Ballenas Secondary alumni Stephanie Kurz to run 100k from Nanaimo to Port Alberni to raise funds for Terry Fox Foundation. — Submitted photo

Ballenas Secondary alumni Stephanie Kurz to run 100k from Nanaimo to Port Alberni to raise funds for Terry Fox Foundation. — Submitted photo

Former Ballenas student runs 100 kilometres to honour friends battling cancer

Kurz also raises funds for Terry Fox Foundation

Running 100 kilometres in a day is a challenge not very many athletes would dare to take. But that’s not the case for Stephanie Kurz.

The Parksville native ran that distance from Nanaimo to Port Alberni on June 2. She didn’t do it for glory or attention. She embarked on this challenge to honour and support family and friends who are currently facing a much harder task of battling cancer.

It is Kurz’s personal way of bringing awareness to cancer, which according to the Cancer Society of Canada is the leading cause of death in Canada. She is also using her selfless solo run as a way to raise funds for the Terry Fox Foundation.

“It pales in comparison to the pain and hardships that many victims of cancer go through,” said Kurz.

This is not the first time Kurz undertook such a physically demanding athletic endeavour. She has done it for the last six years, taking part in long-distance events that included the 200k Ride to Conquer Cancer, 130k North Shore Triple Crown, the Boston Marathon, and the Baden-Powell Centennial Trail run. She has raised more than $10,000 for the BC Cancer Foundation.

What motivated Kurz to do the challenges is her best friend Tegan Carmichael, who in 2010 was diagnosed with a brain tumour. After going through surgery in 2010, Kurz said, Carmichael took up cycling and encouraged her to join her in the Ride to Conquer Cancer. The experience set a trend that has now become Kurz’s personal crusade every year.

She’s unable to join Carmichael in her bike rides in Calgary, so Kurz, who now lives in Vancouver, made a commitment to support her and also raise funds for cancer on her own. This year she decided to run from Rocky Point Park in Nanaimo to the Sproat Lake turnoff in Port Alberni, which Kurz said totalled 100 kilometres. Originally, she planned to do it on her own with a backpack, but her brother has decided to help her out and provide car support.

“I have been raising money for the BC Cancer Foundation in the last six years and this year I decided to switch it up and do it for the Terry Fox Foundation because I am kinda doing this mini-marathon of hope,” said Kurz. “I used to do the Terry Fox Run in Rathrevor Park since I was six years old. He was a huge hero for me growing up. He was amazing.”

Kurz contacted the Terry Fox Foundation about her plan and they set up a fund-raising page for her. She set a reachable target of $1,000 and to date has already doubled that amount.

“I did not want to focus on the money,” said Kurz. “Whatever money I get I would be happy. It was more on supporting Tegan and having fun with it. But last week I hit $2,100 and that’s kinda cool because it’s more motivating as well.”

Kurz is very athletic. After graduating from Ballenas Secondary in Parksville, she played volleyball at University of British Columbia and went on to play professionally in Europe. A shoulder injury led her to give up the sport but, as a former member of the Oceanside Track and Field Club, she took on running and has entered a number of long distance races — including the Boston Marathon.

To get her body tuned up and acclimatized for the 100-km run, Kurz trained consistently for the last five months.

“It is crazy but I needed to train for an ultra-marathon,” said Kurz. “I had to do the long runs back-to-back even though your legs are tired. So I run 40k on Saturday and 40k on Sunday and couple of 20k runs every weekend. In the first weekend of May, I ran 60k to see if I can do it. I hope to finish the distance in around 12 hours.”

Anyone wishing to donate to Kurz’s fundraising efforts can do so online at: http://www.terryfox.ca/nanaimotoportalberni