Local police officer strikes gold

Cathy Kowal, a local First Nations police officer, proved she had what it takes to compete against some of the fittest officers and firefighters after earning a gold medal at the World Police and Firefighter Games earlier this month.
Kowal, along with her partner, Fort Frances OPP Cst. Mike Golding, both competed in the half-marathon event at the games, which were held June 13-18 in Indianapolis, Ind.
The pair arrived there June 13, and Kowal was shocked by the scale of the event.
“It’s considered the largest athletic event next to the Olympics. There were 6,000 competitors in 350 events,” she noted. “There was everything from darts to running to wrestling to anything else related to police and fire work.
“I was just amazed to meet all the other police officers and fire officials and trade war stories,” noted Golding, adding he met an old buddy from Calgary whom he used to wrestle at the University of Alberta.
Kowal and Golding stepped up training for the half-marathon since they registered in February. “I was running 10-15 km every couple days. it was going well until my hip gave out,” said Golding.
“Fortunately, they had a polyclinic there, with chiropractic and massage services, which were great. And it was free.”
After spending two days to adjust to hot weather, the time to be put to the test came June 15. “When we started the marathon at 7 a.m., it was 32 C [90 F]. And if it was any hotter that morning, they were going to cancel it,” noted Kowal.
The 21-km race saw 300 runners of a wide range of ages and both genders hit the street for competition. But Kowal said all the training paid off when she finished the course at one hour and 49 minutes.
“Considering the weather, that was pretty good,” she said.
The time brought her a gold medal for the 25-30 year-old division. Five other gold medals were given out to various age categories from 20 to retirees. The average finish time was two to two-and-a-half hours.
“I’m very proud of her. She represented Manitou Rapids very proudly,” noted Golding.
Golding, who was competing in the 30-35-year-old category, finished at two hours and 20 minutes. “It was a personal challenge for me to finish the race. If you’ve seen me, I’m not exactly built for speed,” he chuckled.
“The route went to a centre point so you would go one way and then turn around come back,” he added. “I wound up seeing some of the other officers running past me twice. We exchanged high-fives.”
As for the games itself, Kowal was impressed just to be able to take in the sights and the sounds in her spare time there. “It was unbelievable–all the people and the different events,” she enthused.
“It was so well-organized. When we arrived, we were given I.D. badges, and a package with all sorts of stuff, like a shirt and an umbrella,” noted Kowal.
“The badges let you watch any of the events going on. We watched wrestling, boxing, basketball, among other events.”
The pair returned here last Wednesday. “But we’re going to go again,” added Golding, referring to the 2003 games coming up in Barcelona, Spain.
Kowal previously ran for a good cause at a fundraiser marathon for arthritis at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. in January, finishing 185th out of 740 runners.
She then brought along four Rainy River First Nations youths to the ninth-annual “Run for the Meatball” fun run in Thunder Bay this past spring.