FEATURED Running Story #1

Saskatoon Trio supporting Attlee Foundation Centre through running the London Marathon

For every marathon runner, there comes a time when they have a number of races under their belts, a bunch of shiny medals strewn all over the house, and enough race shirts to open a store. And then they find themselves asking, “now what? How do I keep up the motivation to run when it’s so cold my eyelashes freeze together, or so hot I have enough sweat to make a small pond?” For some runners, this is when they give ultras a try, or take up trail running, or buy a speedo and do triathlons. For Dennis Furniss, Brian Pierce, and Scott Gillespie they decided to go for their Abbott World Marathon Majors six-star medal.

From left to right (Dennis, Scott, and Brian)

What is the Abbott World Marathon Majors? The Abbott World Marathon Majors is a series of six of the largest and most renowned marathons in the world – Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York. Of the 800 or so official marathons across the globe, these are the only six to be designated as world marathons. They are the runs where elites set records – Eliud Kipchoge at the 2022 Berlin Marathon and Brigid Kosgei’s at the 2019 Chicago Marathon, just to name a couple examples. The series started in 2006 with five marathons, adding Tokyo in 2013. Since May 2023 about 12,000 people have completed the six-star challenge. Of those, just 563 have been from Canada.

Most of the Abbott marathons are notoriously difficult to get into, creating another challenge on the six-star journey. But marathon organizers have turned this demand for entries into a way to support worthy causes. Races offer runners a bib in return for raising money and awareness for select charities. In fact, London Marathon is so charitable it is the largest annual fundraising event on the planet. Since 1981, it has raised more than £1 billion for a diverse group of charities, all who put the funds to use to make a difference to their clients and programs.

When looking at approaching a charity for the 2024 London marathon, the Saskatoon crew (Dennis, Brian, Scott) knew they wanted to work with a charity that felt like something they would support at home. The Attlee Centre was the perfect fit. The goal of the Attlee Centre is to provide a space in under-served communities for children and youth to participate in activities, including sports. Just as our local running clubs create a space for building friendships and personal growth, Attlee provides these opportunities for communities in an inclusive and welcoming environment.
Attlee Centre is small but mighty. Their programs run weekdays, weekends, and school breaks – with trained staff who have backgrounds in education and child development. Many of their staff are from the community – starting as volunteers and being mentored into formal positions. Drop by the Attlee Centre on any given day and you might find cooking lessons, art and crafts, sports activities, or a youth club meeting. What’s even more impressive is that they do this on a shoestring budget – between grants, donations, and space rentals they manage to provide this programming on less than £150,000/year, with no staff member being paid more than £60,000. For this organization, every dollar raised truly helps.

If you are interested in supporting Dennis, Brian and Scott in raising funds for Attlee Centre please consider joining them at a steak night fundraiser on Feb 2nd, 2024 at Sports on Tap. Tickets are $30.