Every Wednesday at 2 pm, sisters Joy Dobson and Helen Bailey walk and talk.
Dobson, a doctor, lives in Emerald Park, a small community east of Regina. His sister lives in Chilliwack. They started what they call their “walkie-talkies” last year, while preparing for the Sun Run 2021 virtual race.
“We go at our own pace and we talk for an hour and it just goes by,” Dobson said. “COVID made us think about different ways to connect.”
What are you talking about?
“Oh my gosh,” Bailey said. “Everything. I love having Joy’s attention because she is such a talented and intelligent doctor. I’m whining about everything. I wish there were some dead silences. But no.”
Now 65, Dobson was a runner in her youth, then started again in her 40s.
“I thought the reason for my back problems was that I was out of shape,” Dobson said. “And then they tricked me into running a half marathon when I turned 50. Now I am no longer a runner. Personal best times are not in my ambition. My goals now are always to finish upright, smiling and injury-free”.
The sisters started walking together about a decade ago, for the Queen City Marathon in Regina.
They’ve been participating in the Sun Run since 2018. Last year, when the run went virtual, Bailey didn’t hesitate.
“We had so much fun doing it in real life, so I thought, why not sign up and do it virtually?” Bailey said.
They started training together, walking out the door at the same time and chatting on their phones.
“Training is one of my favorite parts because you get to walk and talk a lot, two of my favorite things,” Bailey said.
Before last year, he was signing his sister up for the event in person as a birthday present. For the virtual race, she “probably turned in 10 entries. It was an excellent gift.”
Bailey estimates that she did the virtual 10K at least four times in the past year because she had bought so many records for people.
Bailey usually walks the Rotary Trail along the Vedder River.
“In my opinion, it’s one of the most sensational walks on the planet,” he said. “I also have a good walk through the neighborhood, but it’s a bit more hilly. I have to be prepared for it.”
Dobson has charted routes from his half marathon days.
“I have a route of every distance up to 18K through walking trails in our community,” he said.
Saskatchewan winters can be challenging.
“My rule of thumb has always been, if it’s above 10 degrees Celsius, you can run outside. You need long sleeves and long pants or leggings. When it’s zero you can have one or the other, bare legs or bare arms. If it’s above 10, you can have both.”
For this year’s Sun Run, Dobson has bought a plane ticket.
“Things are calming down a bit even though Saskatchewan might not be as good a space as BC,” Dobson said. Formerly an anesthesiologist and critical care physician, she now works in a medical leadership role in the system of care.
“I hope to do it in real life with Helen on the real day. This will be the first trip I have made outside my little corner of the province in the last two years.”
“It’s become such a family tradition that now the grandkids are in the mix,” Bailey said. “They did the 2.5 last year. One thing about Sun Run, anyone can do it.”
In 2019, the sisters placed fourth because Bailey’s two-year-old granddaughter wanted to keep up with them.
“She must have walked five miles, that little girl, she was so determined,” Bailey said. “Hopefully it brings back the babies, the mommies and the strollers, and that will slow Joy down a bit. I remember in 2018, around the 7K mark, she was like, ‘Let’s put the babies down.
Bailey loves the energy of race day, something she missed last year.
“I have a picture I took at the last Sun Run in person and it’s a sea of runners,” Bailey said. “There were a lot of comments like, ‘I wouldn’t want to be with all those people.’ But there was plenty of space and everyone was very friendly. While virtual was fun, I’m really looking forward to being in a big group and all that energy and all the people cheering you on. It really is a fantastic way to spend a morning.”
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