Langley Hospice Society’s Shannon Todd Booth and Wendy Sashikata have been training for a few weeks. They’re among an anticipated 600 participating in this year’s Historic Half Marathon happening Sunday in Fort Langley to aid the local hospice. (Special to the Langley Advance)

Runners get on their mark to aid Langley hospice

The Historic Half Marathon in Fort Langley Sunday raises coin to ensure ongoing free grief services.

Rather than simply cutting a cheque, a lot of people like to help charities by doing… by being active… and by physically engaging in projects that give back to their community.

Knowing all about this, first hand, Shannon Todd Booth was psyched when Langley Hospice Society was approached a little more than a year ago to be part of Try Event’s annual Historic Half Marathon.

It was a month before the 12th annual event, and having never been involved in a run before, she confessed to not having the foggiest idea what was involved in the actual race.

She did, however, recognized that some key components of any event are the same or similar. So, despite some personal trepidation, she and the hospice team quickly climbed aboard.

They brought out what she calls their small but “real fabulous army of volunteers” and made a significant contribution at various work stations on race day.

They not only helped pull it off, they had a great time pitching in and learning lots about different aspects of the event. And, despite what Todd Booth described as “inclement” weather, they all had a “blast.”

Asked if they’d do it again, the decision was swift and unanimous – Yes, Todd Booth said. They were willing to not only help in advance, to fundraise, and to have a “trusted crew of dedicated volunteers” available on race day… they also wanted to field a team for this year’s Historic Half Marathon – happening this Sunday morning in Fort Langley.

So that’s what they’ve done.

Their team is being headed up by Todd Booth, the hospice fundraiser, as well as child and youth bereavement coordinator Wendy Sashikata.

“I’ve never, in my life, been a runner,” Todd Booth said, but she’s game to try.

She’s played soccer, she’s a self-proclaimed gym rat, she’s cycled, and she always enjoys walking and hiking.

But running… well Todd Booth isn’t really looking forward to this race, as much as she’s looking forward to it being over. She’s looking forward to crossing the finish line and rejoicing in the fulfillment that she completed the “adventure.”

She’s been training on a treadmill at Newlands since January, and realized just last Friday that it hasn’t been enough.

She was hoping to run the five-km with Sashikata, who is a coworker and established runner.

But hitting the streets last week to run for the first time with Sashikata, Todd Booth quickly realized she’s nowhere near ready.

“Reality kind of hit me,” she said.

So instead, the 48-year-old is expecting to alternate between two minutes of walking and two minutes of running on Sunday, confident she can finish the course in the allotted maximum time of three hours.

“I’m going to do whatever I can… I don’t think I’ll be too bad. Finishing will be my goal, and I believe I can do that,” she said, optimistic but somewhat unconvincing.

“Wendy will complete the five-km run, for sure. I’ll just be the one chasing her.”

Even if Todd Booth can’t keep up to Sashikata, she won’t be alone out there. They have half a dozen or more people signed up for the hospice team.

“I’m going to be in good company, with some of the volunteers who are participating,” she said, pointing to another newbie runner, Shawn Siak – who a volunteer on the new hospice residence fundraising committee – as well as Dave Turner, a volunteer at their Second Story Treasures Thrift Store in Walnut Grove and “the guy” always playing the keyboard at the hospice garden parties.

“They’ll take care of me,” Todd Booth said, somewhat hopeful.

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Bigger attendance expected

Last year there were 519 runners who participated in the Historic Half Marathon – both young and old.

This year, the number is being capped at 600 – and as of Wednesday, organizers said they were “very close” to reaching that number.

There is no on-site registration is permitted the day of the race, and online registration has closed.

But in-person registration is still possible in the days leading up to the race.

Runners and walkers alike can register at Kintec (next to the Twin Rinks on the Langley Bypass) on Friday, Feb. 16, from 3 to 7 p.m., or on Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The run, which again starts and ends at the Fort Langley National Historic Site, begins later then ever before.

The half-marathon starts at 9 a.m., instead of the previous 8 a.m. time slot, to accommodate more of the out-of-town participants, Todd Booth explained.

It will be followed shortly thereafter by the start of the five- and 10-km runs and walks. And there will also be the popular kids run being held inside the walls of the national historic site around noon.

Sadly, Todd Booth noted, the forecast isn’t looking “too great” for this year’s marathon, recalling that last year was “wet, cold, and miserable.”

But weather, she said, doesn’t really seem to deter most of these die-hard runners.

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Expect traffic delays

Once again, drivers in the area should be aware of the race, and be advised that traffic will be delayed as runners fill the sides of the major roads such as Glover, River and Armstrong Roads, Rawlison Crescent, and 72nd Avenue during the morning hours.

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Raising money for the grieving

Try Events hosts a variety of runs each year throughout the Lower Mainland, including this one in Langley, as well as others in Vancouver, White Rock, and Burnaby.

All of their events have a charity component.

In this case, it’s Langley Hospice that will be the beneficiary, and Todd Booth is grateful for another opportunity to partner with organizations in the community, and get word out about what hospice has provided during the past 25 years, and what it continues to provide in the way of services and support.

In addition to generating awareness about the Langley Hospice Society, this year’s run will also raise money for the free bereavement support programs offered for adults and children alike in Langley.

“We’re hopeful it will be in the thousands of dollars,” Todd Booth noted. But that depends on pledges gathered, on-site and online donations made.

The local hospice sees more than 5,000 people a year who access information, attend meetings, or participate in one-on-one or group sessions to help them with grief.

For more information about the marathon, people can visit tryevents.ca, go online to langleyhospice.com, or email info@langleyhospice.com.

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