Conquering the Cape to Cabot: 2 first time runners share tears at the finish line

The loudest cheers for a runner at the 2019 Cape to Cabot race in St. John's came long after the winners — and almost everyone else — had left scenic Signal Hill.

Billed as one of the hardest races in eastern North America, Tracy Coffey's 20 kilometre journey came to an end with a small of army of supporters pushing her toward the finish line. 

"It's just amazing. I am so blessed to have such a great village and community [behind me]", Coffey said.

As the final runner to make their way toward Cabot Tower, Coffey had a police escort for the last five kilometres.

"He is going to want to make me quit here today," she said.

"But he was great cheerleader along the way. He said, 'come on, I'll get you up the hill'. He was awesome," Coffey said.

With his RNC police cruiser sirens blaring, and with her son at her side, Coffey accomplished her goal.

Jeremy Eaton/CBC

The officer then came over and hugged Coffey. 

"When I was 30, I ran my first Tely Ten and this year I turned 35 so I just wanted to do something big," Coffey said.

"Now, this morning it didn't feel like such a great idea."

But standing on the finish line with her friends, family and an arm full of flowers she expressed how happy she was she did it. 

From running the hills to walking down the aisle

One of those waiting for her was Nicole Hutchings.

The two have been friends for the past few years and have pushed each other along in running. 

They signed up for the race together and in the wind and cold Hutchings — who finished before Coffey — stood and waited for Coffey to cross the Cape to Cabot finish line. 

"It's awesome, I am so proud of her," Hutchings said.

There was no shortage of hugs and tears when Coffey touched the blue timing mat at the finish line. 

"It's just such a big feat to get it done … and to see all the support of your hard work and everyone is so proud of you. It's awesome," Hutchings said.

It's not the only feat Coffey will conquer this week, she will be getting married on Friday and joked that she would be walking down the aisle in one piece.  

Jeremy Eaton/CBC

One of the crew helping Coffey climb the daunting 1.6 kilometre hill to the finish was Joanne Cole-Taylor.  

Wearing blue from head to toe, she had more energy than most of the people in the race. 

"I just encourage runners up the hill," she said. 

For the past six races, Cole-Taylor dresses up and helps running up the final bit of hill before head toward the finish line. 

"I've ran this race myself a couple of times and I love helping people out," Cole-Tayor said.

"The encouragement that it gives them and the thanks that you get after makes it worth it to me"

For each and every runner coming up the hill, she is a bouncing ball of energy who took time out of her own training to volunteer. 

Cole-Taylor will run the New York Marathon on Nov. 3

Putt wins 2nd consecutive race, Murrin just behind

For the second straight year, Zach Putt was the fastest person to run from Cape Spear to Cabot Tower. 

His time in 2019 was close to two minutes faster than last year.

"It felt great, but going up Signal Hill never felt any easier."

As the lead runner, Putt had a police escort up the hill. 

As an officer with the RNC, Putt worked with the person behind the wheel of the police cruiser, who gave him a quick update on how large his lead was as he made his way toward the long hill to Cabot Tower. 

Jeremy Eaton/CBC

His lead a little too large for the second place finisher, Jennifer Murrin, to make up.

In her third Cape to Cabot race she crossed the finish line second overall, winning the women's title for the first time. 

"It feels great to finish this scenic and challenging course," said Murrin. 

But her success on the roadways wasn't the only one for women from Newfoundland and Labrador.

N.L. women shine in Toronto

Elite runners from the Avalon Peninsula also enjoyed success along the waterfront in Toronto. 

Kate Bazeley finished fourth in the women's marathon in a time of 2:36:35. 

In the half marathon race Tely Ten champion Anne Johnson finished second with Julia Howard coming in fourth and Jennifer Barron in 11th place. 

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