“There are a few things that make this run unique,” explained JLB Memorial Kettle River Run organizer Stephanie Boltz. “The river trail makes it unique and the mountain trail makes it very unique. That the run is held on a Saturday rather than a Sunday is also distinctive.”
What happens to the funds raised by the event is what really makes it extraordinary, though.
The Midway Public Library gets the money from run registrations; the pledges and donations raised by the runners are given to the BC Cancer Foundation of the Southern Interior to help cancer patients from the Boundary meet the costs of their care.
This was the 5th annual run and was dedicated to Fran Elliott, a long-time resident and active volunteer in Midway.
The Midway Public Library and the Boltz family started the run to help individuals and families that have been victims of cancer. When Stephanie’s husband and long-time Boundary resident John lost his fight with cancer, the Boltz family came to understand the needs associated with cancer diagnosis and treatment.
“I think Dad would be happy with what we’ve done here in the last five years,” said John and Stephanie’s daughter Chris, whose husband Sam and their family all flew back from Cairo for the run.
“The money we have raised. When it comes down to it there’s a lot of people out there who can’t afford their own care when it comes to cancer—there’s medication, nutrition, food, transportation, chemo, etc. My dad was self-employed and didn’t have benefits from work—he didn’t have all of that so they used up all their savings to help him through his treatment.
“This is what we try to do. We try to raise money and the money we have raised over the years actually has a face and a name— it’s helped out someone who couldn’t afford medication.
“There is research yes,” Chris said, “but there are people in actual need right now. The Canadian healthcare helps out, but there is just the little things that people can’t afford when they go through it.”
The community has embraced the run, which each year attracts upwards of 100 runners. The library, where Stephanie served as director for many years, continues to play a key role in organizing the event. The Midway Hiking and
Biking Trails Society grooms the Riverwalk and Mountain trails and provides volunteer support. Copper Mountain Flagging Company provides equipment and labour too. The Kelowna Running Club supports the run by donating their timing equipment and finish line flags. Kerstin Kleinhempel donated all of the water and Gatorade for the runners, as well as doing the accounting for the run.
Many other contributors are listed on the run website at midwaylibrary.bc.ca With 5k, 10k and 21k loops to choose from, there is something for everyone. Stephanie’s sister, Lila Norton, comes from Grand Prairie, Alberta to participate in a 1k walk.
Calgarian runners Ben and Kari Elliott and their young family were staying at Christina Lake this week and had heard about the run on the Internet. “I think it is a really wonderful event that is going on because it involves the whole community in a really healthy way and for such a wonderful cause,” said Elliott adding, “for the library as well. We really wanted to be a part of it and we were close by so we just drove up for the day.
“What a beautiful course. This is just a fantastic location. The course was lovely and the weather was perfect.” Ben posted the best time in the 10k and Kari finished first in the 21k.
Stephanie said the number of competitors for the 21k (half marathon) is growing. “Two did it under two hours and one at the two-hour mark—up that gruelling hill. That is pretty awesome.”
At 92 years old, Paul Lautard was the oldest participant; and Tammi Wilson, herself facing Pick’s Disease, continues to show the rest of the world how to live life to the fullest and with passion by completing the 5k. Like Tammi, many runners wrote names of family and friends who have battled cancer on the backs of their run T-shirts.
“The Kelowna running club participants said that they come back because they are treated like family and that the course is excellent,” Stephanie said. “The lady who came in second in the 21k said no one had told her it was a mountain trail; however, she didn’t even break a sweat. Coming back over the bridge she stopped quickly to pet a dog and finished with a smile on her face.”
Stephanie’s sister Noella Miller, herself a cancer survivor, did the 5k loop. “I would come here when John was ill and help my sister out as much as I could. This is my way to honour him and other family members who passed away from cancer.”
She is hopeful the care and nurturing from her immediate family that the JLB Memorial Kettle River Run has received over the past five years has solidly established the event in the West
Boundary. She said this was the last year she will place an expectation on her kids that they come to organize it. “They have given up two weeks of their holiday for the past five years to come and administer it.
Now it is going to depend on the community and the library.” Stephanie said she will help, “but I don’t think my family will be here to organize it.”
With the beautiful trails used in the run this event is becoming more popular every year. “The serious runners who come, who aren’t part of the family, are amazed—first by the trails, secondly with the organization of the run and thirdly with our community of Midway.”