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It was June 18, 2006, when Bobbi and Craig Skrynyk, a young couple from Chestermere, Alberta, a tiny city near the eastern edge of the metropolis of Calgary, began what at the time seemed like an impossible dream. That day, they ran their first half marathon in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
When they started this dream, Bobbi was 32 and Craig was 34. They had two children aged 1 and 3. Like any young family, they were busy caring for their little ones and all the usual challenges that life brings. After the kids would go to bed, their evenings were spent sitting down to watch the latest reality T.V. show, on their couch, in the basement.
After getting tired of the same old evening routine, Bobbi suggested that they purchase a treadmill so that they could do something active while watching TV. So they pulled together some Christmas money, and did just that. They began slowly, by walking and running a couple kilometers at a time. As the mileage began to pile up, they made some adjustments to their routine in order for them to have the time to both train. Bobbi would go out to run for 30 minutes to a couple hours. When she returned, Craig would do the same.
Finally, they decided to sign up for that race in Winnipeg. Given that the couple were both former Winnipeggers (born and raised), they thought it was the ideal location for running their first half marathon. It would give them the chance to complete a milestone in front of their families. Ironically, Craig was registered to run that same race, ten years earlier, but missed the opportunity, as he had started a new job in Alberta a week earlier.
It was after completing that first race that Bobbi had bigger plans for their growing interest in running. She suggested that they run 50 half marathons before they turn 50. So they began to turn their attention to doing just that. That first year, the Manitoba was the lone half they completed. However, subsequent years produced 2, 4, 6, and 7 half marathons. This brought them to 2012, and another milestone, their 20th half marathon. They planned to run the Galveston Mardi Gras Half Marathon in the winter of 2012, after returning to the port of Galveston from a Caribbean cruise.
However, Mother Nature had other plans. The morning before the race the cruise ship encountered major fog near the Port of Galveston. The ship was forced to drop anchor and wait out the fog. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen in time to make the race.
As the fog continued the night before the race (knowing there was no way that they could make the race) they decided to make the best of the situation. At 7:30 a.m. the next morning (the start time of the actual race) in the fog and gulf breeze, with their “This is my 20th half marathon” shirts, and Canadian flag on back, completed 141 laps or 21.1 km around the ship’s track.
Bobbi’s parents recorded their laps, and their children gave them water throughout the run. For the last 25 laps or so, there were other passengers cheering them on.
At the end of the run, their children presented them with ship medallions, signifying the completion of an incredible journey.
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Shortly after completing the race, the story received local and eventually international coverage appearing in a couple newspapers and four running magazines, including one in France.
Their son and daughter, who are now 12 and 10, have embraced this lifestyle. They can’t recall a time in their lives when their parents weren’t runners. Roughly six years ago they began with the 1K kids races, followed by the 5K races, then 10K races. The passion has shown through their results as well, having them collectively place first overall or in their age groups 10 times!
The running has taken the couple and in many cases the kids to a number of places, including cities and towns in Alberta, Vancouver, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, Anaheim (Disneyland), Orlando (Disney World), and various cities in Southern Texas.
In 2014, they completed a half marathon once a month. This presented its challenges, as there are a finite number of races around Calgary, mainly during the winter months.
As the couple closed in on completing their goal, the excitement spread to their two children. Both wanted to be part of the 50th half marathon. After consultation with their family doctor, the kids joined in the training for that big race.
Although still young, the kids couldn’t have been better prepared for the Manitoba Half, having their parents coach them and train side-by-side with them. The weekend ritual was training dates, switching off with each other. It gave them all a chance to connect and spend one-on-one time, making for healthier relationships and healthier lifestyles.
On June 21, the magic of completing their incredible journey took place on a beautiful sunny morning in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Once again, in front of their hometown, family and friends, Craig and Bobbi succeeded at completing another half marathon. This time it was their 50th! But, making it even more special, their son and daughter completed their first!
Looking ahead, the Skrynyks are considering a new dream and goal with two parts. The first is to inspire and influence 50 individuals/families to take up running and complete their first race, possibly their favorite—the half marathon. They have inspired a few here and there along the way, but they want to have an even bigger impact on their society. Second, they would like to complete 50 more half marathons. The only question is when they would like to have this goal completed by. Look for the Skrynyks to continue to have an impact on our society.