Williams Lake siblings Ava and Eli Johnson showed impressive determination recently when they trained for and finished the Mad Moose Marathon 10-kilometre trail race in Prince George.
Held on the Otway trail network on Sunday, Sept. 20, the Johnsons joined their mom, Angie, in the race — billed the Mad Moose Calf.
Eli, 9, and Ava, 10, were two of about six kids who ran the 10-kilometre trail race in what turned out to be gruesome conditions, Angie said, after the children had poured their heart and soul into training for the event beginning in mid July.
“It was probably the worst running conditions I’ve seen,” Angie said. “Slippery, muddy, people falling down on the trail — just gross. It was pouring rain when we woke up.”
Angie said she spoke with both of her children prior to the race to make sure it was something they still wanted to do.
“I wanted them to enjoy their first run, and both of them said ‘nope: I want to run.'”
Both Eli and Ava said they were glad they chose to complete the race and are looking forward to their next event — the Kelowna Sun Marathon where they plan to run the 10-kilometre there, as well.
“They were just so happy, and then when they finished running they said they can’t wait for the next one,” Angie said.
Angie, Eli and Ava all got medals for the efforts, with Eli finishing third and Ava placing fourth in their age categories.
Eli and Ava said it was especially rewarding after waking up three days a week at 6 a.m. during the summer to train, and added they dedicated the race to their dad, Eric, after he recently underwent a hip replacement and was unable to train and run with the family.
“I had lots of fun with the training because I got to run with my family and, sometimes, I even ran by myself,” Eli said. “The run was exciting because that was my first 10 kilometres in my whole life. The run was super muddy and I loved it. I even fell down once in the mud, and … but I crossed the finish line and got a medal.”
Ava said she enjoyed training with her mom and brother and added she especially enjoyed being treated to some Starbucks at the end of each week for her commitment and dedication.
“It felt so good to cross the finish line because my dad and grandparents were there cheering us on,” Ava said. “I finished the race with a smile on my face and I’m looking forward to the next one. I just felt really proud, and it felt good.”
Angie, meanwhile, runs year round for recreation and said she hopes to keep running light, and fun for the kids.
And, next time, they all hope their dad will be able to join them out on the course.
“He hasn’t been able to run for three years so it was kind of special for us to be able to do this together,” Angie said.
“We’re already planning what our next summer will look like with dad joining us to train, too.”