For the 12th consecutive year, Streetfront students and staff drove down to Seattle and ran the Seattle Marathon. Streetfront teacher Trevor Stokes says things have changed over the past decade. Instead of one boy running alongside his teacher as happened in 2001, this year Streetfront fielded a running team of 10 kids who ran the full marathon (42.2 km). Another three students ran the half marathon (21.2 km). Stokes said the program benefited from the support of two super volunteers including Ben Proctor and VPD officer and marathon trainer Brandon Steele.
This year like many other past years started with the annual "Black Friday Sleepover", where the running team slept over in class to avoid the perils of sleeping in.
"The portable becomes filled with the sights, sounds and smells of a dozen kids who have trained, laughed and struggled together for months or years," said Stokes. "Waking up at 5:15 am to pack up, we are met by the other Streetfronters who got themselves to the portable right on departure time."
After piling onto the bus driven by Barry the bus driver, the running team held their breath as they entered into the US and headed straight for the outlet mall. After some initial shopping was done, it was off to the Marathon Expo where all the kids and staff volunteered for four hours.
"This volunteer commitment is a huge part of the weekend," said Stokes. "The Seattle Marathon Association comps all of our entry fees to the marathon (over $2000 worth) because of the kid's effort at the Expo."
After volunteering, it was dinner time. Each year a huge team meal is always planned. During the meal, students and Streetfront staff reminisced about previous marathon experiences and re-told countless Streetfront stories.
"The evening is so special. I sit back and am beyond proud that I've been able to witness every aspect of this," said Stokes. "We wallow out, bellies full, heading towards the hotel to get prepared for tomorrow's race. "
The next day, the full Streetfront running team was up early, consuming as many calories as possible. A palpable nervous energy filled every room as everyone started to eat in-spite of the nerves. Then it was off to the start line. After the American national anthem was sung, the runners were off.
"We really stood out. Most of my kids are aboriginal and 25 years younger than the average marathoner. But once the race starts, all of the runners have but one goal - finish as quickly as possible," he said.
Some of his students would finish the marathon in four hours and 15 minutes, including William Vu, who this year completed his 10th marathon. Others finished with tears in their eyes because Stokes says they're disappointed in themselves that they couldn't finish (the marathon!) faster. He says the tears just demonstrate the commitment of his marathon runners.
Stokes says he feels blessed to be inspired by such students. Now, after 12 years, he's seen more than 125 marathons completed by his student runners.
"I would challenge you to find a more accomplished group of Vancouver students than them. In my eyes, none are finer," he says.
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