I’ll never forget my first day at the Callingwood Running Room……

Actually the first, first day was walking in, chatting with the then manager Doug McQueen, and signing up for that Learn to Run Clinic……..

That first Saturday, I think it was at 9:00?……Doug, his 2 group leaders (Lorna?) …and a group of about 10 of us, sitting on the floor, on carpet (remember that?)..cotton t-shirts, mimeographed manual…..I have no idea what the talk was about (Doug could talk, and talk….I think there was something about chocolate chip cookies and Doug’s first attempt at making coffee…his 30 minute talks always lasted at least an hour…if you had anything to do at 10 o’clock forget it, you were going to be late) then we ran, my first run…I could have sworn we did 10 and 1s, but I may be wrong…..that was I think August 1996……yes, the roads were paved…but not all of them……a lot of what’s off of 178th ave and Lessard Road now, wasn’t there…just wide open fields and gravel.)

That wasn’t the epiphany though, it was at 9:30 while we were there, and when the Saturday morning run club started coming in. That was the Run Club….they were real runners…….every Saturday.

That clinic lead me to my first fun run, the CIBC Run for the Cure out of the U of A Butterdome….which amazing, and another story.

After that clinic ended, a few of us said, ‘we’ve been doing this for 10 weeks, why not just keep showing up Saturdays for Run Club?’ …some of us did, I pretty much never left.

That was the turning point (yes I say ‘that‘ a lot?)

That group pretty much surrounded me and we all ran together..a whole new group of people, that just ran……Carmine, Marty, Troy and I forget who else…Steve came later…

we didn’t run 10 and ones, just ran, we all re-grouped at a few spots to chat, and once everyone was back together we ran again…as a group…..and finished off at Grabajabba for coffee and cinnamon buns (with or without raisins?)….and spent more time there then we actually did during that run…I was hooked.

The start….it just kept getting better..other races, a night run through the ravines, it was someone’s birthday (Troy?)….back at the store ended with a bday cake with cash in it…

.the Candy Cane Lane runs came from that, trips to Death Race, huge groups to the Vancouver marathon, and lifelong friendships….runs to Urban Fair…..Bright Nights at Hawrelak Park….

Callingwood was always about more than just the runs……at the time our run club was pretty much every day….show up at 6PM on any given Monday or a Tuesday, there’d be someone else to run with…sometimes just driving by, see someone’s car there, stop in and ask, do you want to go for a run? Thursdays, Fridays became women’s only, Saturday mornings for run and coffee (which was pretty much every run..

There was that Wednesday night, two of us wanted distance, and someone else wanted a hill repeat night….and was ticked off when he was out voted….so we ran to the Hawrelak Park for distance and lots of hills along the waythen the joke was on us, when we got back, the door to the store was locked with our keys inside…..lucky for us, manager Doug who was with us lived close by.

There was that run through the Valley Zoo, before it was opened one morning, not sure we were supposed to be in there alone Doug?..we ran around, looking for an exit, because we thought there was another exit on the other end…how did we not get arrested?…..then there were the short cuts through West Edmonton Mall… the river (those with new shoes were not happy)……how many back yards did we run through? And there was always that trail left behind by a fox or a rabbit that we just had to follow into the river valley

All those late night coffee nights, trips to Brewster’s…..the Marty Parties!…

it seemed like everywhere we ran or went, there was always a party….or at least food…

Sharing hotel rooms at races (6 guys to a room at the Grande Cache Inn) then we all got mountain bikes….riding what we called area 51?……road bikes, triathlons…IRONMAN!……

and so many friends….

Since we’ve lost a few, their memories are always in our hearts and memories…..

relationships were created….and at times our spouses became runner’s widows….we’d sometimes spend more time at Callingwood no matter the weather than we did with those we were married too….

Running down the road in balaclavas, scaling hills from the North Saskatchewan River pushing someone’s butt ahead of us….through Wolf Willow Farm (and seeing the no trespassing sign after we jumped over that fence)…across the Edmonton Country Club golf course…..remember what things looked like before we had the Wolf Willow Stairs…..

After 7PM December 23rd……..memories, history, good memories…….after this month only the silence will remain….

May be an image of 2 people, people standing and outdoors

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