The Terry Fox Run – the guy that started the event in Burlington watches quietly from the sidelines, pleased that this is its 33rd year.

September 15, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  He will stand there quietly, chat with some of his many friends as he looks over the crowd.  Many lined up at the registration table while others do their stretching exercises to get ready for the Run – The Terry Fox Run for Cancer Research.

It was 33 years ago when Greg Pace organized the first run. “I was all gung-ho at the time – everyone was.  Terry Fox had run his Marathon of Hope and had to give up – but what a lot of people didn’t fully realize was the kid was running the equivalent of a 26 mile marathon every day.  That was a phenomenal achievement and he did it with just the one good leg.”

There isn’t a Canadian alive today who saw that young man work his way from the east coast and through hundreds of Ontario cities, who will ever forget that little hop Terry Fox used to propel himself forward.

Greg Pace with one of the Iron Maidens.

And for Greg Pace, who lost his wife Kim to cancer, that is what it is all about – propelling ourselves forward.  The Terry Fox Run started out at Sherwood Forest  Park back in the 80’s where all we could set up was a 10k run” explained Pace.  “We moved the event downtown but that didn’t work out – the priests at the downtown churches asked us to try and keep it quiet and not use the megaphones – they wanted to be able to finish their church services.”

“I started out by calling the Canadian Cancer Society but they didn’t seem to have their act together so we just organized the event and it took place.  It was a really small committee; Fran Agnew who was working with Rob MacIsaac at the time and Chuck Dooley who is now teaching Phys Ed at Notre dame High school.

We ran the event for seven or eight years until others were able to take it over – and we now watch as young people grow the event.  It`s great to see it continue.

Pace who has been around fitness all his life spent a couple of years at the Cedar Spring Health Club, was the man who opened up the Goodlife Health Club at Burlington Mall.  Worked for a while at the Fitness Institute – one of the first operations totally committed to fitness improvement when it wasn’t seen as a business opportunity.

After working for others Greg decided to strike out on his own and formed Pace Performance where he has settled into working with people who want to prepare for endurance events – Triathlons and Iron Man events.  He formed the Iron Maids that his wife was part of when she was an active athlete.

Doing better than you expected with children there – every step of the way.

When asked what he thinks now as he watches people doing the Run, Pace said it was hard to pin that thought down. “There is nothing better than watching someone do something that is better than they thought they could do” and “nobody thinks the run was a bad idea when they are doing that last 50 metres” he said.  “Everyone comes away with a sense of accomplishment”, he added.

“In the beginning some people thought the Run was part of a wave; something that would peter out over time but today it is bigger and better than it ever was – it certainly has staying power – but then that’s what Terry Fox brought to the Run that he did wasn’t it, said Pace.

The Mayor of a city has the privilege of selecting individuals for special recognition. Rick Goldring recently presented Greg Pace with The Civic Recognition Award.

Greg, said the Mayor, “has been involved and donating his skills and time for various charitable and fitness organizations for over 30 years. Most notably, the Moon in June Road Race which in the last 20 years has raised over $450,000 for local charities and brings thousands of participants and spectators to the Burlington downtown core.”

“For the past four years the Halton Trauma Centre has received the proceeds from this race, raising over $100,000 to help provide assessment and treatment to children and adolescents who have suffered from abuse or neglect.”

Add the Terry Fox Run to that and you have quite a set of accomplishments.  Think about that as you take part in the Terry Fox Run later today.

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