If you were to scan the crowded start line at the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation’s annual Great Pumpkin Run/Walk this weekend, you’d no doubt see a varied group.
Some, of course, are there because it’s a chance to get out for a run, or a brisk walk; others are there because they’ve spent time in the hospital, or have had a relative or friend who have.
Then there are others who, considering it’s a Halloween-themed event, simply use the Pumpkin Run as a chance to dress up and get a little festive.
But most have something else in common – a desire to give back to a hospital that holds a dear place in their hearts.
“Well I don’t do it because I’m a fitness freak, that’s for sure,” said Norm Rutherford, who suffers from a heart condition called atrial fibrillation and will be participating in his second run this year.
“But I’ve probably been in the Peace Arch emergency room six times in the last 10 years, and each time, I’ve seen someone who has taken care of me. And now it’s my turn to take care of it – this is my way of giving back.”
Rutherford is far from the only one who feels that way – last year, an estimated 400 people took part in the event.
This year’s Pumpkin Run, which is set for Sunday, Oct. 23, has both one-kilometre and five-kilometre routes in the neighbourhood surrounding Peace Arch Hospital (15521 Russell Ave.).
Registration for the event begins at 7:45 a.m. Sunday, opening ceremonies are at 8:45 and the five-km walk begins at 9 a.m. Fifteen minutes later, the five-km run hits the streets, following by the one-km run/walk a few minutes after that.
Dan de Montreuil is another avid supporter of the hospital, as well as the annual run.
The 61-year-old Surrey resident has been part of Peace Arch Hospital’s cardiac rehab for the past 10 years, and has participated in the Pumpkin Run/Walk since its inception.
“And as long as they’ll have me, I’ll be here,” de Montreuil said Friday morning, shortly after finishing up his workout at the Centre for Active Living, where the rehab program is based.
De Montreuil, more than most, understands the importance of staying healthy. Ten years ago, he underwent a procedure to fix two blocked arteries in his heart – he now has a stent in one of them. And his heart problem would have likely gone undiagnosed, he says, had he not started to feel sluggish at 50.
Feeling a little less energetic than usual, de Montreuil began cycling to improve his health. After a few months, he began to feel pressure in his chest.
“It wasn’t pain, but I just felt something every time I’d go up a big hill, or really exert myself,” he said.
After a few months, his wife insisted he see a doctor, which is how his heart condition was discovered.
“If I hadn’t started riding my bicycle, I could’ve just one day been taking out the garbage, and then ended up lying on top of the garbage,” he said.
“The reason I participate (in the Pumpkin Run) is because this cardiac program is such a great program, and it’s helped me so much.
“The community is really, really lucky to have this hospital.”
As in past years, de Montreuil will be participating again Sunday, running the five-km route.
“And I hate it,” he laughed. “It’s a tough route – there’s a lot of hills.”
While the main focus of Sunday’s event is raising money for the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation – runners collect pledges, while others donate online at the run website – it does still get a little competitive.
Last year, Rutherford’s team of about a dozen participants – headed by Febe Galvez-Voth, who is in charge of marketing and communications for the PAHF – had a friendly challenge with another team, Jacob Bros. Construction, to see who could raise the most money.
“Last year we beat them and they had to serve us dinner,” laughed Rutherford.
“And they’re going to have to do it again, because we’re going to beat them this year, too.”
For more on the run, visit www.greatpumpkinrunwalk.com