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Posted on Thursday, 27 June 2013, 3:10 PM

By Samantha Sparling

Last year, when Kelly asked me to be a sub for the BMI dragon boat team, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I had the chance to attend one practice and although it was absolutely terrifying; I loved it.  I knew I had to participate again this year. 

I’ve always really enjoyed sports, team sports at that, like soccer, ringette and hockey, but a water team sport is filled with different challenges.  For dragon boating, each paddler must be in sync - sounds easy right? No, not at all! The boat must also be balanced and the slightest movement made me feel like we were about to tip and head into the water! (Thankfully this did not happen). 

After a few great practices with amazing and patient coaches from the Rideau Canoe Club, it was time for the big race day! I woke up early, got my gear ready and headed down to Mooney’s Bay. The butterflies started to kick in when we were leaving the staging area and heading to the dock. We got into our boat and headed down to the start line, guided by our great steer person, and of course, our giggly drummer Kristy. After what felt like the longest 2:45 ever, the first race was over.  My arms felt like jell-o and I really needed some water.  I was so excited and it felt like we did really well. I couldn’t wait for our afternoon race.  

The most exciting part about our afternoon race was that we were going to be racing against the other BMI team… How cool is that? So off we go to the staging area, into our boats and back to the start line.  We were all focused and before we knew it, were given the queue for the race to start.  We managed to improve our time to 2:37! What an accomplishment.  It is safe to say that I think everyone in the boat gave it their all.  It was also really cool to finish at the same time as our other BMI team and the encouragement and the high-fives coming from both teams were awesome.

I absolutely loved being part of the BMI dragon boat team and if given the chance to do it again, I wouldn’t have to think twice.  My answer would be yes!  

Posted on Tuesday, 20 September 2011, 3:00 PM

Canadian Army Run, 2011

Running can be a very solitary experience; even though you may be running with friends and encouraging each other on, it is usually all about you … the focus is on you even though there are people around you.   Am I running too fast?  Am I running too slow?   Am I drinking enough?   Am I fuelling enough?  Am I wearing the right clothes?   And ultimately what is my “chip time” when we finally cross the finish line?  Whether you admit it or not, everyone hopes that on race day you will finish with a personal best time.

The Canadian Army Run this past Sunday was anything but solitary.  Before I headed out for the run, I posted on my own FB page that I was heading out to participate in the Canadian Army Run, I was participating to honour and thank all of the men and women who have, and are currently serving our country.  I am sure that each and every one of the BMI members and their family members that joined them in one of the various events all felt the same way on Sunday. 

What a turn-out we had!  With participants in each of the 5K and half-marathon we were well represented out on the course.  Kelly inspired us all to do our best and it was wonderful having her there to share the excitement with us.  The sun was shining, the temperature was ideal and with 16,000 runners, including many from the Canadian Military, it was the perfect day all around.

There was lots to see out on the race course, a firefighter in full gear (at least he had running shoes on), a couple of guys in rubber camouflage suits complete with gas masks!  There was a lady with my favorite sign that said “Keep running the ice cream truck is just around the corner” ….. must have seen her 5 times along the ½ marathon route and I turned many corners and I never saw the ice cream truck!  There were many members of the military, some in wheelchairs and on prosthetic legs, making all of us  forget our individual aches and pains and focus on their bravery.

This day was truly special with fellow BMI members and family to encourage and motivate each other whether they were running 5K or a half-marathon, it seemed to be all about “us” and not about “me”.  And to our dearest friend Randi who I saw three times along the route, thank you from us all, you can’t know how amazing it was to see you and know that we had our own personal cheerleader and photographer.

The race came to an end, leg cramps and all, but the most emotional part for sure was walking up and having the official “finisher’s dog tags” put over your head by a proud young man or woman from our Canadian Forces.  With a lump in my throat, I simply shook their hand and said “Thank you for what you are doing”.

This was truly not a “solitary run” it was a “military run”!   What a memorable day.