Building spirit and the neighbourhood

[attach]5001[/attach]Once the election was over, some people were still running in the Beach.

Though the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon saw many of the world’s top distance runners compete, a group of Beach residents called the Local Champions were looking to win another competition.

A charity contest was held in various neighbourhoods along the 42-kilometre route to see what community can put together the best cheering section. The winner, as selected by judges who visited each community during the race, will be given $6,000 to put toward their cause.

And on race day, five people in the Beach were responsible for having organized various events in hopes of winning that prize for Community Centre 55.

Dave and Anita Emilio, Duff McLaren, Keith Begley and Sari Lindvall form this year’s Local Champions in the Beach.

“Being a lifelong Beach resident, I just think we have such a great community that I would like to see lots of people out cheering,” Anita Emilio said. “And I think they should be really proud that when they rerouted the marathon they thought this was an important part of the city to see.”

The cheering section in the Beach will consist of various local musical groups performing, storefront displays supporting running and potentially even a pipe and drum band. And Dave Emilio says attendees are also invited to donate if they can.

While the group is focused on being known as the best cheering section in the city, they also have other goals as well.

“(The Waterfront Marathon) has a silver label … but to get a gold label, which is top-of-the-line, you have to have a lot more community spirit, a lot more cheering going on throughout the city,” says McLaren, who has competed in about 50 marathons. “So if you can develop that, then you get a gold label, which means you can attract better athletes, you get more people coming and running.”

But the quintet won’t be joining the cheering throngs on the sidewalk come race day. They’ll be pounding the pavement in the race itself.

“I’ve trained for seven (marathons) and run two. For me it was about having a purpose and knowing I’d see it right through to the end,” Anita said with a laugh, days before the race. “I’m very proud of the Beach so I want to represent what I think is the best area in the city and want to make sure that people are happy to have the run come through here.”

Dave added that he’s looking to break his personal best in the race by running it eight minutes faster than he had before.

“As a personal goal, this is marathon number 25, and I want it to be the fastest yet, so my goal is three hours, 10 minutes,” he said. “So it’s a pretty big personal best if I make it, but I went from three thirty-five to three nineteen, so I’m hoping I can do something like that again.”

McLaren meanwhile, will be a pacesetter for those seeking to finish the marathon in six hours.

“This year in the marathon I hope to beat Fauja Singh. Fauja Singh is a 100-year-old guy and he’s hoping to get through before the six-hour mark,” he said. “He did 5:19 when he was 92.”

Though there’s an air of seriousness when they talk about their goals, they also say running is an enjoyable activity.

“It’s not all about competition,” McLaren said, holding back a grin. “Well, it is.”