July 22, 2019

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Pregnant runners cross finish line

Reesa Simmonds, part of an all-pregnant relay team, approaches the finish line of the Manitoba Marathon Sunday. Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press

Reesa Simmonds, part of an all-pregnant relay team, approaches the finish line of the Manitoba Marathon Sunday. Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press

Along the smooth route of the Manitoba Marathon, there were a few bumps — baby bumps, that is. A relay team made up of five pregnant women joined together to have fun and exercise.

Team representative and practising physician, Reesa Simmonds, said research has shown the benefits of exercising while pregnant.

“Probably as far as a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy goes, the worst thing somebody could do would be to remain sedentary,” Simmonds said.

“So I think we’re just living what the current recommendations are and we’re trying to enjoy it.

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Along the smooth route of the Manitoba Marathon, there were a few bumps — baby bumps, that is. A relay team made up of five pregnant women joined together to have fun and exercise.

Team representative and practising physician, Reesa Simmonds, said research has shown the benefits of exercising while pregnant.

"Probably as far as a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy goes, the worst thing somebody could do would be to remain sedentary," Simmonds said.

"So I think we’re just living what the current recommendations are and we’re trying to enjoy it.

"In the context of pregnancy, what changes it that there’s zero push, there’s zero expectation, as long as you’re putting one foot in front of the next and it feels good… that’s all you have to aim for," Simmonds said.

Fellow teammate Maddie Fontaine said it seems as though everyone likes to have an opinion on how pregnancy should be handled.

Ashly Reyes, Reesa Simmonds and Breanne Peters, part of an all-pregnant relay team, gather at the finish line Sunday. (Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press)

Ashly Reyes, Reesa Simmonds and Breanne Peters, part of an all-pregnant relay team, gather at the finish line Sunday. (Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press)

"If you’re not an obstetrician, you don’t get to tell me what to do," Fontaine said. "Running is good for me and I’m just going to keep doing it."

Simmonds searched on social media for fellow pregnant runners who wanted to participate in the relay; however, she said there wasn’t much interest.

"Not even a comment or a like," she said.

Eventually, by word of mouth and workplace connections, she was able to recruit a team.

Simmonds, who is 32 weeks pregnant, pulled together a team that includes Fontaine, who is 28 weeks pregnant; Ashly Reyes, 23 weeks pregnant; Marie Lospe, 21 weeks pregnant; and Breanne Peters, 17 weeks pregnant.

While most team members had experience running marathons, some had never run while pregnant.

Lospe, who has done 10-kilometre runs on and off for a few years, said she hopes her participation helps motivate other pregnant women.

Pregnant marathoners Ashly Reyes (from left), Maddie Fontaine, Breanne Peters, Reesa Simmonds (and her daughter Jordan) and Marie Lospe pose with their numbers for Sunday's marathon. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)

Pregnant marathoners Ashly Reyes (from left), Maddie Fontaine, Breanne Peters, Reesa Simmonds (and her daughter Jordan) and Marie Lospe pose with their numbers for Sunday's marathon. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)

"I feel that, especially for our mental health, it’s super important to stay fit and active. It helps us better for postpartum stuff, to bounce back quicker, stay healthy and to be role models for our kids," Lospe said.

While many marathon participants race against the clock, these moms just wanted to complete the relay.

"The goal really is just to get all 10 of us across the line," Reyes said in an interview last week before the run.

While running on Sunday, Reyes said she received a lot of encouragement during her leg of of the race.

"People were giving me a thumbs-up and I heard one lady say, ‘Well if she’s doing it, I gotta run!’ so it was really good," Reyes said.

As Simmonds entered the stadium at the tail end of the relay, fans cheered when they noticed her bulging stomach and a "baby on board" sign she had pinned to her sports bra.

"Typically, I run full marathons, so I’m a total mess coming in, but this was just a taste of it and it was just fantastic to be able to have a baby on board and feel good about it," Simmonds said.

This isn’t the first time Simmonds has raced with a baby on board. In 2016, Simmonds carried her 83-day-old son David across the finish line at the Manitoba Marathon.

It took the team about five hours to complete the relay.

nadya.pankiw@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Sunday, June 16, 2019 at 9:39 PM CDT: Edited

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