Marissa Currie, like many of her teammates on the Sault Athlete’s Foot Civics soccer team, has two reasons for taking part in Run the Great Lakes this coming Sunday.
On one hand, it’s for a good cause. Proceeds from Currie’s registration fee will benefit the Lung Association and support local programs for young track athletes.
On the other hand, the 13-year-old defender also hopes the event will serve as effective training for her upcoming games with the Civics under-13 girls team.
“I think it will really help with my running, for when we go away to tournaments,” said Currie, a Grade 7 student at Parkland Public School. “I want to keep my running up.”
Thirteen members of the Athlete’s Foot Civics are set to run the five-kilometre course this coming Sunday, when Run the Great Lakes will be held in the Sault for the 11th time.
Other members of the 18-player Civics side will help out at water stations.
The event starts with a half-marathon at 8:30 a.m. Runners and walkers begin 10-kilometre and five-kilometre races at 9:30 a.m.
Competitors will start from the Waterfront Inn and run a course along the St. Mary’s River.
Athlete’s Foot is also a major sponsor of Run the Great Lakes. Doug Richardson, general manager of the store, is race director for the event.
Richardson said runner registration is down from last year, so the enthusiasm shown by the Civics is welcome.
“One thing I try to let people know is that it isn’t just for racers,” Richardson said. “It’s also for people who just want to run with a group of people and have fun.
“Some people seem to think they’re not good enough. But I want the casual runners to understand they’re welcome.
“Last year, I remember driving home and seeing dozens of people running on their own. I wish I knew what button to push to get them to sign up.”
In the case of the Civics, at least, it was only a matter of scheduling.
“It’s something we wanted to do before, but every other year it was on the same weekend as the Lake Superior Cup,” said Derek Seaton, head coach of the under-13 girls. “We thought it would be a good gesture and a nice way to support our sponsor.
“It was excellent, the way the girls came through. I knew they would, though. They always come through.”
Midfielder Maddie Melisek, a Grade 7 student at St. Mary’s French Immersion, was one of the first to volunteer.
“I didn’t want to work the water station,” said Melisek, who turns 13 later his month. “I wanted to run.
“At first, I was one of the only girls who wanted to run.”
She’s no stranger to long-distance running, having already completed seven-kilometre races at school events.
“It’s a good cause,” Melisek said. “It will help a lot of people.”
Midfielder Deandra Gagnon, a Grade 7 student at St. Patrick’s, also has cross-country experience.
“I knew my friends were going in it, and it seemed like a good idea,” said Gagnon, 13. “And it’s a good way to train for soccer.
“I want it to be a little bit competitive, but I want to have fun, too.”
Registrations are still being accepted for Sunday’s event.
Fees are $40 for the half-marathon and $25 for the five or 10-kilometre races. Event shirts and refreshments will be provided to competitors.
Registrations will be accepted at Athletes Foot in the Station Mall until the day of the event, although the supply of shirts will be limited.