Race organizer Marilyn Hodgson greets Aaron Holmgren as he finishes the Terry Fox Run in Central Saanich (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Central Saanich Terry Fox Run feeds off enthusiasm of race organizer

Marilyn Hogdson organized her fifth Terry Fox run Sunday

Rain could not dampen the spirit of several hundred runners and walkers participating in the Terry Fox Run for Cancer Research in Central Saanich, and perhaps none was more enthusiastic than the race organizer, Marilyn Hodgson herself.

“One of the great things of this run is the enthusiastic race director,” said Gary Duncan, after he had finished the 10-kilometre loop.

Like so many before him, Duncan received a personal greeting from Hodgson, as he crossed the finish line. Others posed with her while holding a banner that reads Terry Fox Lives Here, while others gave her long embraces in thanking her. During the race itself, she cheered on runners, and waved her banners, drawing honks of support from passing motorists and municipal firefighters.

RELATED: Central Saanich Terry Fox Run aims at being the best one yet

Addressing the crowd before the start of the race, Hodgson said Fox’s perseverance and a personal history has inspired to get involved.

“I lost my mother, and my two sisters to cancer,” she said. “So it’s huge to me to be a part of the Terry Fox run.”

But Hodgson, a school teacher, was quick to note that Sunday’s run would not happened without an army of volunteers and participants themselves.

The run itself commemorates Terry Fox, whose Marathon of Hope sought to raise money for research against cancer.

Fox, who lost parts of his right leg to a malignant tumour in 1977 as a teenager, started his Marathon on Hope on April 12, 1980 in St John’s, N.L., but stopped 143 days and 5,373 kilometres later outside of Thunder Bay, Ont., after discovering that his cancer had spread to his lungs.

The 61-year-old Duncan remembers those days well. In fact, Duncan saw Fox on the road running not long before he had to stop.

“Oh, that was him,” said Duncan in recalling the encounter, while he was a grad student in Ontario.

While the encounter might have been fleeting, Duncan has since become a committed participant in the cause, even running with Fox’s best friend Doug Alward, who drove the van during Fox’s historic Marathon of Hope across.  Duncan himself has done the Central Saanich run 15 times and has come to appreciate its atmosphere and emphasis on all ages and abilities. “This caters to everybody,” he said.

Fox himself died on June 28, 1981 one month short of his twenty-third birthday, but not after his campaign had raised $24.17 million. The first Terry Run Fox took place on Sept. 13, 1981. Over the years, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised $750 million.

Hodgson referenced Fox in her remarks to the crowd.

“‘I’m going to do my very best,’” she said, quoting Fox. “‘I will fight. I promise I won’t give up.’ He neither did, and neither have you.”


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