Colleen Favre had two bib numbers with her when she crossed the Woody’s RV World Marathon and Half Marathon on Sunday.
One was her own yellow bib, No. 1237, taped on her waist.
The other, blue bib No. 1222, was one she proudly held up high as she crossed the finish line.
It was her son Michaud’s number used in the 2009 half-marathon, his first ever such race and what would be his last.
Michaud came in third in his age category, finishing the 21-km run in a remarkable one hour, 35 minutes.
He was a natural at sports, whether it was rugby, basketball or cross-country skiing.
“He inspired his friends to get involved in sports and to have fun,” said his mother.
When he wasn’t busy at play, he was apprenticing as a welder.
Tragically, Michaud’s life was cut short on Jan. 7. He ended up outside on a chilly night in a wooded area near Taylor Drive, dying of hypothermia. It was deemed an accidental death.
During an April community sports banquet, Michaud was honoured posthumously with Red Deer’s first ever Spirit of Sport Award in recognition of being such a great team player and leader.
The young athletic man and the life he led inspired 32 people to run in his memory. Dozens of others cheered on the Michaud Team as they approached the finish line, wearing T-shirts with big bold pink words saying, Can We Kick It?, in honour of a similar T-shirt Michaud once wore.
“It’s emotional,” said Tanner Newfield, 20, one of Michaud’s best friends. “I felt like he was running with me all the way.”
Newfield said he never would have considered running a half-marathon before.
It was the first such run for many on the team, including another best buddy of Michaud’s.
“It’s something we have been planning for a while,” said Tyler Landon, 20, of Red Deer. “It’s awesome — you get to run with all the other supporters and family.”
And the day brings back fond memories of his friend.
“He was the coolest dude ever,” Landon said. “Probably the funniest and most unique person I have ever met. He never said anything bad about anybody.”
Colleen, who ran in last year’s half-marathon as well, was joined by daughter Loie and husband Alain.
“I thought you could never pay me enough to run this race, but it was a good opportunity for everyone to get together,” said Michaud’s sister Loie, 22. “It is his birthday on the 27th (of May) so we wanted to do something around that time.”
Family and friends gathered on Sunday night for a chili cookoff, another tribute to Michaud who helped nab one of the top prizes in last year’s chili cookoff at Westerner Days.
The half-marathon and marathon drew more than 1,250 entrants.
Debbie Hope, in charge of the food tent and other finish areas, said just under 300 people came out to volunteer.
“It doesn’t matter what the weather is like, coffee seems to be the most important thing,” said Hope.
Among the volunteers were about 20 people from the Parkinson’s Society of Southern Alberta, which includes the Red Deer region. Marathon organizers in turn give $3,000 which society outreach co-ordinator Marilynne Herron said is used towards client services in the Red Deer area.