For me, running isn’t always about competing in races, running your hardest or even obtaining PBs. It is certainly part of it, but I think what attracts me most to the sport is its accessibility. Anyone with a pair of running shoes, a bit of energy, and a sense of adventure can get out the door and get going! Then I hear some pretty inspirational stories that stem from the simple act of running. My nomination for a hometown hero is actually shared between two people I’ve recently met, Mike and Braden Anderson.
Mike and I met only about a month ago when I came across a posting on my condo’s Facebook page (how “Toronto” is it that our condo has one of these?!) from Mike asking if there were any runners living here who were up for a run. Always being the keener, I volunteered myself as a running buddy as Mike was in training for the Around the Bay 30K race. We got together that weekend and set off for our planned 29-30km long run. Between my ramblings about what I do for work and my awesome new racing flats I recently acquired, Mike told me all about his amazing son, Braden. Braden is a 17 year old teenager very much into his video games and TV watching, but what is different about him is that he is living with Autism.
According to the Autism Society of Canada, “Autism is a neurological disorder which causes developmental disability… [and] affects the way the brain functions, resulting in difficulties with communication and social interaction, and unusual patterns of behaviour, activities and interests”. Sailing through the 10th kilometer of our run, Mike told me how he began to take his son with him on some of his runs. Braden has trouble with his coordination and participating in certain sports, but he seemed to really enjoy running! He seemed to really focus on what he was doing and most importantly, he was getting the exercise a teenager needs and he was having a blast doing it! Soon enough, both father and son were entering races together, including the Toronto Zoo Run, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 5K, and the recent Achilles 5K. It was in the latter race that Braden scored his best time yet, ranking 9th in his age group and running an amazing 27:31 for 5.4km!
By the end of Mike and I’s 30.3km run that day, I was very inspired by this story and continue to keep track of this father and son running machine through pictures and Facebook posts. It is why they both share my hometown hero nomination for the city of Toronto!
About the Author: Olivier Dyason is a full time working professional whose newfound love for running has turned into a new obsession. After obtaining a B.A. in Film Studies from Carleton University in Ottawa, Olivier began work at the National Film Board of Canada as a Team Leader and Events Coordinator. Although a middle-of-the-packer now, Olivier hopes to steadily improve his running through constant training and advice from places such as Runners Feed.