Doing a fitness challenge for charity

This summer, some of us on the Best Health team threw ourselves into a range of physical challenges to raise money for charity. Check out our stories and get inspired

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bonnie bike

Bonnie Munday, Editor-in-chief

“I have no idea what I’m getting into.” That’s what I said to family and friends after I signed up for a cycling trip of 350 kilometres from one end of P.E.I. to the other. On a whim, and at a time when I needed an emotional boost, I had registered for the trip with a tour company called Two-Wheeling Women. It would be with 12 women I’d never met. A deposit was required, so there was no backing out.

I’d never done a ride that was longer than a few hours. Last summer, my first-ever cycling season, I did my first charity ride: the one-day 100K Ride for Karen. It was tough, so finishing that was an amazing feeling. When I signed up for the P.E.I. ride, I guess somewhere in the back of my mind was the thought that I might get that rush again-if I could finish it.

But six consecutive days in the saddle? In unpredictable Maritime weather? With potentially strong ocean winds along the route’s coastal roads? What if I was super-slow compared to the others? Would the group even be friendly? Might I get there and want to come home by Day 2?

Here’s how it turned out: The ride was tough in terms of weather and wind. Leg-burning, butt-aching tough. (Yes, P.E.I. does have hills.) But there were oysters, mussels, lobster and fish & chips-consumed with not a bit of guilt, since we were burning calories in the four digits every day. And those coastal, rural roads? Gorgeous. I was not slow compared with the group, and it wouldn’t have mattered if I had been: The organizers, Jacki and Beth, made sure nobody got left behind, and that everyone felt good about what they’d achieved each hour of each day. The people of P.E.I. were unbelievably friendly and helpful. And the other women on the trip? The nicest, most fun and laid-back group I could hope to spend a week with.

It was such a rush I felt a bit guilty that there wasn’t a charitable element, that I was doing this just for me. (I’ve signed up for two charity rides to take place in mid-August and September: Tour for Kids and Ride for Karen.) So I decided to donate $350-one dollar for every kilometre-to a P.E.I.-based charity headed up by Chef Michael Smith called The Village Feast, which contributes to causes including a P.E.I. food bank and the building of a school cookhouse in Kenya.

Here’s what others on the BH team challenged themselves to do this summer:

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Melissa Greer, Content producer

I did my first-ever run for charity: the Goodlife Fitness 5K run. That was a rush, so I signed up for the Sporting Life 10K, which raises money for a camp for children with cancer. I surprised myself by running the whole 10K. (For both of those, I chose to donate via the registration fee.) Then my boyfriend, Mark, and I signed up for the Scion City Chase, an event that raises money for Right To Play. We donated $50, the cost for one child to enjoy Right To Play’s programming for a year. (Here’s a photo of me before the race.) Over six hours, pairs race between checkpoints hidden throughout Toronto (it’s estimated you’ll run five to 10K in total), and do a physical or mental challenge at each-synchronized swiming, a canoe portage, puzzles and even handling a tarantula! We ended up placing 11th out of 46 in the Enduro-Chase portion. Exhilaration! It was totally exhausting but so much fun. For next fall, I’m thinking I’ll take on the Scotiabank Half Marathon. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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jennifer walker

Jennifer Walker, Deputy Editor

I did the Shoppers Drug Mart Run for Women, which raises funds for the Women’s Mental Health Program at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. (Thanks to my family for helping me reach my goal of $300.)

I did it with a great group of women who are my neighbours; we jokingly dubbed ourselves The Real Hot Wives of Nellie Little (the name of our street). Not being a runner, I intended to walk the 5K, but on race day decided to do run/walk intervals. I felt really proud of myself for pushing my limits and have vowed to sign up for another event that’ll be more challenging-Tanya (pictured) is suggesting a ladies’ mud run called a Mudderella-gulp!

(Image: Showing off our event bracelets, from left: Tracey Poole, Antonella Rulli, Annette Giffen, Tanya Roxborough, Jennifer Walker, Laurel Cutting)

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melissa williams

Melissa Williams, Marketing Solutions Manager

For the third time, I did the Canada Life CN Tower Climb, which supports the World Wildlife Fund. I raised $625 this year for what I feel is an important cause; as a society, we often take animals for granted. There are 1,776 stairs in the CN Tower-a scary number! It requires a solid training plan of cardio and endurance. But the toughest part of the climb is mental: pushing through leg cramps, looking up to see that you’re only at Floor 20 when there are another 124 to go. But I set a steady pace and kept pumping myself up with positive thoughts and mini-milestones as I climbed. Reaching the top (in 20 minutes and 30 seconds) without stopping made me feel so proud…. I felt I could do anything I set my mind to. My goal next year is to do it in under 20 minutes.

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hill running run desert

Share your charity challenge experience with us

Beyond personal accomplishment, it’s even better when you know you’ve helped a worthy cause. All year long across Canada, there are umpteen charity events involving some kind of physical challenge, from 5K walks to 20K paddles to boot camps to triathlons. And for sure, many of you have done at least one: You’ve paid the registration fee and/or fundraised, you’ve trained for the big day-and felt amazing afterwards. Was it the Shoppers Drug Mart Weekend to End Women’s Cancers? The Superwalk for Parkinson Society Canada? Becel Heart & Stroke Ride For Heart? Did you walk, run, hike or bike with Team Diabetes, or did you Golf Fore the Cure? Paddle for Prostate Cancer Canada? Did you do the Kidney Foundation’s Give the Gift of Life Walk, or maybe CARE Canada’s Walk in Her Shoes?

If so, you have bragging rights. We want to hear your stories and see your photos, and we want to publish some of them. Let’s share in celebrating what we’ve done for ourselves, and for others.

Best Health Challenge
How to prepare for a charity walk
Completing a 100 km cycling challenge

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