When a half marathon south of the border was cancelled, one Chilliwack trainer decided to bring her own 21-kilometre run to her team on the weekend.
Shelley Hatfield created the “San Juasn’t” half marathon after the 2020 San Juan Island Half in Washington State was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They have been training together for this over a year with me, some were walkers,” trainer Shelley Hatfield said. “This is a very big deal and also a huge disappointment as we were doing it as a trip as well.”
Despite the cancellation of the U.S. run the team, made up of six women plus Hatfield, continued to train leading up to the big day, May 16, which was the same day the San Juan Island Half was scheduled.
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the women used two-metre long pieces of pink rope to physically distance themselves. After several weeks, once they had a good feel for the distance, they ditched the ropes and soon they were ready for their first half marathon.
But it wasn’t just the race route Hatfield brought to her team on Saturday – which weaved through residential areas in Sardis, along the Vedder River, and past the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve – she went all out, bringing the full experience of a long-distance running event to them.
On May 16, the airhorn sounded and they were off. Hatfield was at the front on the lead bike, and her four runners dressed in tutus and bright colours were behind her. They ran it together as a team, even though only four of the six women were able to do the run that day.
Hatfield called on friends, neighbours and family to come cheer them on. The runners were bombarded with squirt guns and bubbles along the course, while others cheered, clapped, used noise-makers and shook pom-poms. There were even marathon bibs, several water and fuel stops, plus sponge stations.
Elite runners came out to support them while others dressed in dinosaur, unicorn and Storm Trooper costumes took part as well.
It was all a surprise to the four runners who smiled and cheered right back at the spectators.