Two love stories – stories of two trails

A couple years ago a friend of mine asked me to participate in a FKT for a section of the Bruce trail. I was to run 2 sections. I went early to the first section to scout out the terrain and not having run the Bruce trail in a while, familiarize myself with the blazes again. As I jogged the first bit wondering if I was in the right place and also wondering if I should go grab some food before the run, I passed a young couple sitting by an old stone foundation. A beautiful  setting, stones and foliage still glistening from the earlier rain. I nodded and passed by. I scouted out the first 2 K or so and thought that it would be a breeze to complete the distance in the time allotted for this section. I made my way back and the young couple were still there. As I approached they were both beaming with a freshness. The young man, perhaps 28 or so, approached me and asked if I could take their picture. Of course I said. The couple responded by saying that in the few minutes since I had first passed by, the young man had surprised the young lady with a proposal, ” Will you marry me ?”. She had accepted and I was the first to know. The light in their eyes and the absolute joy they exuded was so present. I told them I would be honoured and took several photos of their special moment in the woods.

That fall, I was married to my lovely bride, Nancy. We were determined to do our own decorations and I said I had a vision of what we could do with the Lion’s Club hall at Ashbridges Bay. I saw unbleached  linen cascading from the ceiling backed by tiny white lights. I saw pumpkins and gourds from my cottage as center pieces. Most of all I saw leaves of bright orange, fiery red and brilliant yellow covering the hanging linen in a beautiful mosaic. The day before the big day, everyone came together to gather the leaves. I knew exactly where we needed to go. We headed to the single track trails of the Don where I run every day. Two families coming together to join, share and find fallen beauty in the most beautiful place I know. The forest was spectacular, awash in deep crimson, burnt orange and yellows of amber and gold. Carefully applying them to our wedding canopy we created my “vision”. To this day, I am teased about my “vision” and I laugh right along but on that day, just over two years ago, we brought together two people in love, two families, and the trails I love were right there, overhead and sheltering me as always. The autumn is the most beautiful time to run the trails and as I did so yesterday my mind wandered to thoughts of falling in love in the woods, remarkable moments and how truly lucky I am.

Footnote:  I was born in Toronto, grew up here and lived here all my life. I was raised in the old railway housing in Summerhill. The city is a big part of who I am and why I run. You can see this is in another story. 


Running through my life

Hi Everyone

So the Yorkville 5K was the past weekend. The race was great and a lot of fun and all that stuff. It was nice to some folks I hadn’t seen in a while. It was nice to race for the first time in a long time. All that was very cool.

So the staging area and race area was at Jesse Ketchum Public School. I told my wife about some of the work I have done at the school, I work for the school board. The school is a great old inner city school which hasn’t changed much over the years, I love old schools with the thin strip hardwood floors and the cleaning smell. Jesse Ketchum is also where I first went to school. I went to the daycare there as well as part of kindergarten. I learned to play chess and had a best friend named Godfrey. I can easily close my eyes and see me on the blue mats at nap time or in the playground. Much of it is exactly the same. My brother used to ask on most days how many hockey cards I had won in flips or knockdown or closest to the wall. On most days it was quite a stack.

This past February I lost my mom. She was nearly 94. She was, as almost every mom was or is the greatest person who ever lived. Everything she ever did tasted great, made me feel great or was just another ordinary everyday miracle. One of her bits of magic was that from time to time she would pick me up from school and we would walk home. My mom didn’t drive and walked everywhere. The walk home was along Berryman St where there was a tiny penny candy store with a glass display, where for only a few pennies, you know me I am in the 50 + age group, you could buy a paper bag full on spearmint leaves, strawberry marshmallows etc. By the time we walked home to Ottawa St the bag was empty and my dinner was never spoiled. Those days didn’t happen often but enough so I keenly remember them.

One day, my kindergarten teacher called my parents to come into the school for a meeting. She told my parents that all I did was run around the classroom. My mom turned to me and asked if that was so. I told her yes and said that that’s what we were supposed to do. The teacher quickly corrected me with a “No, we are not supposed to run around the class and thats why mom and dad are here, it needs to stop”. My mom looked a little concerned and said ” Lawrence, stop running around the classroom, run around outside, perhaps in the woods”. So that’s what I have been doing ever since. I added the woods part but hey it is a trail running blog so I have licence.

My mom came to see me not long after that, win the 100 m dash in grade school and so many more races after that one. So mom, that Canadian 5 K 50-54 Championship is for you. In the place where it kinda started I thought of you at the finish.