Thank you to all entrants. Please visit the semifinalist page to view the top ten essays as determined by our panel and the public voting. Click here to view the top ten
The 1992 Vancouver International Marathon
Why I Love Vancouver
To paraphrase, it’s like the great tales, Dark and dangerous so scary you didn’t want to know the ending. When so much bad had happened how could there possibly be a happy ending. In the depths of the darkest despair it seemed like all hope was lost. But as Samwise said we fight for all that is good and right in this world. This is unlike any quest of journeys. Yet it happened on the very streets of Vancouver.
I arrived in Vancouver in the early spring of 1991. I was coming from a very dark place. A drink taken in my youth had turned into a 14 year descent of pain, torment and turmoil. I was completely consumed and lost in the world of a hardcore alcoholic. A lot of days you’re messed up to care, but in brief glimpse of emotion there is shame, embarrassment, a helpless, hopeless, feeling of no way out.
In the emotional wreck that was my life I made a decision a move to Vancouver I figured was my only hope. If you stay in your environment, same people, same routine. It’s the path of least resistance.
Like all great alcoholics this was a grand idea. With really no practical way to implement this so called big plan of redemption I found myself in Vancouver. I arrived in Vancouver with little money, no place to go, barely functioning and not really capable of holding a job. So night one in Vancouver, was off to the nearest bar on the down town eastside. Hours later all money spent, but saved from the streets, a couch to sleep on by luck.
Then a small room rental with the help of the government, but it was a conflicting time, wanting sobriety, seeming so out of reach. This was always on my mind so its do what you know, so drinking it was. I got to know the down town bars, but I got to know the neighborhood as well some of the shops, the local grocery store, and the parks.
Down town Vancouver with its drinkers, addicts, all that and much more full of people with a life and a vibrancy that is full of energy. Even in my small alcoholic world I felt the love of the city that energy, that life force.
Then it happened on June 30th I got totally wrecked. On July 1st yes Canada Day I woke up deathly alcoholic sick. In desperate need of a drink desperate need of sobriety. Something had to give…… I’m going to do this; I’m going to run the Vancouver Marathon. The thought in my darkest hour, well you can’t run the marathon and be an alcoholic.
On July 1st 1992 I chose not to take that next drink. I was in extreme pain that day and the next days to come. In the initial days I was detoxing on my own it was all pain, but my hope of running in the marathon was in the back of my mind. This was just the start there was a long way to go.
Mentally emotionally, psycho-logically you are much challenged. Every little thing is a temptation for a big fall. So it’s not tomorrow it’s just make it in this moment and if you make it in a weak moment you make it another day.
In ultra-slow motion days become weeks and weeks turn into months. I was determined not let this vibrant city consume me. I said Vancouver Marathon, but sobriety in the initial phase was the main achievement.
Training was a means of inspiration and self- motivation, to continue the quest. It was walk before you can run, into early winter days. I would get to know Vancouver in a different way. I would walk 6 to 8 hour training sessions through the streets of Vancouver. Thus starting from the corner of Main and Hasting, I got to know Vancouver very well.
Walks along Hastings toward Burnaby I would walk past Queen Elizabeth Park out to Jericho Beach I went far and wide through the streets of Vancouver. In my emerging sobriety, I was able to see Vancouver in a more different way.
New to sobriety I had to find different ways to pass my time. One was watching Monday night football this became a weekly tradition. I made my way to the Expo Plaza Restaurant. They had draw prizes of movie tickets BC Lions tickets; this gave me some outside things form training.
By December it was time to go from walk phase to run phase. Winter turned into spring with continued sobriety and marathon training in full force. I was completely naïve I was self-training myself from a book. I didn’t know how to enter a marathon event; Vancouver was going to be my debut to road racing.
I continued my quest in Vancouver training throughout the roads of Vancouver. By chance I heard about the Vancouver Marathon on the radio, sometime in April 1992. Thus I was entered for the remanding chance I so longed for I was consumed by this dark journey. It was Vancouver that changed me this vibrant city I once lived.
It was time to inform my family about my sobriety and the marathon quest. Through all the pain and stupidly of an alcoholic, one thing remained in the end my family still loved me. I had my support team that day finally race day, it was all excitement Jangled nerves to make it to the start line was a big achievement. In less than a year to go from hard core alcoholic bashed, beaten, a lost soul to a Vancouver Marathon runner…. It was tough, but it was glorious 42.2k run of sobriety, through the streets of Vancouver. I will never achieve anything bigger than sobriety; Vancouver International Marathon played a very significant part in that journey. Vancouver will always be near and dear to my heart!