation gain and a 1700 meter elevation loss — translation; a poopload of hills. For the last Pacers Gone Wild video, Richard Ehrlich does it high speed —note: No roots or rocks were injured in the making of this video…

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Gin ended the day being pampered at the cozy home of Cathy & Barry MacDonald. Last night I felt sorry for her and tonight I am jealous! She was having a bubblebath as I spoke with her. But she had to cut me off when Colleen showed up with a gourmet meal on a tray. Great! Gin will be expecting this from Ray every night when she gets home.

This ends chapter #9 of this unfolding drama. Who would have thought a little jog in the woods would be so exhausting to watch … and blog. I’m totally sucked into it all day anticipating each update and then I’m up to the wee hours trying to spit it all back to you [pity song playing].  My husband now needs to give me salt pills, change my finger blister bandages and fill up my camelback before he goes to bed. If I don’t start getting some zzzz’s soon he’ll find me one morning banging my head off of the laptop screen moaning “Laces out Ginnie! Laces out!” (get it, Ace Ventura— see, not funny, I’m losing it) —hope my 5am bloodwork turns out OK.

Can’t wait to do it all again tomorrow. Go Gin Go!!

Night Night

Vicki

Five hundred & forty six kilometers covered in eight days!!!

Before I share all the details, I want to you to understand two things;  A) how stubborn my little sister can be and B)the fact that endurance/ultra-running is not as ‘crazy’ as you think.

When Virginia & Ray announced to our family that she was planning to run 890km in 2 weeks we were flabbergasted. Dad & Mom’s (Don & Margaret-Anne Cann) encouragement & uncountable parent taxi miles, played a significant role in Gin’s school athletic awards & scholarships. No one is “self made” (read Malcom Gladwell’s, Outliers). But this endeavor was over the top. They were honest & told Gin how apprehensive they were about the whole thing. There was no changing Virginia’s mind. Of course, Dad & Mom are currently home in Cape Breton cheering her on like we all are. But I know they are beside themselves with worry.

Virginia has always had a mind of her own and is driven like no one I know.  When Velma & I started getting money from the Tooth fairy, three year old Virginia started prematurely wiggling and pulling on her own baby teeth. I’m sure she would have been successful if it wasn’t for the piano stool that I dropped on her foot. Ouch! After her big toenail had blackened & fallen off, Dad & Mom helped her put it under pillow her pillow. Low & behold the Toenail Fairy came and gave her a $2 bill!!! (the going rate for a tooth was 25cents).  [Double take from all the marathon runners reading this –Say Whaa? There’s a Toe Nail Fairy, I could be rich!]

As I spread the news of Gin’s 890km fundraising mission, nine out of ten people respond with “She’s CRAZY!”. I myself have called her ‘crazy’ and I’m a well-educated nursing professional, sensitive to mental health stigmas. Yes, there are only 3 people (1 woman) who have completed the Bruce Trail in  under 14 days. I researched this phenomenon closer and discovered that ultrarunning is not as crazy as one might think. The book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall helps you understand the science and history behind endurance running.  You learn about the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico who have maintained this lost art, allowing them to run hundreds of miles nonstop to chase down their supper. He makes you realize that our bodies are capable of more than we can imagine. You are left wondering, at what point we, as a society, decided that running is ‘unnatural’?  Just read the book. It’s fascinating.

Ok. Back to Day 8. As the crew texted the pictures to me, I could tell she was having a good day with a funlooking crew (Barb Campbell, Colleen Braightwaite, Chris Laughren, David Varty, Caitlin Foisy & Steve Hunter).  Early afternoon trainer Cathy emailed to say that she & husband Ray were trying to line up a consultation with a medical doctor for the end of the day. It was a comforting to know that they were being cautious amidst all our cheerleading.

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The end of the day video was a little unsettling.

At  9pm ER doctor, Dr. Neal (a marathoner himself) assessed her followed by a second chiropractic treatment by Dr. Julie. When she called me I knew she must be at an all time low. This was her first call to me.  I knew she would call me at her lowest (she would worry Velma couldn’t bare it… again, 15 years later). She sounded mentally depleted as she shared the doctor’s recommendations. The weight gain is indicative of fluid retention. He wasn’t overly concerned but said it would be wise to have bloodwork done to assess her kidney function etc. He recommended extra rest and not to rush back on to the trail. In the end, he left it up to her to decide.  Through the self-doubting she was able to joke about how pathetic she looked the last leg of the day, “…they say you should dance as if no one is watching, well I was running as if no one was watching”.      I’m so glad her best friend Colleen is there with her tonight.

…I then sent a quick email to Cathy to see what page she was on and she responded;

I just am back and forth with Ray. Her health is the utmost importance right now. I think she has hit the wall and needs complete rest right now before she makes any decisions. I don’t want her making any major decisions before she is well rested and of clear mind. I would like her to call me in the morning I need to talk to her. She is getting blood work done 5 am then will rest some is what I want and hope. Cathy

 Dad & Mom, Virginia is in good hands.

Tomorrow is a new day. Stay tuned….

