For Deborah Meaney, getting ready for the Woody’s Marathon has been a mental escape from the Fort McMurray forest fire she and 80,000 fled.
With family in Red Deer, she’s stayed with them while Fort McMurray has been evacuated. She said the fire came pretty close to her home, but from what she’s been able to gather it is safe for now.
Meaney has run in Woody’s before and she’s determined to improve her time in the 10 km run.
“Last year when I ran, I could barely run a minute at a time. I had bad shin splints,” she said. “This year I don’t have any pain in my legs, I can run four or five minutes at a time and only have to rest for 30 seconds instead of walking for four or five minutes. It’s definitely been a big change.
“I actually enjoy running now. I’ve been calling it my medicine the past few weeks.”
Since July, she has shed 50 pounds. Always being active, Meaney has been involved in running, zumba, yoga and swimming. She’s run the event before, but trying to lose weight she needed a goal to work towards this year and she eyed the Woody’s RV World Marathon/Half/10K.
“I’m not a pro by any means,” she said. “I just want to prove to myself that I’m worth it, that I’m strong. If I can get through the fire and the run and live to tell about it, I can get through anything.”
She’s used the event and the preparation to escape the doom and gloom that has surrounded Fort McMurray as the wildfire rolled through the city.
That day, Meaney was sent home from work at about 1:15 p.m. when her boss told her to pack up and get out of town. Home by 1:30 p.m., she had to wake her husband Jeff up, who works a night shift. They picked up their two girls, aged six and eight, and ran back home. The girls were told they could grab one stuffed animal each, Meaney said they were very scared and in tears. She and her husband stood in the doorway of their house and hugged each other, knowing this could be the last time they saw their home. Meaney left in her car with the cat and a few possessions while the girls got into Jeff’s welding truck.
“We made it down to the hospital and we could see the flames were right at the road,” said Meaney. “The traffic was just at a halt, so we turned around and spent the night at Albian Sands camp.”
Meaney and her family, with their cat in tow, bunked in a room with a double bed.
At 5 a.m. the next morning, the family awoke and left for their family in Red Deer. With no gas to fuel up until Athabasca, the family was held up in traffic for four hours and down to fumes. A man drove by and gave her 10 litres of gas. Other people were going back and forth offering bottled water, but all her kids had to eat was a few crackers Meaney had grabbed.
They made it to Athabasca and got a free meal from a restaurant. They left behind Jeff’s welding truck and piled into the car.
They didn’t arrive in Red Deer until 10 p.m.
At the marathon on Sunday, she’s hoping to run the 10 km in an hour and 15 minutes. The two girls are entered into the one km run, their first events.
The marathon starts at 8 a.m. with the full and half runners going. The 10 km event starts at 7:45 a.m. and the kids start their race at 10:30 a.m.