COLUMN: Perry Bergson — June 25, 2012

Perry Bergson
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I’ve talked before in this space about the opportunities granted to me by my job.

Serving as editor gives me a chance to experience many of the events that shape this city.

I recently had the chance to be involved with two that linked directly to my personal interest in endurance sports.

While in a perfect world they wouldn’t have come on successive days, I still enjoyed every moment of both.

The first involved time spent on my bike.

Jerry Jarvis organized the Saskatchewan Corrections Charity Bike Riders event and invited me along. After ensuring that I realized it wasn’t a race, he made room for a working journalist who loves his time in the bicycle saddle.

After catching a bus ride out to Shellbrook, more than 20 riders hit the highway at 8 a.m.

It was a fascinating cross-section of experienced cyclists and occasional riders aboard everything from high-end road bikes to old mountain bikes equipped with racks and baskets.

Many had never ridden 100 kilometres before and were clearly a little nervous.

The route led us down Highway 55. We ate lunch at Pine Grove Correctional Centre, and then rode along Highway 55 to Spruce Home Wood Pulp Haul Road and back into Prince Albert on the old highway and Highway 2.

It’s a daunting task for someone who doesn’t ride much, even with the breaks we took every 10 or 15 kilometres.

There’s an old “joke” I like that asks how you eat an elephant. The answer is, of course, one bite at a time.

And so the riders ate their elephants, one pedal stroke at a time.

I checked my riding journal before I went out and it was my 70th ride of more than 100 kms in the last 15 years. But at this point, that’s just a number.

Doing it for the first time is an accomplishment.

It’s a lovely thing to share a moment like that with someone. I’ve had the good fortune to help more than 100 people do their first triathlon and it’s gratifying to see doubt evaporate into belief.

We limit ourselves over and over again in our lives by concluding that we don’t have the talent or resolve to achieve our dreams.

My experience has been that a tiny bit of talent and a large serving of stubborn unwillingness to stop can carry you a long way.

That seems like a perfect way to move the story to Saturday, the Summit Run and a sore old managing editor with a set of tired legs.

Naturally the race comes with a tale of its own.

Summit Run organizers contacted me a while ago to see if I would publish full results in the Daily Herald, which seemed sensible to me.

A couple weeks later they called back to ask if I would serve as their “celebrity” runner.

I was alternately bemused and horrified by the request. In fact the first words out of my mouth to my co-workers after I got off the phone were “The mayor and Donny Parenteau must be busy!”

Any of my longtime friends would tell you that I’m not a person who seeks out attention. I’m a social brute and a decent public speaker, but I don’t have a big ego that needs stroking and I’m most happy in the background.

So I begged the organizers to call me their “guest” runner, logically suggesting that if only my wife and 11 other people in the city would recognize me, I may not be a very good celebrity.

It was nice to speak to the runners after race announcer Nigel Maxwell handed me the mic, although my “speech” was basically imploring the fast runners not to eat all of the post-race food while I dawdled to the finish line.

The Rotary Trail is a magnificent way to see the city and the race made full use of it.

They added a terrific touch that I’ve never encountered before in the 50-some races I’ve done. About a kilometre in, a group of pipers and drummers greeted you. There was another band by the museum and another group further along playing a variety of classic rock hits.

You couldn’t help but smile when you came up on them.

It’s always nice on race day to see athletes of all shapes, sizes and ages battling their way to the finish line.

I’ve made a number of friends in the triathlon, running and cycling communities in Prince Albert and many were running, volunteering or watching. It’s always nice to see a familiar face when you’re suffering.

I was getting tired by the five-kilometre turnaround but I saw a pair of shoes run by me that I liked shortly after so I kept them in sight and finished in reasonable time.

After grabbing a shower at home and taking a brief rest, I brought my old dog back to the finish line and helped tear down tents as he kept an eye on my work.

Thanks to race director Lisa Evans and her entire committee — Mike Evans, Roslyn Lake, Kalyna Wiebe, Ward Wiebe, Justin Monette, Leona Strelioff, Joyce Stevenson, Amy Fiddler and Barb McKnight  — for the excellent job they did putting the race together.

Not everyone is a runner or interested in spending a day on their bike. But it’s events like that — combined with the other sports and cultural happenings and service clubs and church groups and many other activities — that piece together the fabric of Prince Albert.

It’s not an easy task building a community.

I guess you do it one bite at a time.

Organizations: Pine Grove Correctional Centre, Daily Herald

Geographic location: Shellbrook, Spruce Home Wood Pulp Haul Road, Roslyn Lake

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