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'Your heart is a puddle': Marathon motivation runs deep, is intensely personal

·3 min read
Calgary firefighter Devin Featherstone embraces his son, Kai, in a recent marathon, left, while Telara Renz celebrates her completion of a half marathon in Canmore, Alta., with her son Kolby. Both tell CBC News their reasons for participating are intensely personal. (Submitted by Devin Featherstone/Submitted by Telara Renz - image credit)
Calgary firefighter Devin Featherstone embraces his son, Kai, in a recent marathon, left, while Telara Renz celebrates her completion of a half marathon in Canmore, Alta., with her son Kolby. Both tell CBC News their reasons for participating are intensely personal. (Submitted by Devin Featherstone/Submitted by Telara Renz - image credit)

A Calgary firefighter who just ran a full 42-kilometre marathon wearing 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms) of gear, shares the philosophy that propels him.

"Set crazy, wild goals," Devin Featherstone said.

"Sometimes you are not going to get them. You might fail, and that is totally okay. It is what you do in the face of failure, that matters."

Featherstone — an experienced ultramarathon runner — says at the top of his list of reasons for running are a friend whose memory burns bright, and Featherstone's five-year-old son Kai.

Supplied by Devin Featherstone/@dfeatherstone
Supplied by Devin Featherstone/@dfeatherstone

"A friend who recently passed from cystic fibrosis, he was a big inspiration for my family and I," Featherstone told the Calgary Eyeopener in a Tuesday interview.

"He showed us to live life to the fullest, don't take any days off."

And living life to the fullest, for Featherstone, includes his equally inspirational son, Kai.

"There was a point where he was running with me, and he was running faster than me," Featherstone said with a laugh.

"In my head I was thinking 'I really don't want to run this fast' but Kai was just super pumped. You get a lot of energy with that. He said 'Dad, I am proud of you. Keep going.' Anybody that is a parent, you know, your heart is a puddle. That's what you need to keep going."

Supplied by Telara Renz
Supplied by Telara Renz

Another runner, Telara Renz, can relate to the energy of a child.

"Where do I start? He is just incredible," Renz said of her son Kolby, who is about to turn three years old.

Renz is running an ambitious three half-marathons, including the Calgary Marathon last Sunday.

"So I thought three 21-kilometre runs would represent Down syndrome because people with Down syndrome have three copies of the 21st chromosome, whereas the rest of us have two," Renz told CBC News in a Wednesday interview.

Her third run is the Calgary Police Half Marathon, early next month, which happens to be Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

"The more people who can know how great Down syndrome is, the better, and how great people with Down syndrome are. How important it is to include them. The world needs to know more about these people," she said.

She's hoping to raise $2,100 for a Calgary-based program that focuses on inclusion and supporting families with Down syndrome.

"They are incredible. I can't say enough about them," Renz said of the PREP program (Pride, Respect, Empowerment and Progress).

Supplied by Telara Renz
Supplied by Telara Renz

Young Kolby is also a teacher, and aspiring Instagram star.

"He's just so determined and so motivated. He works so hard with such a smile on his face. He teaches me how to work through things, and knowing that you will be ready, when you are ready," she said.

"So much joy and so much love. I have never experienced joy like this. He has taught me to be a better person all around."

Meanwhile, firefighter Featherstone said his son keeps him focused on the finish line.

"Just go out and challenge yourself, throw up some crazy, insane goal," he said.

"Keep moving, keep trucking along. Take it each stride at a time."

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