Tie up your shoes and stretch those quads, one local woman is ready to bring running to the masses.
Lori Leduc is a relatively new resident, most recently from Red Deer, Alta., who moved to town to be closer to her family, and in doing so has brought her years of running and coaching experience to both the United Native Friendship Centre (UNFC) and the general public at large.
“I got a job at UNFC as the healthy activity worker, that's for youth, and running is one of my specialties,” Leduc explained.
“I was a national level runner and was on team Canada for age group triathlon. So I have a lot of experience and I came here because my family is here.”
Like any person with a passion, once Leduc arrived in town, she set about finding a way to use her skills to better the community. That's when she settled upon finding a way to set up a community running club, in addition to a kids club at the UNFC, which is something she said she's had practice with.
“I've started run clubs usually wherever I go,” she explained.
“My run club in Red Deer was about 60 people every Sunday. This club will be once a week, and then for the people who want to go racing, we'll probably meet another time or two. It's what I like to do, so I'll offer it to the community one day a week and then for the kids they'll have extra training in the week.”
The end goal, she explained, is to have a core group who want to learn to run for fun and fitness, as well as a competitive group that she can take to races and other events.
“Eventually when cross country season starts we'll be an avid community run club by next year and we can enter as the Fort Frances Open Run club,” Leduc said.
“You see it a lot in other places in Canada. You have a community run a club and you always have a school club.”
Leduc said over the next week she will only host an informal drop-in running club, but has set September 21 as the first day the community running club will meet.
Her focus for the kids group at the UNFC is along similar lines, but in keeping with the values of the centre, Leduc said she always strives to incorporate the Indigenous culture into their sessions.
“We have culture basically every time we run,” she noted.
“We're out near the water all summer and we learned about fish. I'm teaching them stuff. It's important to bring the culture into it. We have Ed Atatise, he's going to meet us and we're going to do plant identification and identification of natural foliage that will create medicines.”
The running club has an extra benefit for many of the kids she works with as well.
“They're all basically hockey players, but they're well-rounded athletes,” she said with a laugh.
“I know how to train them, I don't know anything about the game.”
There are also plans in place to have her kids take part in snowshoeing and cross-country skiing at Rocky Inlet, which can also offer up other opportunities for competitions.
At one point earlier this year, Leduc said she was hoping to put on a community race for her group of kids and any other athletes and runners in town ,and had begun to seek out sponsorship and support from the community, but as theCOVID-19 pandemic began shutting down other large scale public events, so too was Leduc forced to shelf her plans for now.
“I had support for it when I first started, but then with everything...” Leduc said, indicating the pandemic.
“Sarah at the Rendez-Vous was going to help sponsor, and we had someone to do warm ups, but it will happen.”
For now, Leduc said she's planning on having her kids running group take part in a virtual Terry Fox run later this month in order to celebrate the hard work they've done running over the past few months.
“These kids are dedicated and they need to be recognized,” she said.
“They've increased their fitness level by 20 percent since they started, so I'm planning to have a Terry Fox team that will participate on Sept. 20 at 10:00 a.m.”
Anyone who is interested in taking part in Leduc's running club is encouraged to contact her through Facebook