Vicki

P.S.  As the intensity grows, this blog seems to be getting longer.  I know there are those out there who would appreciate even more detail. Here is Captain Barb Campbell’s end of the day report to me;

Hi Vicki,
Well, after a day with so many highs, I guess we were due for a few lows. But first, the highs! Virginia’s best friend Colleen Braithwaite flew in from Alberta lastnight to share trail captain duties with me before she takes over tomorrow. What a boost for Gin! I was so happy to have a partner in crime after a day of crazy multitasking – navigating over 100 km on quiet dirt roads, setting up aid stations with tight deadlines, buying food, mixing up electrolyte drink, coordinating media interviews, taking photos, shuttling pacers, answering texts, answering emails and answering the phone. All that on 3 hours of sleep, two nights in a row.
We sensed early on that Virginia would need an extra boost of energy. David Varty ran with her all day. We sent Colleen out with her for two hours and arranged for Caitlin Foisy to surprise her for an early
afternoon shift of pacing. Chris Laughren arrived after lunch with a small Hallowe’en wig collection. As he ran along, he would quietly change wigs and wait for Virginia to notice. It took him awhile to realize why passers by gave him such funny looks! Steve Hunter apparently didn’t think his all-day pacing assignment for tomorrow would be sufficient exercise so he came out after work and ran backwards along the trail until he found Virginia and her crew. Lots of support, smiles and hugs from the team today – so very much appreciated. There were low times too. When Colleen and I cheered Virginia in shortly after she passed the 500 km mark (that’s right, 500!!), she was in tears from a new pain that had flared up. In case you’re wondering, the old pains are still there – especially the tendon on the front of her right foot that makes the downhills excruciating. You know you’re a real ultrarunner when you look forward to uphills and dread the downhills!
At the end of the day, there were a few more tears as the enormity of her task briefly overwhelmed her. After eight long days on the trail, it was a good time for Virginia to take an easier day to recover a little. She started after sunrise, finished before sunset and arrived before 8 p.m. at the MacDonalds’ beautiful home in Hockley Valley, having run “only” 54 km (that’s 12 km more than a marathon!).She finished the day with house call appointments with a physician and a chiropractor before heading to bed early. Tomorrow is a new day and she will feel so refreshed after this longer rest.
Take care,
Barb

How do you tell a cow to get out of the way?

Answer:  Moooo-ve over ‘cuz the Ginster is coming through!!!

Day seven was another big day ending at the 492nd kilometer. She is more than half way there!! First I’ll start with a video that I forgot to add  from yesterday, Day #7….

Here is a video from this morning…

Below is the email I received from Captain Barb Campbell at the end of the day.

Hi Vicki,

What an exciting day! Virginia set off in the dark into Duncan Crevice
Caves Provincial Nature Reserve, accompanied by her all-day pacer, Greg
Yaneff, and Denise Rispolie, her Day 6 captain.

We were met in mid-morning by John, a reporter from the Collingwood
Connection who interviewed Virginia. Denise headed for home where she
has 10-month-old twins and a 3-year-old waiting! (Probably very similar
to being a trail captain on a Bruce Trail Run.) Christina Blackley, who
had paced Virginia earlier in the run, showed up at 10 a.m. to run “20 km”.

At noon, as Virginia caught her first glimpse of beautiful Georgian Bay
from Blue Mountain, Julie and Amanda of Rogers Television joined us for
a fun session including a 10-minute interview, which Virginia totally
rocked! We all had fun, including the reporters.

In mid-afternoon, there was a trail re-route that Virginia wasn’t
looking forward to. Instead of a 2 km trail through the woods, closed
due to a rickety foot bridge, she would have to do long road run around
a block of land, adding 3 km to her Bruce Trail run. Well, that re-route
ended up adding lots of fun to her day! As I was setting up an aid
station at the corner of two roads, a mountain biker, Joe, rode up and
we started chatting. He ended up riding most of the way to the next aid
station with Virginia, Greg and Christina, and they had a great time.

But that wasn’t all. I set up that aid station at the entrance to an ATV
trail blocked by two rocks. Just as I saw the runners approaching, a man
arrived on a front end loader and asked me to move since I was on
private property and he wanted to move the rocks. He was totally right
but I only had 60 seconds until the runners arrived so I quickly
explained my plight and asked if he could be tempted to wait 10 minutes
in exchange for a buttertart. “Is it homemade?” “Ravenna General Store.”
“Same thing!”, he smiled. Kevin, who looked like Jon Bon Jovi, jumped
off to shake Virginia’s hand and hear more about what she was doing.
Before we left, Virginia insisted on a photo with him on the front end
loader, in honour of her Dad.

Just a few kilometers later was the highlight of the day. Ray brought
Virginia’s sons to say hello! She had been a little worried that she
might not want to keep going if she saw them but after lots of hugs and
happy tears, the boys cheered for Mommy to keep running fast. As soon as
they were gone, they asked me if there were any good snacks in her
cooler. 🙂

Greg was a force of pure energy and joy from start to finish of this
15-hour day. He cracked jokes, took photos, sang songs and even danced a
little. Christina had planned to run for a few hours between 10 a.m. and
2 p.m. She, Virginia and Greg were having such a great time that she
ended up sticking around until the bitter end at 9:10 p.m.! The last few
times they arrived at aid stations, I could hear their music and laughs
before I could see them. Their last aid station, as the sun set at 64
km, was honestly their most energetic and excited break of the day.

We made it through some really gnarly sections that had worried Virginia
after her tough 3-day test run. There was always something going on
today that kept the energy high. We’re really proud of what she pulled
off today!

Take care,
Barb

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Captain Barb Campbell

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Pacers Greg Yaneff & Christina Blackley

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The interviewer 

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Gin reported that Greg Yaneff was a 54 year old rock star… must be, ‘cuz Gin looks like a drunk’n groupie in this photo

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Front end loader guy.

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Husband Ray shaking hands with all the hot men Gin comes out of the woods with — the only thing hotter—Ray !

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Best sight for sore eyes!!! Gin’s boys.

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Julien (6yo) & Ray-Ray (7yo)

I’ll sign off with the end of the day video and the video when Gin met the boys — which was for sure the highlight of her day.