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Better Winnipeg: New team joins WFPS Half Marathon for their dads

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Better Winnipeg: New team joins WFPS Half Marathon for their dads – Oct 13, 2016

WINNIPEG — A record number of participants will be lacing up Sunday for the annual Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) Half Marathon.

The annual event has raised over $175,000 in its first four years to support the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

A new team of runners will hit the course for the fifth anniversary race. The 16-member group called Legacy in Motion is motivated by the unexpected loss of their dads, who all died at a young age from a heart attack or stroke.

“The first run I did as a child was with my father so I feel that he’s running with me,” Joan Marks said.

“The hardest thing about losing a parent when they’re young is that they don’t meet your own children. So seeing a race that engages families of all ages, makes this race that much more special to me,” Marks said.

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“This group is doing something unbelievably special,” said Jonathan Torchia, the race director for the WFPS Half Marathon. “They’ll break through $10,000 just this one year themselves. It really is remarkable.”

RELATED: WFPS Half Marathon creator ran with an idea to make a difference

Torchia first came up with the idea of organizing a half marathon run in Winnipeg after his grandfather suddenly died from a stroke.

In its first year in 2012, the run attracted 1,600 participants. This year there are 3,216 runners registered for the half marathon, 10-kilometre and five-kilometre races.

“We’re pretty excited about the momentum that’s behind us going into this race,” Christa Walkden said.

She too is part of the Legacy in Motion team that is running in the event. Walkden has been going on training runs with her 10-year-old son who will also be participating this year.

“When I was 12 years old my dad died suddenly of a heart attack, so the connection to the heart and stroke foundation is really important to me,” Walkden said.

She’s moved to be part of a team that has a common thread woven through it.

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“I think the biggest tragedy is that all these fathers never got to meet their grandchildren,” Walkden said.

She not only wants to pay tribute to her dad by running in the event, Walkden also wants to teach her children about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.

“We are all plagued by bad heart history and bad genetics in our family and that’s just going to pass on in the generations. So teaching them the importance of healthy living, exercise and everything that the Heart and Stroke Foundation is about, is important to me.”

Walkden and Marks hope their Legacy in Motion team will grow even bigger next year.

“I’m so mind-blown how amazing this group of ladies are and men and kids that have come together,” Torchia said.

“To have that same vision and goal that we have as an event, it’s really sparked that fire in myself and the entire race committee.”

The start and finish line of the WFPS Half Marathon is by the Canadian Mennonite University at 500 Shaftesbury Boulevard.

For more information on the event and how you can get involved, go to wfpshalfmarathon.com.

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