Yana Hempler takes seriously the idea of having her friends around, especially if they’ve survived serious illness or injury.
Her gratitude to local health-care professionals for saving the life of friend Ian Simpson in 2019 from a rare blood illness prompted her to run an incredible 12 marathons in 12 days last summer for the Victoria Hospitals Foundation (VHF).
The Saanich runner’s enthusiastic support of frontline health workers and the foundation’s funding of critical care equipment continues May 1, when she heads out to the Galloping Goose Trail to run the first of 30 marathons in 30 days to raise more money for VHF.
“This is a charity I care about very deeply and our health care heroes need all the support we can give them,” Hempler said.
While Simpson’s experience in hospital inspired the first multi-marathon feat, a $25,000 donation to that fundraiser last year from Dennis Hoy, who passed away shortly afterward, was one of the biggest motivators prompting her to up the ante on running-related fundraisers.
With goals of raising $500,000 and reaching many new potential donors through keeping people posted on her progress, Hempler hopes to complete more marathons in a month than she has done in her life to date.
“I like to challenge myself, and with no races going on this is a great opportunity to test how far I can get and see what I’m capable of,” she said.
Hempler, who works in procurement at Viking Air by day and is a fitness trainer in her off hours, will be heading down to the Galloping Goose Trail near Uptown around 7 a.m. each day to start her daily run. She’ll do a four-kilometre loop on the trail 10.5 times and, using a walk-run format to pace herself and prevent injury, expects to average between four-and-a-half to five hours.
“I do expect there to be some really difficult days, but that’s when I’ll have to keep going back to why I’m doing this and access these mental strengths that I hope will be there,” she said.
While she won’t be able to run with a large group due to COVID-19 public health protocols, she expects friends and supporters to run with her at a distance for stretches. She recalled a nurse running alongside her on the last of the 12-in-12 round, which wound up being her fastest day at 4:20.
“I was distracted because we were talking a lot,” she said. “I wanted her to run a personal best, which she did, and also wanted my last one to be fastest, which it was.”
Passersby on the Trans Canada Highway are encouraged to honk in support between May 1 to 30 in the mornings. To donate to the fundraiser, visit justgiving.com and search for Yana Hempler.
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