When she started running 500-metre laps of her block at 8 a.m. on Saturday a couple of neighbours noticed right away.
By midday, Yvonne Kemeny of Empress Avenue had met a few neighbours she didn’t know and was receiving cheers.
Kemeny completed the 500m loop around the block of Empress, Cook, Bay and Chambers, 99 times (plus change) to finish a 50-kilometre ultra-marathon. At the same time, one of her usual running mates, Trish Connor, did the same thing in Deep Cove.
The two have been running long distance for over a decade. Both are trail runners who said they’ve adhered to Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice – staying off the trails.
“[Connor] was supposed to do the annual Elk-Beaver Ultra 50km [organized by Prairie Inn Harriers] and when she said she was going to do 50km around Deep Cove I said I’ll do it too,” Kemeny said. “I haven’t run 50km in a while.”
Connor had targeted the 50km run and completed it in six hours and 56 minutes while Kemeny, who ran “in solidarity,” had to walk a few times but ran most of the last 10km for a time of 8:52. The two are also part of the Great Virtual Race Tennessee, an online challenge to run 1,000km from May 1 to Aug. 31 and getting 50km in one day is a helpful bump along the way (they have to average eight kilometres per day).
“It hit 29 degrees [in Deep Cove] but there was no competition or time-cutoffs which you’re chasing in ultra-marathons,” Connor said.
Connor was inspired when she saw French runner Elisha Nochomovitz, 32, complete a marathon on his 23-foot balcony in March. Others are doing ultras in their backyards, Connor said.
Trish Connor completed 50km ultra-marathon around her Deep Cove neighbourhood on Saturday. (Trish Connor Photo)
When the families across the street from Kemeny learned what she was attempting on Saturday, they created a cheering section and the kids used sidewalk chalk to draw a map of Kemeny’s route. It was a surprise that they rallied around.
“We didn’t know [Kemeny] was going to do it but we are cheering her on, very inspiring,” said David Boudinot.
It was similar to what Connor experienced in Deep Cove, where her husband gathered neighbours for a finish line celebration.
“It went from something no one knew about except close friends to [Kemeny] having a block-party cheering squad,” Connor said. “My husband made me a medal and a custom T-shirt with a sharpie.”
Both husbands also stocked the aid station with food and drinks for the runners, Kemeny’s on her front porch, and Connor’s in the driveway.
“It was awesome,” Kemeny said. “I met a new neighbour, I talked to some people I haven’t seen for a while. [At one point], people on Bay Street finally stopped me and said, ‘What are you doing?’
One passerby assumed Kemeny must be fundraising and dropped $5 into a box in the neighbour’s driveway “for the cause.”
“I wasn’t fundraising but I was actually going to donate a typical registration fee, $100 to a charity, so I’ll make it $105,” Kemeny said.