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New Westminster Terry Fox Run moves to the riverfront

Kathy Jones says despite Queen’s Park’s beautiful setting, some have complained about the hills at past Terry Fox runs. This year, it should be smooth sailing. - Grant Granger/NEWSLEADER
Kathy Jones says despite Queen’s Park’s beautiful setting, some have complained about the hills at past Terry Fox runs. This year, it should be smooth sailing.
— image credit: Grant Granger/NEWSLEADER

As it was being built Kathy Jones kept her eye on Westminster Pier Park (WPP).

It wasn’t for its spectacular views of the Fraser River or its idyllic setting, although both were highly desirable to her as well.

The family physician coveted its topography or, to be more precise, lack of topography. The park is long and flat which, she thought, just might be what the doctor ordered for the annual Terry Fox Run in New Westminster—an event she has been organizing since 2009.

The event has always been held in Queen’s Park, on the 2.5-kilometre Millennium Trail that meanders through the iconic and picturesque park. That length was perfect because it provided participants the options of doing one, two, three or four laps. But its biggest drawback, according to the feedback Jones received, was the hills.

“For as long as I’ve been in New Westminster the run has been in Queen’s Park which has been a great and easy location. But to do 10 kilometres means four loops of the Millennium Trail which is tough because of the hills,” says Jones, who even tried changing the direction of the run to see if that would help. “It doesn’t matter. If you go down a hill you still have to go up a hill.”

At first, Jones thought of the boardwalk at the Westminster Quay because it’s flat as well as scenic. But a 2.5-km route would have required shutting down a street and that would have cost too much.

But as soon as WPP opened, Jones and her family were down there with their running shoes on and toting a GPS gizmo. They started walking from the far end of the pier park all the way to the western end of the boardwalk (near the Third Avenue overpass).

It was 2.5 km exactly. No hills.

“I was thrilled to bits. It was exactly the length I needed,” says Jones, clapping her hands. “It’s got the potential to be the perfect location.”

So after getting the go-ahead from city hall and other authorities that’s exactly where this year’s run will be held on Sept. 16.

Jones says the New West run has grown steadily the last few years to about 300 runners and volunteers. She’s hoping the change of venue, and terrain, will help it grow even more.

There are other advantages. Registration will be in the food court at the River Market starting at 9 a.m.

That solves the problem of wet paper that sometimes surfaced when it rained at Queen’s Park.

The race will start from the Market at 10 a.m., and since it’s smack in the middle, those wanting to do just a 2.5-km loop can do so by just going to the far end of the pier park and back.

“It’s very exciting. It’s going to be a terrific location for an event like this,” says Jones, who points out there’s also lots of parking with easy access to SkyTrain.

As a 22-year-old medical student in 1980, Jones was inspired by Fox’s Marathon of Hope that raised money for cancer research.

She has also been moved by her frequent encounters with patients in her Sapperton practice who have the deadly disease, as well as the passing of her father from lung cancer.

For more information go to the foundation’s website, www.terryfox.org.

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