Gusty winds and heavy rains greeted Carol Burk when she seeded herself at the starting line of Woody’s RV World Marathon last weekend.
For a first-time marathoner, the conditions were not ideal.
But the Olds runner had only one thing on her mind.
“I was going to do it no matter what,” said Burk.
Burk’s goal to run 42.2k was a few years in the making. The 65-year-old took up running 15 years ago to raise money for cancer research after her father was diagnosed with cancer.
She ran the Terry Fox Run in Olds and has not stopped lacing up her sneakers.
Burk typically runs three 10K races every year. An avid fitness buff, the grandmother of four had been going to boot camp classes three days a week for seven years.
Her friends in boot camp were runners and a few had run marathons. A few years ago, she got it in her mind that she would run a marathon.
“You know what, I am going to do one,” said Burk. “I am going to do one when I am 65.”
Of course her family and friends thought she was “crazy,” laughed Burk.
This past January, however, the 65-year-old registered for the Woody’s marathon and her training officially got underway. She drove to Red Deer three days a week to train with instructor Claire DeRepentigny’s marathon group at the Running Room.
The training went mostly smoothly, said Burk, a Chartwells Food Services cashier supervisor at Olds College.
But there was one minor hiccup in her training.
Four weeks before the race, she tripped and fell on a training run.
She was taken by ambulance to the hospital to be treated for a broken nose.
“They had to take all the gravel out of my face and give me a shot,” said Burk. “It hurt but I was back training (four days after the fall) … If I have something in my mind to do something I am going to do it.”
Hoping for cool weather on race day, Burk was worried the heat would get the best of her.
She knew it would be a tough slog with the rain and wind but Burk was determined.
“A couple times I thought I didn’t know if my hips would hold out,” said Burk. “I ended up having to walk a little bit because my of hip. It could have been due to the damp weather. Of course at my age there’s a little arthritis. I got myself going again.
I was just bound and determined to make it. I am quite strong mentally and I was going to keep going through the rain.”
Burk finished in 5 hours and 36 minutes and change, good enough for 154 th place out of 159 runners. It was a little slower then what she would have liked but Burk was thrilled with her accomplishment.
“I got quite emotional when I saw my whole family waiting for me,” she said. “To have my family waiting for me meant so much to me.”
She said it was wonderful to have the support from her family and friends.
“At the end of the line I was really lucky,” she said. “I had all my family was there to greet me. That just really made my day because I came in frozen, chilled right to the bone.”
The marathon is tough on your body, said Burk.
“It is as much mentally as it is physically, which I had heard. I am not going to stop. That’s for sure. I don’t know if I will ever to do another marathon but I am going to keep running because I absolutely love running.”
Find Running with Rhyno on Facebook and @CrystalRhyno on Twitter and Instagram. Send your column ideas, photos and stories to email@example.com.