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A Parksville mother's walk for her son, the world's fastest law suit, a nun-on-the-run and other inspiring marathon stories

Oct 08 2012
Parksville's Patricia Kew walked the GoodLife Fitness Half-marathon in honour of her son Dean, who died in 2005, and to raise funds for the B.C. Arthritis Society. 

Parksville's Patricia Kew walked the GoodLife Fitness Half-marathon in honour of her son Dean, who died in 2005, and to raise funds for the B.C. Arthritis Society.

Photograph by: Adrian Lam , Times Colonist

They ran, walked and wheeled in a united mass of 11,503 but what motivated each person in Sunday’s GoodLife Fitness Victoria marathon were distinct human stories – some athletic, some inspiring and some downright heroic.
Take Parksville’s Patricia Kew for example. The 59-year-old reflexologist blended in with the thousands of other half-marathoners standing in the frosty shade at the start line. She didn’t have a big cheering section or corporate team in bright shirts. What she did have was a lock of her son Dean Poffenroth’s hair and the cross he held while on life support. Poffenroth died in 2005, at the age of 35. He left a wife, a two-year-old daughter and a promising career as an architect.
“He was very talented,” Kew said of her son. She choked up when she talked about the love between him and his younger sister Leesa. “They were best friends.”
In the fall of 2004, 34-year-old Poffenroth finished his masters in architecture on a scholarship with a job waiting at a top Halifax firm. He and his wife, Heidi, were happily settled in their new home with their young daughter, Riali. When he started to have difficulties breathing in November of 2004, the family thought it was a flu. But he was soon diagnosed with Dermatomyositis, a rare and debilitating disease in the arthritis family that affected his skin, muscle and lungs. He died on Feb. 26, 2005, from complications of the illness.
Arthritis-related illnesses run in Kew’s family, which is why she dedicated her race to raising funds for the B.C. Arthritis Society. She raised more than $1,600 and thought of her son every morning as she walked around Parksville, preparing for Sunday’s 22-kilometre race.
The standout marathoner had to be Adam Campbell. The 33-year-old Victoria lawyer not only ran in a designer business suit, he broke the Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon run in a suit with a time of two hours, 35 minutes and 53 seconds.
Campbell might have looked odd among the elite runners in sportswear but he’s just as fit. He came to Victoria a decade ago to train at the National Triathlon Centre and is a two-time Canadian duathlon champion. He came third overall in the 2006 Victoria Marathon and recently place second in a 100-mile ultra-trail race at Mount Fuji, Japan.
He decided to run the marathon as the “world’s fastest lawsuit” to highlight his new career as a lawyer and raise awareness for Access Pro Bono, which provides legal services to those who can’t afford them.
Campbell comes from a long line of lawyers, including his great-grandfather, grandfather and father. He graduated from law school at the University of Victoria in 2011 and works at Hemminger Schmid Lawyers and Mediators in Vic West.
Excitement ran high throughout the morning at the adjacent start and finish lines in front of the Legislature. As the 8K runners finished with steaming bodies in the crisp air, marathoners peeled of layers of clothing and tossed them to the curbs in anticipation of their start. Everyone from seniors in matching track suits to families and dogs lined the finish line to cheer, while the lines to port-a-potties grew exponentially before each next race started.
Marathon runner Carlos Stewart Velazquez was revved up to run his race in four hours and qualify for the New York Marathon, a lifetime dream. While he’s 72-years-old, Velazquez said his “physical” age is more like 62.
The Victoria resident is originally from  Mexico. He completed the Boston Marathon in 2009 and said he runs for his family, which includes six children, 22 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
His secret to staying youthful: “Don’t drink, don’t smoke, and don’t fool around with women.”
Walking the 8K race in a black baseball cap with the words “Nun Run” was Sister Lucy DuMont, 82, of the Sisters of St. Ann. DuMont has been a nun for 60 years, working much of the time at Mount St. Mary Hospital foundation. That is why she walked with the Mount St. Marythoners team, raising more than $8,605 for resident care. Her participation in the marathon, and in several years previous, inspired other residents at Mount St. Mary’s - including Willie Lam, 55, who is paralyzed down one side of his body and completed his personal wheelchair “marathon” over 10 weeks in Beacon Hill Park and Peter Boles, 77, who uses a walker and completed his own personal “marathon” this week.
DuMont said she tries to be encouraging and one of her lines is: “Be who you are and do what you can.”

spetrescu@timescolonist.com

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