On September 2, Smithers resident Lindsay Hewson will test her endurance in a way most would consider a test of sanity, when she will attempt to run over 75 km, with over 6,000 m of elevation change, in the Grand Canyon – all to raise awareness of mental illness.
The run, known as the Rim To Rim To Rim (or R2R2R), is one of the most challenging runs on the continent. Hewson is expecting to start at around 4 a.m. with four other runners, and head from the South Rim to the North Rim and back again, with temperatures that could range from over 35°C to barely above freezing.
“I’m betting we’ll take about 17 hours to do it,” she said.
She has been training with several other runners around Smithers, mostly running the mountain bike trails on the Bluff, and some routes in the Babines – the day she spoke to The Interior News, she had just completed a run up the Lyon Creek trail, across to the McCabe trail and back down the mountain. As far as terrain goes, Smithers is the perfect place to train for the R2R2R.
“The trails in Smithers are just unreal,” she said. “In order to run, you need trails to not be rocks and blowdown everywhere.”
The only factor life in Smithers can’t account for when training is temperature. The temperature at the North Rim in early September is likely to be around a high of 35°C, a heat alien to Smthers during even the hottest summers.
“I think the biggest challenge is going to be hydration,” said Hewson.
The reason the group is running is to raise funds and awareness for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), specifically a ‘Youth and Mental Health’ fund that will help develop an e-learning tool for teachers. Although part of the reason she decided to take part was the challenge, that in itself wasn’t enough to convince Hewson to complete the punishing run.
“I wouldn’t just do an 80 km run for the heck of it. I really support the cause,” she said.
As a Registered Nurse at the Bulkley Valley District Hospital, Hewson can appreciate the importance of raising awareness of mental health issues.
Growing up in Victoria and seeing how people can end up homeless because of mental illness also made an impact.
“Mental health is a huge aspect of health in general,” she said. “For a lot of people, it’s just coming to light that some of these people living on the streets aren’t just crazy, they’re sick, and their illness deserves to be treated.”
Her team’s goal is to raise $20,000 for the CMHA; so far they’re just under halfway there. Having known people directly affected by relatives with mental health issues, Hewson has seen how it can affect even those without their own illness.
To donate to Lindsay’s run, visit http://bit.ly/nCN4g5, call the CMHA at 613-745-7750, or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.