Yana Hempler runs along the Dallas Road beach

Yana Hempler runs along the Dallas Road beach

Saanich runner ready to tackle Island distance

Novice marathoner plans to tackle several a week during fundraiser

The entrepreneurial spirit runs through Yana Hempler.

She has sold products through a multi-level marketing company, competed online in a national great ideas and mentorship contest and recently graduated with a bachelor of commerce degree – specializing in entrepreneurship and marketing – from the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria, earning four straight Black Press business scholarships along the way.

A late-March post on her Twitter account (@yhempler) gives a glimpse into her outlook on life: “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe that’s when you will be successful.”

She’s a fan of Canadian entrepreneur and Dragon’s Den regular panelist W. Brett Wilson, as well as Donald Trump.

But don’t let the apparent focus on business fool you. It’s fitness, health and community that hold her heart.

She’ll combine all three in Run for Their Lives, a 495-kilometre run from Port Hardy to Victoria in aid of three Greater Victoria charities.

“I like to challenge myself, and running and fitness are my biggest passions,” says the 23-year-old Saanich resident, who is a certified  trainer and blogs on health and fitness. “There’s nothing more rewarding than knowing that I can help people at the same time.”

Hempler, a 2008 graduate of North Island secondary in Port Hardy, plans to start the run there May 20. She hopes to run a marathon a day, about 42 km, for two or three days straight, rest for a day, then resume her pace.

“I’m thankful to be able to run 40 kilometres at a time,” she says.

Last weekend, she peeled off a 30-km training run, a regimen she plans to ease back on soon, as she is also training for the May 5 BMO Vancouver Marathon. Last fall, she ran her first GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon.

“The biggest thing with distance running is to be patient and not increase the distance too quickly,” she says.

Running the Island is no sudden crazy idea. Hempler has been thinking about tackling a major run for a few years.

Her running background goes back much further. Distance training was a daily routine at school in her hometown of Novgorod, Russia. She began competing in track upon moving to Alberta in Grade 5. She developed into a top high school runner in northern Alberta before moving to the North Island.

She counts Terry Fox as a major inspiration, having discovered the Terry Fox Run during her school days in Alberta. Even then she liked the idea that she could help a charity while working on her running skills.

“I kind of missed out on the deadline for the GoodLife Fitness Marathon charity (program),” she says, explaining her desire to make her Island run a fundraiser.

She has a connection to all three charities: she has volunteered for the Mustard Seed food bank, a roommate volunteered with the B.C. SPCA and a classmate was a summer intern at Recreation Integration Victoria.

Doug Nutting, executive director for RIV, said his organization is “thrilled” to be one of the charities Hempler targeted.

“Given the economy and what it’s like to be a non-profit, anytime we can generate some extra revenue, it’s greatly appreciated,” Nutting said.

Money provided from the run will allow RIV to send children and youth to summer day camps, provide one-on-one support for children who need specialized help to engage in recreational activities, and defray the cost of training volunteers, he added.

Hempler is soliciting corporate sponsorships, as well as encouraging individual donations.

Individuals can donate Hempler’s cause through her page at Canada Helps. Corporate sponsors may contact her directly at yhempler@uvic.ca.