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Four hundred runners, one worthy cause

YFC Runway Run supports mental health association

By Andrew Wagstaff
Maritime Runner
May 30, 2017

LINCOLN, N.B. – The YFC Runway Run was not just another 5K run for Kristine Eliakis.
A fundraiser for the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick, the annual run at the Fredericton International Airport is for a cause that she not only support, but lives everyday.
Eliakis lost her father to suicide when she was only eight years old, and her son lost his father to suicide in 2014.
“I believe it has taken me this long to gather the strength and to understand that I need to contribute (more) to the growing society that support those with mental illness,” she said.

Terra Deell (left) and Amanda Burns were among the 400 participants in this year’s YFC Runway Run on Saturday, May 27, in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick.

Photo courtesy of YFC Runway Run

“Through the years I have been on both sides of the coin,” she added. “I’ve encountered people who relate, empathize, sympathize and live the reality of it. I’ve also had the misfortune of crossing paths with those who turn a blind eye to mental illness, and don’t believe or want to believe that this is a genuine illness.”
Mental illness is a struggle she knows all too well.
When she found out about the YFC Runway Run, she was too late to participate in 2016, but was among the first to sign up for this year’s event, which took place on Saturday, May 27.
The event began in 2015 as a partnership between the airport authority and the Capital City Road Runners, a local running club in Fredericton. Club members Jos Eijkelestam and Corena Walby came on board as race directors, and decided with airport authority communications officer Kate O’Rourke to support the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick as their charity of choice.
The run is now a partnership between the airport authority, the running club and the mental health association.
“The goal is to raise money and awareness for mental health in our region,” said Walby. “The airport sponsors a large amount of the costs associated with the event (medals and swag), and the rest of the expenses are handled through the registration costs.”
The remaining proceeds from registration, pledges, donations, etc., go to the mental health association.
The 5K run takes place on the airport runway, where weather can be unpredictable, but this year brought mild/comfortable temperatures.
This year’s event drew another sellout crowd.
“We always sell out, so we have increased our numbers each year to accommodate the overwhelming response,” said Walby. “This year, we had increased to 400 runners, and we sold out months ago. Who knows what we might be able to do for next year, maybe even more.”
First across the finish line Saturday was Kumaran Thillainadarajah, with a time of 20:29, followed closely by Dan Gahan at 20:33, and top female Rachel Hopper at 20:36.
“The run was a lot of fun,” said Hopper. “It was different to run on an actual runway, and it was a super unique experience. The music and the supportive crowd also made the race really enjoyable.”
In fourth place was Eric Hopper at 20:40, while second female was Kelsey Tucker at 21:43, and third was Sabrina Kenny at 23:02.
For compete official results by Atlantic Chip, visit here .
As for next year, there is one runner who promises to be back. Eliakis already has two goals for the 2018 event: to raise more than $2,000 for the cause, and to finish in the top 100.