Cycling grannies complete 1,300-km relay to Winnipeg

Elsie McKinnon and Jo Maetche have recorded some impressive numbers. At 61- and 67-years-old respectively, the Red Deer grandmothers recently completed the cycling relay Hot Pursuit.

Red Deer grandmothers Jo Maetche

Red Deer grandmothers Jo Maetche

Elsie McKinnon and Jo Maetche have recorded some impressive numbers.

At 61- and 67-years-old respectively, the Red Deer grandmothers recently completed the cycling relay Hot Pursuit.

They teamed up with two other grandmothers from Calgary and, together, the four women cycled the more than 1,300-km from Calgary to Winnipeg in three-and-a-half days by taking turns sprinting for 10 km at speeds up to 30 km/h.“A lot of people were amazed that we would do this race at our age,” McKinnon said.

“It just goes to show you that your age doesn’t matter. If you really want to do something, you can do it.”But the number the women are most proud of is the more than $21,000 the four of them raised for the Mully Children’s Family, an orphanage in Kenya, Africa.

“It was for the long-term benefits that will be to the street kids in Kenya,” Maetche said of her reason for participating in the long-distance relay.

That sum, McKinnon added, will provide basic food needs for 210 orphaned and abandoned Kenyan children for an entire year.

She said the original goal was to raise $5,000.

“Well, of course, we passed five and then we thought for 10 and we just kept aiming,” McKinnon said, ultimately surpassing the last goal set: $20,000.The women were impressed also that they were able to lead the pack of competitors all the way to Brandon, Man.

It was only some 200 km from their final destination in Winnipeg that Arvid Loewen, an avid cyclist who spearheaded the fundraiser and who rode solo around the clock, and the five members of the Canadian Mennonite University relay team passed the women while they rested after the third day of their journey.

Loewen and the university team embarked from White Rock, B.C., on July 17, a day before the grandmothers left from Calgary, and Maetche admitted she thought the men would pass the grandmothers a day earlier than they did.The Winnipeg Police team, which also started in White Rock, bowed out of the race in Calgary due to illness and fatigue.The teams met along the Perimeter Hwy and, guided by a police escort, rode the final few kilometres to their final destination at the Manitoba Legislature.

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