These St. John's seniors are escaping winter by running a bucket list marathon
Many seniors like to take leisurely beach holidays to escape the dreary St. John's winter.
A quartet of friends in St. John's has something a little more active in mind: running the Tokyo Marathon on March 5.
"My older siblings, my brothers and sisters, think I'm crazy," said Bruce Fancy, a runner in his mid-60s.
Fancy, Wayne Baggs, 71, Marie Baggs, 65, and Betty "I'm in my late 60s" McKenna, are part of a group of nine runners from the Athletics Northeast Running Club in St. John's who are travelling to Japan for the event.
Eight of the nine runners are over the age of 60.
World Major Marathon series
The Tokyo Marathon is a bucket list race for the St. John's runners; once they finish the Tokyo Marathon, they will receive their coveted Six Star Medals for completing the six World Major Marathons.
Fancy, the Baggses and McKenna have already run the major marathons in Boston, Chicago, New York City, London and Berlin.
The Tokyo event will complete the set, and the runners will be entered in an online Hall of Fame registry.
Fun with a group
Fancy started running on a dare from a friend.
"He made a bet that I couldn't run the Tely 10 back 17 years ago, and I ran the Tely 10 just to get my hundred bucks, and here I am," said Fancy.
He quickly got hooked on the sport and the camaraderie.
"It's so much more fun when you are going as a group," said McKenna.
"All of my running buds are doing the same thing, and we travel and take in other places along the way as we travel."
The runners enjoy each other's company, but they also take their training seriously. All six marathons require minimum qualifying times, so they have to be able to run relatively quickly.
They have been carefully logging hundreds of kilometres per month through snowy St. John's streets in preparation.
"My parents thought I was overdoing it, that I was wearing out my joints," said Wayne Baggs.
On the other hand, said Marie Baggs, their grandchildren get quite interested in their training.
"They want to know, How much do you do, Nan?'" she said.
A marathon journey
Then there is the stamina all nine runners will need to get to the Tokyo starting line.
The group is facing about 14 hours of air travel from St. John's to Tokyo, plus a 12½-hour time zone difference.
They agreed that marathon training and long trips are not for every senior citizen, but being physically active and socializing help keep anyone their age healthy and happy.
"We have a great time together," said Fancy. "I'm going to be doing it [running] as long as I can."
We're all kind of proud of ourselves, actually. - Betty McKenna
McKenna said crossing the finish line in Tokyo will be a big relief — but also cause for a big celebration.
"We're all kind of proud of ourselves, actually," said McKenna.