When the crowds queue up at the start line for the second annual Terry Fox Training Run this Sunday, among the crowd will be Bob Comartin and a good deal of his PoCo Run Club members.
For some, the 16-km route — or 10 miles, as it was recorded in Terry's training journals back in 1980 — fits perfectly into their half-marathon training plan. Others gearing up for a 10-km event are aiming to run what they can and walk the rest.
Any effort is worthy — and worth it — says the perpetually upbeat Comartin.
"Just get out there and push yourself a little bit," he says with a grin, much like Fox did as he logged 3,059.5 miles of training leading up to his cross-country run.
It's a philosophy Comartin has lived by ever since he was a nine-year-old in Windsor, Ont. and saw the kid from PoCo in the midst of his 1980 Marathon of Hope.
"I remember my mom calling us to the TV to tell us what this young fellow was doing," Comartin said, recalling how the family followed Fox's progress every night on the news. "I was too young to really understand… but since then, Terry has motivated me in my life, not just to be a better runner but also to help others."
That inspiration has guided much of Comartin's life, whether it's encouraging as many people as he can to be active or looking for ways to make the world around him a better place.
He studied kinesiology and worked as a Port Coquitlam recreation program co-ordinator while at the same time honing the skills of high-level athletes as the lead strength and conditioning specialist with the Canadian national curling team program.
About four years ago, he traded in the rigorous travel schedule the curling team demanded for life as an elementary school teacher. Comartin now leads a Grade 2/3 class at Irvine elementary, where he also organizes the Terry Fox School Run each fall.
"Give me a mic and put me in front of the school to talk about running — I love it," Comartin said.
He also started the popular PoCo Run Club, which boasts about 140 members, and is thrilled to include the Terry Fox Training Run on the group's training schedule, rain or shine.
Last year's inaugural event had runners following in Fox's footsteps through the Tri-Cities in a steady downpour — Comartin swears by a well-placed garbage bag and a sense of humour, saying, "We laugh in the face of rain!" — but Sunday's forecast so far promises nothing but sun.
Whatever the training goal, Comartin looks forward to encouraging others, one mile at a time.
"It's not chipped, there are no prizes," he said. "It's really just about getting the community involved."
• The Terry Fox Training Run starts at 8:30 a.m. at Westwood elementary (3610 Hastings St., PoCo). The community walk (about 2 km) starts at 11 a.m. Registration for both events begins one hour before the start time, or online at www.terryfox.org/trainingrun.