Just do it: turf the Nikes and find our ancestral ‘soles’

When I first signed up to run the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon as part of Raincoast’s ‘Salmon Run’ team, I just had two tasks: get fit and raise 1,000 dollars.   Yeah, just two tasks.

Last summer, about a dozen of us set out with the goal of each raising $1,000 toward Raincoast’s youth conservation initiative.  The primary emphasis of this program is to help fund Raincoast’s ongoing involvement in science and education camps for youth that take place annually in the remote Koeye valley on the BC coast. We try to host at least two camps every summer and send members of our science staff to work with the kids. While the entire summer program covers a range of issues that face First Nations youth, Raincoast’s participation generally focuses on the lives of salmon, wolves or bears, but has also included getting the kids onto Achiever (our research vessel) to spend a day listening to underwater animals, examining small creatures like plankton and gaining exposure to life in the ocean.

The response to these camps, both from the campers and the instructors alike, is that they are often transformative and even life changing.  We believe these kinds of experiences will help shape future leaders of BC’s coastal communities, and inspire passion and dedication to protecting this coast.

So, with that in mind, the twelve of us set our goal.  I am thrilled to report that most of us met or exceeded it!  Together with our sponsors, we doubled what we raised last year – you can still help us build on that success by donating now. This was the second year for Raincoast as an official pledge charity of the Victoria Marathon.

This was also the second year I ran the half marathon.  While I was training, I read an incredible book, which I recommend even to non-runners.  Titled Born to Run, the story is about ultra marathons (50-100 miles, often in extreme conditions), the people and tribes that do these distances, and the psychological space that dominates the champions in this arcane world. One of the chapters focused on our evolutionary history as long distance endurance runners.  It was amazing what this knowledge did for framing the distance of a few (okay, 21 to be exact) kilometres, given what our species is actually capable of.  The ‘form fits function’ elements of our running anatomy was something new to me, as I always thought our bodies weren’t designed for distance running and that was the reason for the physical breakdowns that most runners experience.  Not so, according to the author Christopher McDougall.

The ‘what we are capable of’ aspect of this race has been a theme running through my consciousness.  As a species, we are capable of so much more than we typically exhibit. We just need to get out of the headspace we are currently in and recognize our true nature.  From this can come great joy and harmony, even under duress.  Trashing our planet becomes much more difficult when joy and harmony are the driving forces in our daily lives.

Next year I have my sights on the full marathon.  And if I want to beat the statistics on running injuries, I need to ditch my running shoes, get onto the ball of my foot, and step like a fox; lightly on the Earth, with purpose and presence.

You can help

Raincoast’s in-house scientists, collaborating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors make us unique among conservation groups. We work with First Nations, academic institutions, government, and other NGOs to build support and inform decisions that protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on them. We conduct ethically applied, process-oriented, and hypothesis-driven research that has immediate and relevant utility for conservation deliberations and the collective body of scientific knowledge.

We investigate to understand coastal species and processes. We inform by bringing science to decision-makers and communities. We inspire action to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.