Watch above: For the past six years, hundreds of people have ran in the Fallen Four Memorial Society Marathon in honour of four Mounties killed in the line of duty near Mayerthorpe. But after the shootings in Moncton this past week, Sunday’s marathon had a much different feel. Eric Szeto reports.
EDMONTON – Just days after three RCMP officers were killed in a shootout in Moncton, New Brunswick, those taking part in the Fallen Four Marathon north of Edmonton Sunday say the run had a much more emotional feel to it this year.
“I definitely feel it more. I try to make it an exciting event, but it does feel a little sombre to me coming here and thinking about what happened in Moncton,” says Cst. Fraser Bjornson, a Jasper RCMP officer who has ran the Fallen Four Marathon three times.
The annual 42-kilometre race makes it way from Mayerthorpe to Whitecourt. It’s a way for the community to come together to honour Constables Peter Schiemann, Leo Johnston, Anthony Gordon and Brock Myrol, who were tragically killed on March 3, 2005 while investigating a marijuana grow operation near Mayerthorpe.
Nine years later, the small town is healing, but the shooting in Moncton brings back heartbreaking memories for many who know all too well what the people in New Brunswick are going through.
“It seems unfair that there’s citizens in this society that have no respect for the lives of others. It’s terrible,” says Mayerthorpe Mayor Kate Patrick. “We’re gradually trying to overcome this, but when these new events happen it brings back all of the bad memories.
“This just opens all the wounds again.”
Prior to Sunday’s race, participants stopped for a minute of silence to not only honour and remember the Fallen Four, but the three men killed in Moncton on Wednesday.
“We’ll be running with heavier hearts this year,” says runner Louise Kennedy. “My husband works with the RCMP so it touches close to home.”
“It just became a lot more special in the last couple days,” adds fellow marathon participant Desiree Lockhart. “It makes it emotional and just all the more important as to why I chose (to run) in the first place.”
And as the community continues to heal, residents hope they will never again have to hear about another tragedy.
“All we can do is keep them in our hearts and hope that it never does happen again because it’s tragic,” says Lockhart.
In the past five years, the Fallen Four Marathon Society has donated over $157,000 back to the communities of Whitecourt and Mayerthorpe.
With files from Eric Szeto, Global News.
© Shaw Media, 2014