Indigenous coaches leading running group at Wanuskewin
- Tara Campbell | July 31, 2018
With the wide-open prairie sky above and the trails of Wanuskewin Heritage Park below, a whole new world will be open up to a group of beginner runners this August.
Indigenous coaches Gisele and Jill George will lead participants of the Brainsport Running Academy Wanuskewin Learn to Run Course through a seven-week long running clinic in preparation for the Race Against Racism being held on September 22 at Victoria Park in Saskatoon.
“I’m pretty excited we were chosen to lead this course because this is the first Brainsport Running Academy course done at Wanuskewin,” said Jill George. “To be able to share some of the information and culture from Wanuskewin with maybe some participants that this is their first time at Wanuskewin is pretty special.”
Brian Michasiw, founder and owner of Brainsport, is equally excited about the opportunity to introduce more people to the wonders of Wanuskewin Heritage Park and to promote it as a place to run.
“It’s a perfect facility for a learn to run course,” said Michasiw. “By hosting this Brainsport Running Academy course there I hope to help plant the seed that it’s more than a museum; that it can be a place for people to live a healthy and active lifestyle.”
Michasiw, who is a six-time Saskatchewan Marathon winner, said the beauty of the park, coupled with its diverse path system of open flat gravel trails and the undulating hills of the valley, make it an ideal setting for beginners, as well as more seasoned runners. In addition to the ideal terrain, Michasiw says there’s also something else that is a draw to the park.
“You can feel there’s a special spirit there,” said Michasiw. “It’s like you’re a part of something bigger.” That energy, the beauty and the simple functionality of the park will provide the backdrop for the George sisters to inspire a new group of runners, as well as a new group of Wanuskewin enthusiasts.
“My hope is that participants get a different experience of Wanuskewin through the running academy, but then also come back to Wanuskewin on their own time,” said Jill.
When it comes to learning and running, Gisele George says this is an opportunity for newcomers to the sport to get a taste of what it means to challenge themselves and grow, not only as runners, but as people living healthy lifestyles.
“I think running is a great way for anyone to get active,” said Gisele. “One of the reasons I like running is because you’re always trying to better your personal best; it's not so much about competing against others - it’s how you can improve and do better.”
Throughout the seven-week course participants will be eased into training as the George sisters prepare them to take part in The Race Against Racism on September 22. Runners will have their choice of running the 2.5K, 5K and 10K distance.
The Race Against Racism is held annually by the Saskatoon Police Service with the goal of providing a positive environment for people of all backgrounds to promote an active lifestyle. The welcoming nature of this event makes it a nice fit for new runners. There’s no pressure - simply the opportunity to go out there and put into practice what they have learned.