For the Butchers, running is a family affair and Sunday’s Interior Running Association Christmas breakfast was evidence of how successful an affair it has become.
Bruce Butcher, his daughter Marianne and his granddaughter Emma McLeod were among about a dozen runners recognized for their achievements this season. Bruce, 79, finished first in the 75-79 road-running category and second in the cross-country discipline, while Marianne, 47, was fifth in the 45-49 cross-country. McLeod, Marianne’s 17-year-old daughter, finished first in the 16-19 age group.
“Very nice and very humbling,” said Bruce, who also received a watch from Timex in recognition of his first place road-racing finish. “It’s a nice way to start Christmas.”
Bruce has Marianne to thank for getting him started in running almost 15 years ago. It was something she thought he would enjoy doing as he began his retirement.
Now, just a few months before his 80th birthday, running has become more of a way of life than a hobby — “I feel something’s missing if I’m not running,” he said following the awards ceremony. He also has revised his original goal of running until his 80th birthday, now thinking 90 is a more appropriate benchmark.
It’s a way of life that has helped him develop a bond with his family, as well.
“That makes it even more special,” he said. “I’ve got Marianne here and (her daughters) Maggie and Emma, it’s very nice.”
Emma McLeod, who started running around her 12th birthday and had completed her first half-marathon by 13, was happy to share the morning with her grandfather, who she said was the reason she attended the ceremony. She runs all of her races side-by-side with her mother, saying it makes the runs more fun for her when Marianne is there to chat with her and help pass the time.
Emma generally finishes a few seconds ahead, though she’s not entirely sure if it’s because she has more left in the tank by the end of the race.
“She would beat me hands down if we both ran our own pace,” McLeod said. “At the end, I’ve got the last little bit. She probably does too and just lets me win.”
Though Marianne got Bruce started on running, she now draws inspiration from her dad.
He will be competing in the duathlon — a race that begins with a run, switches to biking, before going back to running — at the International Triathlon Union World Championships in Pontevedra, Spain, in June.
“He is the inspiration, he’s the inspiration for not only us as a family, but everybody around him,” she said. “He’s amazing, and I don’t know how many times a day I get approached by someone who says the same thing, so we’re very lucky.”
“He’s the first one to go out of his way to do anything for any of us,” McLeod echoed. “He puts us first before everything, wants us to get involved. He knows that we do it for him . . . it makes him happy, which makes us happy.”
When Bruce’s name was called Sunday, it drew the loudest cheers from the crowd, proof of his special standing in Kamloops and with the Interior association.
“We are just a hugely lucky family,” Marianne said. “We’re lucky to have dad as an inspiration and I’m the luckiest mom in the world, so it doesn’t get any better than that.”
LAST LAP: The IRA’s other honourees Sunday included Regina Black (second, women’s road 50-54), Sherry Sim (third, women’s road 50-54), Mel Doherty (fourth, men’s road 60-64; second, men’s cross-country 60-64; road and cross-country Iron Legs awards; IRA Legs of Steel award), Fraser Stewart (third, men’s road 60-64), Jordan Sim (second, men’s road 50-54), Kathryne Flannery (sixth, women’s road 50-59), Karen Willies (sixth, women’s road 65-69; first, women’s cross-country 65-69), Linda Woodbury (fifth, women’s road 65-69; second, women’s cross-country 65-69), Erica Malerby (first, women’s road 35-39) and Rick Jenkner (fifth, men’s road 55-59).