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Mother's Day: Running for Mom

Marathon runner Barb Bryan visited her hometown of Isle aux Morts a year ago.
Marathon runner Barb Bryan visited her hometown of Isle aux Morts a year ago. - Submitted

Barb Bryan ran the Boston Marathon twice and is training for an iron man triathlon.

Barb Bryan remembers hearing the bombs go off at the 2013 Boston Marathon.

She had just crossed the finish line 10 minutes earlier and was heading toward her car with her husband Trent when they exploded.

“We didn’t know they were bombs,” Bryan recounted.

“Silly me, I thought, do they have fireworks going on or something? Then everything went crazy and they shut the phone towers down so we had no access to our cell phones. We ran to the car and we were lucky they let us out because they were stopping everyone leaving the city.

Runner Barb Bryan finished 10 minutes before the bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013. - Submitted
Runner Barb Bryan finished 10 minutes before the bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013. - Submitted

"We drove for four to five miles and stopped at a Duncan Donuts and we got cell service then. We still didn’t know what was going on but we started getting messages asking us if we were okay and telling us that bombs had gone off.”

Barb and her husband were very lucky.

Trent was taking pictures of Barb crossing the finish line and “was standing right were the bombs went off” just a few minutes earlier.

Barb didn’t want the bombing to overshadow her experience of finishing the Boston Marathon, so she returned to run it again three weeks ago.

“I was pretty anxious going back,” she admitted. “But that marathon has the most security of any marathon now so I got over it. I wasn’t worried for me though. I was concerned for my husband because the runners weren’t injured (from the bombing). It was mostly the people watching, family and friends, who were affected.”

Barb remembers her second Boston Marathon experience as being almost issue free. The only drawback this time was the weather.

“The weather was terrible,” Barb recollected. “The worst weather for the Boston marathon ever, but I trained in Calgary and it was the worst winter ever so I was kinda prepared for the weather.”

She said it poured rain, there was tons of wind, and it was really cold, minus four.

Despite the horrible conditions, Barb noted that, “It was a great experience. Boston just has a special feeling when you are running it and the crowds were still out in the rain cheering us on the whole way, the whole 26 miles. It was pretty spectacular.” 

Athlete Barb Bryan dealt with horrible weather at the last Boston marathon, April 16. - Submitted
Athlete Barb Bryan dealt with horrible weather at the last Boston marathon, April 16. - Submitted

Although Barb didn’t meet her time goal, she said, “the actual life experience time was great.”

Originally from Isle aux Morts, but now living in Calgary, Alta., Barb started running ten years ago.

The full-time pharmacist trains at least two hours a day and has also graduated to iron man triathlons, which includes swimming four kilometers, biking 180 kilometers and then running a full marathon. The whole event takes approximately 13 hours. The training for the iron man is rigorous and she had to teach herself how to swim first.

She credits her childhood in Isle aux Morts for the early conditioning to achieve such physical feats.

“My dad was always really active with us,” she remembered. “He took us trouting and skidooing. I loved being in the country. We also walked to school every day. We didn’t have any busses back then so we walked 20 minutes four times a day and when we went trouting, we didn’t have trikes so we walked in. I don’t know if that’s the kind of stuff that got me triggered into it.”

When it comes to her inspiration to keep pushing her limits, Barb gets emotional. Her mom, Judy Huelin, passed away in March 2017.

She runs for her mom and for everyone experiencing hard times.

“It was my mom who inspired me,” Barb said through tears.

“She went through a lot in her life. She had cancer when we were young. She never complained about anything, she always pushed through everything. She never let anyone know if she was uncomfortable or in pain or anything.

"So lots of times when I’m out running and I feel like stopping, I think, she didn’t stop, she kept going. It’s a mindset. I think about everyone who is pushing through something in their lives, and everyone is, then I can push through it. They’re an inspiration. I think abut them in their moments when they might have wanted to be out running or doing something they really enjoy but they can’t. I do it for them."

Barb is currently training to run an October marathon in Maui and an iron man competition in Idaho next month.

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