Islanders finish Disney World marathon

  • Jan. 18, 2012 5:00 a.m.

By Alex Rinfret–Exhausted, sunburned and screaming with exhilaration, Lareina Grosse and Roxanne Edgars crossed the finish line of the Walt Disney World Marathon in Florida last week. It was the first-ever marathon for the two runners from Masset, who spent four months training through all kinds of weather on Haida Gwaii. “I can’t even explain how emotional it was,” Ms Grosse said. “We were holding hands and screaming and crying when we crossed the finish line.” The day of the marathon – Jan. 8 – was the hottest day of that week in Florida, and Ms Grosse said that was a challenge, especially when their training had been in conditions like storm-force winds, rain, and snow. Ms Grosse said she and Ms Edgars got the idea of going in the Walt Disney World Marathon last summer, when they saw an ad for it in a running magazine. They were originally thinking of entering the half marathon, held the day before the full marathon. But when they went to the website to enter and saw the full marathon opportunity, something clicked. The two women looked at each other and decided to go for it. The huge marathon, which takes runners through four Disney theme parks, attracts 26,000 participants. Ms Grosse said it was a bit bewildering being among such a huge crowd, but the event was extremely well-organized. They got up at 2 am the day of the race, so they could prepare and get in line for the bus that would take them to the start of the race. The marathon started at 6 am. At that point, Ms Grosse said, it was so cold they could see their breath. But once the sun came up, the heat became blistering. The two islanders took their first 10 kilometres slowly, as they had been advised. But there were surprises along the way: the course was not as flat as they had thought, and they were not prepared for the heat. In the end, they finished the marathon in six hours and 15 minutes, a bit longer than they had expected but well within the seven hour limit. After seven hours, Ms Grosse said, the organizers send a bus around that picks up everyone who is still running. “We just wanted to finish it and not get picked up by the bus,” she said. For Ms Grosse, the marathon marked the culmination of a very long journey that started four years ago, when she was run over by a drunk driver in Victoria, injuring her foot and back. Before that moment, she had never been an athlete, and had no interest in running whatsoever. But after a nine-day hospital stay, she started months of physiotherapy. As part of the recovery process, she embarked on a program of physical activity. “My goal was to be able to run 10 kilometres, by myself,” Ms Grosse said. On the one-year anniversary of the accident, she did it, completing 10 kilometres along the beach outside Masset. It was a major feat, especially for someone who had always avoided gym class. “I could have gone down a different path,” she said. If she hadn’t taken up running, she believes she might very well still be unable to work and still suffering the psychological effects of the accident. Next, she started training with her sister for the annual Sun Run, a 10 kilometre run in Vancouver that attracts people from all over BC, including several islanders. She did that in 2010, then started looking for new challenges, which led her to the Disney World marathon. So what’s next for the Masset duo? Ms Grosse said she’s not too interested in doing another marathon, since she’s already done that. But, she said, she noticed that the Walt Disney World organizers have an event called “Goofy’s Challenge” where runners do a half-marathon one day, and a full marathon the next. That, she said, sounds intriguing. Meanwhile, she’ll keep running through the wind, rain, and snow on Haida Gwaii.

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