Pink is the new red for Huntsville’s half-marathon running Fire Chief


What do you get when you put an all-female running group together with Huntsville’s Fire Chief Steve Hernen? You get Fitt Flames and the Chief! And you get the t-shirt.

What started out as a group of people wanting to improve their running distance culminated in the Scotiabank Waterfront halfmarathon run in October.

As Steve tells the story, the group started running together in June. “Angie (Angie Aldridge, their trainer) kicked our asses three days a week. We slowly built up to 16-17 kilometers runs. Wednesdays were the worst. She made us do hills. We would run from the gym to the Lookout, go up, do 10 push-ups and the go down. Then go up, do 10 push-ups and then go down. Then go up, do 10 push-ups and then go down. I have no idea what the push-ups were for. When we weren’t running up the Lookout we ran up the hill at Highway 60 to Home Depot. That’s one kilometre, up hill. You weren’t allowed to stop running.”

And no, Steve says he never puked. Not even a little.

A few weeks into the training, Angie suggested the group do the Scotiabank Waterfront half marathon in Toronto – a distance of 21.1 km. “None of us had any intention of doing the half but Angie kept kidding us that we should. Slowly, one by one, we jumped in and said okay, we’ll give it a try. “

What does one think about while running one kilometre up hill? “I think about my day. I thought about what I had to do, emails, letters. That’s what I enjoy about running.”

The group was motivating as well. “We teased the hell out of each other. We set up a Facebook page where we would post our runs when we were away. We kept track of each other. And nobody quit. Our philosophy was that we weren’t done until everyone was done.”

That’s how it went race day as well.

We were like a bunch of nervous prom girls. The race started at 8:30 a.m. It was a cold, damp morning. We were corralled based on our race time. Most of us started in the 2:15 time slot. Karen Fisher ran most of the race with me but at 18.5km I told her to go. Karen kept pushing and pushing me but she had too much energy for me near the end.

Steve Hernen

Fitt Flames and the Chief“At the finish I tried to subtract 15 from 2:27. I could not do it. For me, it was a great mystery what 2:27 minus 15 equals. I don’t know if it was the cold or the exhaustion but mentally I was f – ried.

Is there a full marathon in their future? Steve says they have been tossing around a bunch of race ideas. And like most things, talking about the next race is half the fun.

And they all got the t-shirt! Fitt Flames and the Chief chose hot pink for their t-shirt colour so that they could find each other in the throng of people on race day. “They wanted hot pink and they didn’t think I would go for it but I’m very proud to wear my hot pink jersey!”


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