By Don McCormick
Like most athletes worldwide, Huntsville triathlete Kaitlyn Baker was disappointed and frustrated when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of all sporting events. She had been working very hard for months preparing to run her first marathon (42.2 km) in Ottawa on May 24, 2020. What now?
When the world hands you lemons, make lemonade.
Not wanting to have all that hard work go for naught, Baker decided to run her own marathon here in Huntsville on a course of her own design and to use the event to raise funds for the Huntsville Hospital Foundation. Anyone wanting to support her and the Foundation could make a donation on the Foundation’s website designated “Kaitlyn’s Run”.
“Race day”—Sunday, May 24—dawned warm and overcast, a perfect day for the run. At 6:30 a.m., Baker set off from her home on Lake Drive accompanied by Russ Buckerfield on his bike. “My loose goal was 3:35 [three hours and thirty-five minutes] which is the Boston [Marathon] qualifying standard for my age group,” explained Baker. “My hope goal was 3:33.44 which is .01 minutes faster than the above per kilometre. My actual time was 3:31.33.”
She was supported along her run by members of the TriMuskoka Triathlon Club and friends and neighbours who came out along the run to cheer her on. “I was surprised by how many people were out there supporting me,” exclaimed Baker. A group of about 20—all socially distanced—were on hand at the finish line to “bring her home”.
When asked how she felt at the conclusion of the race, Baker replied, “Really tired. Really happy.”
She felt her preparation had been appropriate and there were no surprises—except for the number of supporters along the route. “The support was incredible!” exclaimed Baker.
She expects to have raised about $2,000 for the Hospital Foundation. The actual amount according to Trish Kruusmagi, the development officer for stewardship and events for the Huntsville Hospital Foundation, was $1,985.
“The Huntsville Hospital Foundation is honoured and so grateful to Kaitlyn for choosing us as her charity of choice,” said Kruusmagi. “We rely on funds raised through initiatives like this one to meet our $3,000,000 fundraising goal each year.”
This was an impressive effort by Baker both from a running perspective—her time would have qualified her for the iconic Boston Marathon—and from a fund-raising perspective.
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