(Above) Colwood resident Dawn Christenson finishes the 2014 Charlottetown, PEI marathon. (Below) Christenson competes in her first marathon in Victoria in 2008 with running coach Mark Cryderman. Photos contributed

10 marathons, 10 provinces, 10 years? No problem!

Local woman to complete 10-year quest to complete a marathon in each province

After scratching that first marathon – or half-marathon, 10K or 5K – off their bucket list, the question for many runners and walkers is how to stay motivated to continue their training?

For Colwood’s Dawn Christenson, the answer was to pair her love of travel with her passion for running, and she committed to completing a marathon in each of Canada’s 10 provinces over 10 years.

The story begins with the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon – Christenson’s first marathon – in 2008.

On Oct. 8, her 10-year quest ends on the opposite end of the country, when she finishes this year’s Trapline Marathon in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador.

“I think all runners are goal oriented and signing up for events is a public commitment that keeps the motivation high. Once I had done several half marathons, I was looking for a bigger challenge and signed up for the full Victoria Marathon in 2008. Even though I still think of that race as the toughest one I ever did, it motivated me to do another, because I knew I could do better,” Christenson says.

While noting she’s not an elite athlete, she describes running as “a ‘change of life’ passion with the ultimate goal of aging gracefully by being active for as long as my legs will carry me.”

Now 54, Christenson didn’t start running until age 40. “I was immediately hooked by how quickly my fitness improved the more consistent I was with my running,” she says, noting at the time, “I knew nothing about marathon running.

“The ‘10 marathons, 10 provinces, 10 years’ goal came out of my desire to make sure running stays a part of my lifestyle with that end game in mind, to keep active for the rest of my life.”

Tying her fitness goals to travelling through Canada offered the best of both worlds.

“A ‘get to know Canada’ quest, I had never been east of Ontario, and love exploring. I’m a very proud Canadian and would rather spend my vacation dollars discovering all the beauty and culture Canada has to offer,” Christenson says, recalling both the 50-runner marathon in Treherne, Man. and crossing the St. Lawrence River with thousands in the Quebec City marathon.

“The race in each province has been so unique – the people, the scenery, the places we stayed. Big city, small hamlet, grand hotel, mom-and-pop motel, alone and with family – we made some fun memories and met fascinating people.”

While Christenson will be running 10 provinces away, runners and walkers can join this year’s Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon, half-marathon, relay, 8K or children’s fun run at runvictoriamarathon.com/registration.

“The course itself in Victoria is second-to-none. It is a world-class race – so well done and so well suppor-

ted,” she says.

And as she trains with her local running friends, Christenson is already looking forward to that next goal:

“Once I’ve done the most easterly province, now that I live here I may have to do the Victoria marathon next year, just to see if I can do it better than I did 10 years ago!”

jennifer.blyth

@blackpress.ca