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Olds Terry Fox Run remains in flux due to COVID

Too early to know if it will Terry Fox Run be in-person, virtual or a combination of the two
MVT Noel D'Arcy-1 cr
Olds Terry Fox Run organizer Noel D'Arcy is amazed that last fall's run actually raised $12 more than the 2019 edition, despite COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. File photo/MVP Staff

OLDS — When interviewed, Terry Fox Run organizer Noel D’Arcy said the event was still planned to occur on Sept. 19, starting at 11 a.m., and still expected to be an outdoor, in-person event, but due to COVID, that could change at any time right up until the date, he warned.

The Terry Fox Run raises money for cancer research via the Terry Fox Foundation.

It is named in honour of Terry Fox, a cancer patient who ran across Canada in 1980 in the Marathon of Hope to raise money for cancer research. 

Unfortunately, the cancer spread and Fox was unable to finish his run. He passed away in 1981. He was 22 years old.

D’Arcy noted that last year’s event in Olds was a combination in-person and virtual event. People could run, walk or cycle in either one; whichever one suited them best. In the virtual event, people could participate at whatever time worked for them.

Because the virtual event was different than previous in-person ones, D’Arcy had not expected to raise as much money as in past years.

But he was pleasantly surprised when Terry Fox Foundation officials told him it was $4,672, up $12 from the 2019 total of $4,660. He’s hoping the same will occur this year, whether it’s in-person, virtual or both.

If it’s in-person, D’Arcy said the event will start and end just outside the Olds fire department hall, starting at 11 a.m., with a barbecue to follow. 

When interviewed, D’Arcy said there was no need for people to wear masks. But there will be other rules.

“The people attending, we’ll be discouraging (them) coming into the fire hall but we will congregate at the front of the fire hall facing on to Memorial Way there,” he said.

“AHS (Alberta Health Services) have given us the OK and we’re going to go ahead with an in-person event, same as previous years. We just would encourage some social distancing.”

Hand sanitizer will be available outside the fire hall, he said.

There will be two courses: a 10-kilometre one and a five-kilometre one, both of which will meander entirely through the south end of Olds. At no point will they cross Highway 27.

However, they will come close to the highway, just after participants head out from the fire hall. 

"To get people from the fire hall to there, that’s kind of the most challenging piece, so we’re going to have lots of (traffic) cones set up there, we’re going to have lots of people out there with stop signs, just for that amount of time that people are running, walking and biking from the hall to there,” D’Arcy said.

“That’s where we want to make sure they’re safe and get to the sidewalk without getting run over.”

When people finish the run, a barbecue will be set up. It too will operate under special conditions to keep people safe.

“People will serve your food to you. It'll be the same person serving, so there’s no cross-contamination,” D’Arcy said.

“We’ll also encourage the use of hand sanitizer and practise social distancing as best you can outside the fire hall if you’re going to hang out and have a hotdog or whatever.”

D’Arcy said the barbecue is an important way for people to socialize and wind down after they’ve run, walked or cycled, so he’s hopeful they’ll be able to hold it.

He stressed the run is a “family-friendly event” so whole families are encouraged to take part. They can bring their pets along too if they wish.

D’Arcy admitted that due to COVID and the fact that more restrictions could be announced at any day, Terry Fox Run organizers can’t say for sure what the event will look like on Sept. 19; whether it will be all in-person, totally virtual or a combination of the two.

“Unfortunately, that’s the way of the world we’re living in right now. We’re kind of living in limbo with everything that’s going on,” he said.

People planning to participate are encouraged to check out the Olds Fire Department’s Facebook page for the latest updates.