South Surrey residents Colleen and Danielle Boyle

Mother-daughter team collect shoes in advance of marathon

South Surrey neighbours rally to support Cambodian shoe-donation initiative.

Training for any long-distance run – be it a half-marathon, marathon or something even longer – usually takes weeks, if not months, of careful planning.

A training schedule is mapped out, and daily runs of varying lengths are completed, all with an eye towards being in peak condition by race day.

The decision to run such a race is rarely made in haste.

And while it may not be exactly fair to call Colleen Boyle and her daughter Danielle’s upcoming run a spur-of-the-moment decision, it was done with a certain urgency in mind.

After graduating from the University of Victoria with a bachelor of science degree in April, Danielle, 23, decided she wanted to run her first half-marathon.

“After she graduated, it was one of her bucket-list things, to run one by the end of the year,” explained Colleen, 55, an experienced runner who planned to participate alongside her daughter in whatever run the pair chose.

Danielle was also planning a backpacking trip to Asia, however, and as happens when trying to juggle multiple goals, one often falls by the wayside.

“We kind of ran out of time (planning the run), but then, even though we’re running out of time, I just thought it would be cool to run over there (in Asia),” Colleen explained.

A quick Internet search turned up a perfect way for the Boyles to kill two birds with one stone – the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon set for Dec. 4, one day after Danielle was already scheduled to arrive in Cambodia.

The event also serves as a fundraiser to help the country’s victims of land mines – a legacy left by decades of war in the Southeast Asian country.

“It just looked like a really good cause,” Colleen said.

Aside from their entry fees being donated to the cause, Colleen quickly realized there was another way to help – by bringing shoes with them to donate to Cambodians.

And she enlisted residents of her Summerfield neighbourhood – in South Surrey, between the city’s two border crossings – to help.

On the Summerfield neighbourhood Facebook page, Colleen wrote a quick post explaining what she and Danielle were planning to do, and told her neighbours that, if they had any gently worn running shoes they’d like to donate, she’d put a bin outside her front door.

“Within 24 hours, that bin was overflowing,” she said.

“People were so generous – we have a whole suitcase full, and I think I’ll be able to fill a second suitcase, too. It was really cool to see the whole neighbourhood rally together.”

The Boyles plan to bring the shoes with them on race day, handing them out to whoever needs them. Many Cambodians take part in the half-marathon, Colleen said, and the event is free to enter for citizens of the country.

“There are going to be locals running in the race as well and they might not even have shoes to run in,” she said. “We’re really, really excited.”

The run itself is a distance Colleen figures she’ll be able to handle. She has 10 marathons, “a bunch” of half-marathons and even five Ironman Triathlons under her belt in the last 15 years; she took up running at 40, as something of a “mental health” exercise, she said.

“I was a late bloomer.”

Her leap from marathons to Ironman competitions – which includes a 3.8-km swim and 180-km bike ride in addition to a 42.2-km run – came in part as a result of watching Ironman World Championships in her 20s, when she lived for a time in Hawaii.

“I used to see people doing the Ironman and was always in awe of them, thinking it was so crazy,” she said. “But I started running by taking a few (clinics) at the Running Room. I learned how to run a marathon, then graduated into swimming, then riding a bike and it all progressed from there.”

Danielle, too, has experience with distance running, though in a more informal setting. During her mom’s Ironman competitions, Colleen explained, her daughter often served as her mom’s pace-runner during the marathon portion of the event, running alongside her for long stretches.

“She’d keep me going,” Colleen said.

The challenge of December’s race will be twofold, Colleen said. For starters, the temperature in Angkor Wat will be far warmer than what the pair are used to running in, and secondly, they’ll have arrived just 24 hours prior to taking off from the start line.

“There might be a bad combination of the jet lag and the heat, but that’s OK – it’ll be fun.”

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