Nick Lees: Edmonton’s working and cross-country snowboarding group honors Frank McNamara with a meditation bench

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Nick Lees Edmonton Journal Friends trying to place a bench overlooking the river valley to remember the late Frank McNamara include the President of the Chasquis Running Club, Bob Lafontaine, left, Professor Emeritus Raleigh Whitinger, the Antarctic marathon age group champion Roy Svenningsen, national and world class ultra runner Stefan Fekner and good friend Lou Hetke. Friends trying to place a bench overlooking the river valley to remember the late Frank McNamara include the President of the Chasquis Running Club, Bob Lafontaine, left, Professor Emeritus Raleigh Whitinger, the Antarctic marathon age group champion Roy Svenningsen, national and world class ultra runner Stefan Fekner and good friend Lou Hetke. Photo delivered by

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Many thousands of Edmonton cross-country skiers and runners will have the perfect place to meditate when a bench named after Frank McNamara is set up.

“The people from the city parks helped us put a bench in Frank’s memory that overlooks the North Saskatchewan River valley on Jasper Avenue and 85th Street,” said Lou Hetke, a 1978 NAIT student and runner met the late electronics teacher McNamara.

Friends of Frank McNamara, who has trained countless runners and cross-country skiers, have permission from the city to set up a bench in memory of McNamara overlooking the river valley on Jasper Avenue and 85 Street. Friends of Frank McNamara, who has trained countless runners and cross-country skiers, have permission from the city to set up a bench in memory of McNamara overlooking the river valley on Jasper Avenue and 85 Street. Photo delivered by

“Frank co-founded a cross-country skiing program for NAIT students and staff, and later added a Nordic skiing program. He trained both for decades. “

When McNamara died in December at the age of 85 after testing positive for COVID-19, countless condolences came from participants in his open cross-country racing series on Wednesday night.

He started the series in 1984 with 30 runners at the first event in Dawson Park. But later, more than 300 runners would take part in the autumn peak nights and about 150 spring races.

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The late Frank McNamara was a passionate competitor for skiing and running. The late Frank McNamara was a passionate competitor for skiing and running. Photo delivered by

Robert LaFontaine, past president of the U of A’s Chasquis Running Club, says he and McNamara became friends after running River Valley trails in the early 1990s or the Jasper-Banff relay races where McNamara was in over the Hill team ran, befriended.

“In 2001 I started electronic timing his Wednesday racing series,” said LaFontaine. “Frank’s organizational fingers were everywhere and we decided that the races should be called Frank McNamara Cross Country Series.”

The late Frank McNamara loved cross-country skiing so much that the former NAIT instructor started a very popular racing series in Edmonton. The late Frank McNamara loved cross-country skiing so much that the former NAIT instructor started a very popular racing series in Edmonton. Photo delivered by

Runners were entrusted to put their $ 2 entry fee in a can while McNamara, a silent supporter of many charities, marked the course.

McNamara was also a longtime member, trainer, and volunteer at the Edmonton Nordic Ski Club, helping skiers build ski slopes, set trails, and run wax clinics.

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Hetke says that McNamara’s many thousands of meters of trail laying were probably about as many people as the people who came to his running and skiing races.

The late Frank McNamara was a passionate competitor for skiing and running. The late Frank McNamara was a passionate competitor for skiing and running. Photo delivered by

Hetke worked with McNamara’s friends including Lafontaine, U of A professor emeritus Raleigh Whitinger, Antarctic marathon annual group champion Roy Svenningsen, and Stevan Fekner, an Edmonton world-class ultra runner, to help fund the $ 7,000 bank bills .

“So far we’ve raised $ 4,500 for the bank, plus $ 500 for annual bank maintenance, that’s $ 250 a year for 10 years,” says Hetke. “We need another $ 2,000 to pay our bill. We hope runners and skiers can donate any amount to help fill the void. ”To help, visit the Frank McNamara Spring X-Country Series Race Rust Event page.

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Running works wonders

John Stanton was a 238-pound self-proclaimed couch potato when he ran his first three-mile race in his thirties and almost failed to finish.

“That got me thinking,” he said. “I was an executive in a food company, decided to become more health conscious, and discovered a business opportunity that could help me.”

Stanton opened his first Running Room store in an old house on 112 Street near Jasper Avenue in 1984, and his run times dropped as dramatically as his business grew.

Stanton, now 73, rode under three hours in some of his 60+ marathons and became an avid Ironman triathlon participant.

Today he wants to see the success of the more than 900,000 runners who have visited the clinics of his 100 stores across Canada.

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“The coronavirus pandemic has again forced us to organize the Service Credit Edmonton Marathon as a virtual event from August 15 to 31,” said Stanton.

“The event traditionally attracts more than 5,000 runners and I don’t want to disappoint anyone who has trained, especially in Edmonton where I work closely with my business associates, my sons John Jr. and Jason.”

Running Room founder and President John Stanton, center, and sons John Stanton Jr., left, and Jason Stanton during a training run in the river valley.  The team - Stanton has made business partners with his sons - is organizing a virtual Edmonton marathon due to COVID-19 from August 15 to 31. Running Room founder and President John Stanton, center, and sons John Stanton Jr., left, and Jason Stanton during a training run in the river valley. The team – Stanton has made business partners with his sons – is organizing a virtual Edmonton marathon due to COVID-19 from August 15 to 31. Photo delivered by

The running guru values ​​all of the health benefits of running, and participants know that this race will benefit the Canadian Cancer Society.

“Runners can complete our established marathon route at any time,” says Stanton. “Or they choose the half marathon. Both have an entry fee of $ 80, which brings in a finisher medal and a $ 90 running jacket. “
The participants in virtual 5-K and 10-K events organized by the army are also well rewarded.

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To participate and the upcoming races, visit runningroom.com.

Feed the needy

The Edmonton Muslim Community Council raised $ 22,255 to aid Edmonton’s Food Bank, Councilor Yasmeen Nizam reports.

“The Quran strongly emphasizes the importance of helping the poor through charitable donations,” said Nizam, a lawyer.

“Donations rose this year during the last benevolent month of Ramadan, when devout followers went without food and water from morning to night.”

The council, made up of 12 member organizations, supports the Edmonton Food Bank year-round. But last year, the exponential devastation of COVID-19 on the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Edmontons helped raise $ 8,500.

“This year’s Dawn to Dusk campaign achieved almost three times as much,” said Nizam. “We were more successful when donors understood the ongoing adverse economic impact of the pandemic on Edmonton people.”

Marjorie Bencz of Edmonton Food Bank said, “In April we provided baskets to more than 20,000 people and provided food to schools, shelters, soup kitchens and other organizations. Special thanks go to the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities for their help. “

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