Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Meet our marathoners

The Free Press is following four Winnipeggers as they train for this year's Manitoba Marathon

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Two are elite running champions and two are relatively new to pavement pounding. But they all have one thing in common: They intend to run the 2012 Manitoba Marathon, either the full or the half.

Meet Winnipeggers Mike Booth, Corey Gallagher, Ramona Turner and Kris Wood.

In the weeks to come, the Free Press will follow each in their quest to get body and mind ready for race day on June 17.

You can follow along in their training. With 116 more days until marathon day, meet the group that's sure to inspire you:

MIKE BOOTH,

an elite runner and owner of Massage Athletica.

Background: A familiar face in Winnipeg's running community, Booth, 31, has won the full Manitoba Marathon four times. The St. James resident also coaches running clinics and is mentor to many novice and elite marathoners. You might recognize Booth from his five-year stint working at Stride Ahead, a specialty running store in Grant Park Shopping Centre. Now he's a certified massage therapist who recently opened his own business, Massage Athletica.

Plans to: Run the full marathon.

What happened during last year's Manitoba Marathon: Booth placed fourth overall -- a result he calls a bit of a disappointment. "Obviously you'd like to win and things to go better, but based on the training, I couldn't realistically have expected to have done any better," says Booth, who spent many sleepless nights last year completing his schooling and preparing for the launch of his new business.

2012 marathon goals: "My focus is getting to the start line feeling healthy," says Booth, who vows to "get back and win it this year."

Training regimen: Runs for 30 minutes daily. Also enjoys CrossFit workouts -- functional fitness performed at a high intensity.

Obstacles to beat: "I'm really just focusing on trying to get consistent. I've been having difficulty transitioning to full-time work and trying to fit in the running."

Worst marathon ever: Ironically, it is the first Manitoba Marathon he ever won. "It was a horrible, horrible experience. It took me many months to recover from it," says Booth, who has collapsed after races.

Why he loves running: Booth doesn't get the infamous "runner's high." But the feeling running induces, he says, is just as intense. "When you get into a race and everything comes together and it just kind of clicks. That's a feeling that is awesome. That's why running is so addicting," says Booth.

Why he feels he was born to run: He has a real work ethic. And at 5' 6" and about 130 pounds, Booth says he has the compact body type that handles running well. "Running probably comes a little bit easier (to me) than most people."

COREY GALLAGHER, an elite runner who works as a Canada Post letter carrier.

Background: Second to cross the finish line in last year's Manitoba half marathon. He also placed second in the 2005 half. The 24-year-old Canada Post letter carrier is no stranger to the Manitoba Marathon; he's run all but one half marathon there since age 12. Gallagher juggles his full-time postal job with a part-time gig at Stride Ahead.

Plans to: Run the half marathon.

What happened during last year's half marathon: "I was kind of burning out," says Gallagher. "(Winner Brian Walker) could hold on longer. And he turned out to be the fitter man. He could hold on to that pace a little longer."

2012 marathon goals: "My ultimate goal at the end of the day is to run fast. And I'm happy if I run fast. But it always feels so much better if you can win."

Training regimen: Trains every day at the University of Manitoba track doing running drills followed by short periods of rest.

Obstacle to beat: Handling the physical demands of his mail carrier job (in which he walks six to 10 miles daily) with the physical demands of training for a half marathon. "At the end of the (workday), you don't really want to do anything. You're exhausted. Then you have to go out and run some miles," says Gallagher.

How he discovered running: Joined a running club at his elementary school and soon discovered he loved the sport. When his mother realized he had a talent for it, she helped him find races to enter.

Gruesome aspect of marathon running: Stomach upset during a race. "The washroom pains are really bad. Your stomach just doesn't agree with whatever it might be. It just makes for a long, uncomfortable run," says Gallagher, who is still trying to figure out what foods work for his body on race day.

What goes through his mind during a race: "I just want to finish and I hope nobody comes up behind me."

RAMONA TURNER, a hobby runner who works as an administrative assistant.

Background: This Headingly mother and wife first hit the pavement in 1997 and hasn't looked back. Two years ago, she decided to take running a bit more seriously. To prove it, she has completed two half marathons, including last May's Winnipeg Police Services half, which took place during a blizzard.

Plans to: Make the 2012 Manitoba Marathon her first full marathon.

What happened during last year's half marathon: She ran the race with an injury. Excruciating pain forced her to walk part of the marathon. "I had to take five or six weeks off running after," says Turner, 43. "People asked me, 'Was it worth it?' Absolutely. I had to finish what I started."

2012 marathon goals: "Just do what you've been taught. Don't let your confidence or insecurities erode you," says Turner, who wants to clock in at four hours and 30 minutes.

Training regimen: Trains with the marathon clinic at City Park Runners, a specialty running shop located in St. James. Since January, she's been doing speed interval workouts on Tuesdays and tempo runs on Thursdays. Her long runs, which are on Saturdays, are now around 24 kilometres. "I have never trained this intensely. I did not know what hard work was until these clinics."

Obstacles to beat: Has exercise-induced anaphylaxis, a rare condition that results in an occasional allergic reaction after exercise and usually related to foods eaten. After her first reaction in 2001, she worried that exercise could literally end her life. She's chosen to keep on carefully exercising (and eating).

What started her running: She initially used it as a weight loss tool to supplement her step aerobics. When the weight came off, she kept going.

Her inspiration: Has attended several destination races as a spectator (to see her husband run). "I would watch all these wonderful people coming across the line--every body shape, size and type. Crossing the line and working so hard. Having so much fun at it," says Turner. "I thought, 'You know what?' I really want to be the person coming across the line."

KRIS WOOD, a hobby runner and sales representative for a packaging company.

Background: Took up running three years ago and has run seven half marathons since. This Charleswood mother and wife has played ringette for most of her life, so knows the value of sportsmanship and hard work. She lost 30 pounds in her first few months of running and has kept it off since.

What drew her to running: Three years ago, Wood's 55-year-old mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The thought of losing her sent Wood into a tailspin. "I was sort of on the edge of a nervous breakdown. I was overweight because I quit smoking a few years before and was sort of drowning my sorrows in the drink," says Wood, who worried about her own predisposition to Alzheimer's. Her doctor offered her a way to cope and to help protect her brain from disease: Exercise. "So I quit my job and I started running down a gravel road."

Plans to: Run her first full marathon.

2012 marathon goals: To keep the same pace that she did in the 2010 Winnipeg Police Service Half Marathon (which she finished in 1:53:03).

Training regimen: Plans to join the Running Room's marathon clinic in March. For now, she runs twice weekly, "if I'm lucky." She also does weights, yoga and swims. Completed Mike Booth's full marathon clinic last year.

Obstacle to beat: "The fact that I don't know that I can do it. I think everybody's fear is not accomplishing their goal."

How she developed her running skills in the beginning: She engaged in a walk-run regimen. "Every day I could run 30 seconds longer. Every day I just ran further and further. Every day that I ran, every day I felt better, every day the weight just came off," says Wood, 38.

Her running philosophy: "I'm not running from my life, but I'm running from what life could give me," says Wood, whose mother passed away from brain cancer 14 months ago.

Follow Shamona on Twitter: @ShamonaHarnett

Have an interesting story idea you'd like Shamona to write about? Contact her at Shamona.harnett@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 21, 2012 D1

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