Admittedly, as a skier and mountain biker, Jude Oliver isn’t big on running the way his parents—both long-distance runners—are.
But when considering how to mark this year’s Terry Fox Run, the 11-year-old Spring Creek student jumped at the idea of doing a full marathon, the distance his hero ran daily 40 years ago as part of the Marathon of Hope.
When discussing this year’s Terry Fox Run with his mother, ultramarathoner Louise, he started to dream big.
“I said, ‘I want to have a big goal this year. Can we do a marathon?’” he recalled. “She said, ‘OK, but we’ve got to do a lot of training.’”
Jude was feeling fit heading into the challenge after a summer full of bike camps, including lengthy climbs.
“I was a bit nervous. I knew I could do it because I was biking all summer for four days every week,” he said. “I was always energetic, so I knew I had the energy to do it.”
Louise ran alongside her son for the four 10.5-kilometre laps around Lost Lake Park for the entire six-plus hours and helped talk him through the experience.
“He was an absolute champ. He ran almost the entire way. He had some trouble in the last lap. For the last 15 kilometres, things started to go a little south,” she said. “He knew it was going to hurt, but never whined, never complained, never thought of backing out. And he ran the last two-and-a-half, three kilometres right into the end, so I’m very proud of him.”
Added Jude: “I was feeling great until the last lap, when I had a really sore ankle. It just started to hurt more and more as I progressed on my run, but we just rubbed some Voltaren on it and kept going,” he said.
Even though he was starting to feel the mileage, Jude never had any doubt in his mind that he’d cross the finish line. To keep himself mentally fresh, he would pick two trees in the distance and take a short walking break in between them, which he said proved to be a major help.
“I was always thinking I was going to do it. I never had a thing of doubt in my mind,” he said. “I knew I was doing it for a good cause and every time I was thinking about it, thinking about giving up, I just thought of Terry and what he had to suffer through.”
At the finish line, as Louise wrapped Jude in a big hug, he was just glad to be done.
“In my mind, I thought, ‘It’s over,’” he said.
Louise, meanwhile, felt bursting pride for not only her son’s accomplishment, but that he had the fortitude to try in the first place.
“I’m proud of him every day but because running is my thing—I’ve always loved the distance—so to have him even attempt this was such a source of pride,” she said. “For him to put himself out there and give this a shot, being 11 years old, my heart was exploding as we crossed over.
“There were some tears, definitely, at the finish.”
Jude was exhausted the day after his run, taking the day off of school, but speaking on Sept. 22 after another day of recovery, he felt much improved.
“My ankle was the most sore of all because it was sort of swollen,” he said. “I’m feeling way better than I felt yesterday.”
As of Sept. 23, Jude had raised more than $4,500, smashing his original goal of $500, at terryfox.ca/judethedude. His subsequent goal was $3,339, a dollar for every mile Fox ran and now, having surpassed that, he hopes to pass $5,373, a buck for every kilometre.
In addition to honouring Fox’s memory, Jude also ran to honour his grandpa, who he calls Pop, a two-time cancer survivor.
“He’s so supportive. Whenever I do a trick on skis, he’s always calling me and saying, ‘You did it! Yes!’” Jude said. “At the end of the run, he said, ‘You’re my hero.’”
In addition to Jude’s grandparents cheering him on, his father, Chad, ran the first lap with him before setting up the aid station with chips and candy to help provide a little extra inspiration, while some schoolmates and one of Louise’s running friends also made cameos throughout the day.