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Sun Run fever hits the Coast

From high school runners to proud mums and their babies, the Sunshine Coast was out in force in Vancouver last Sunday.

From high school runners to proud mums and their babies, the Sunshine Coast was out in force in Vancouver last Sunday.

The Coast contingent pounded the streets along with nearly 50,000 other runners, walkers and wheelchair athletes for the 20th annual Vancouver Sun Run.

The athletes ran the 10 km trek through downtown Vancouver and False Creek under sunny skies.

Some had trained with the Sun Run clinic group, some were regular competitors, and the rest were fun runners and walkers wanting to be part of one of North America's largest road races. Among the competitors was 14-year-old Shaun Stephens-Whale of Roberts Creek who ran a personal best 37:54 to place second in the male under 16 division (fourth among males under 19).

Another division top-10 placer was Carl Green of Gibsons, running 40:22 to place seventh among the 55 to 59 men. Running with Carl was Rick Cooney of Sechelt, recording 40:21.

But there were other amazing Sunshine Coast stories worth noting at this year's event.

In 2003, a group of Sunshine Coast women became new mums and good friends. Feel the burn was the group's motto, and their ultimate goal was to do the Sun Run. On Sunday they achieved that goal.

"All overwhelmed and overweight, we congregated at the Sechelt Public Health Unit every Wednesday afternoon to share our experiences of parenthood," said Christine Younghusband.

"The weekly meeting, or gab session, eventually evolved into a regular walking group meeting three times a week up and down the Coast.

"In all 10 mums, one dad and eight babies formed the Coast Crawlers. The baby-less parents ran the race, while the stroller-mums walked proudly through the race with their babies. We were 39th out of 43 teams. Our group is growing, our figures are slimming, and we would do the Sun Run all over again."

Chatelech Secondary School also sent a large group to this year's run.

According to Chat student council president Kai Nestman, 24 participants, a mix of teachers, students and parents, joined to create a traditional Sun Run team in honour of Mike Smeaton.

Last January, Smeaton, a beloved Chat teacher, passed away while he was training for the Sun Run.

"During a time of great loss, the idea of creating a team to run the Sun Run in honour of Mike Smeaton's devotion towards the school was an obvious choice," Nestman said. "For the first time, Chatelech students, staff and Mike's wife, Robin Thompson, decided they would complete the run on his behalf. Much like last year, everyone came together and ran in memory of a wonderful teacher, husband, musician and person."

Nestman said this year brought better running results as most people cut at least 10 minutes off last year's time.

"With the sunny weather and almost 48,000 runners participating, the course appeared to be much busier compared to last year," Nestman said. "And the air was filled with excitement as many of Smeaton's team participated for the first time. All commented on what an amazing experience it was. Overall, whether it was just the feeling of achievement or running for a worthy cause, the team has committed to continuing the legacy next year."