Art Chow: A Legacy of Giving

Nobody that has been around the Manitoba Marathon for any number of years can possibly think of the event without thinking about Art Chow. One of our ‘Original 79ers’, Art has participated in every race weekend since then, both as a runner and a volunteer. He is an avid runner, but his passion is supporting the Manitoba Marathon Foundation: since he began fundraising, Art’s efforts have resulted in more than $200,000 going to fund projects for Manitobans living with intellectual disabilities. His dedication to the cause and his fiery resolve to make his community a better place are just a couple of the things that makes Art so special. We look forward to continuing to see Art’s smile around the office and to recognizing him for his contributions for years to come – his legacy shows us all what one person can do when they set their mind to it.

What is your motivation to return year after year for the Manitoba Marathon?

Initially to keep in shape but now that I am very slow and mainly walk the half marathon, I put in a larger effort to raise funds as well.

Why did you decide to run the marathon originally in 1979?

It sounded like a reasonable challenge and I wanted to try a longer distance. I did not know that running was so addictive.

Do you have a memory of your favourite Manitoba Marathon that you could share?

They are each memorable and individual but have blended into a mixture over the years and I appreciate the encouraging on-lookers. It is always exciting at the finish which is organized very well. My fifth try was my best full Manitoba Marathon, decades ago in 1983, and was great because each of the last few miles were run faster and faster.

What is your favorite post-race meal or snack?

I usually have yoghurt and lots to drink plus a sweet bun, go home, have a bath and then snooze for an hour or more.

What advice would you give to someone who has just started running?

Take it easy and train for a distance that is reasonable. Try some shorter races if you intend to try for speed at all. Don’t make this serious and enjoy the effort and the day. Remember that your run at the Marathon is probably only 1% of your total training distance.

What keeps you in it for the long haul?

I love to eat especially desserts and would be a blimp by now except for the running/walking and my wife’s restraint for me. Fundraising has become very important and my donors have been very generous, some for 39 years.

When you think about setting goals for yourself, what’s the process like? How far in advance do you try to plan for?

I try to anticipate a reasonable time for the event but I am willing to change my goal depending on the weather and how I feel that day. I know what I should be able to do based on the training. Please don’t try to do an event you have NOT trained for as the result will be injury or a very disheartening result. I can tell the difference between injury and just hurting from tiredness so can push through the minor problems that we all face. I changed from the full to the half marathon because of an injury and did not go back to that distance after full recovery. I intend to continue to do the half marathon until I feel that I need to reduce the distance but hope that the decision will be long in the future.

Do you have any pre-race rituals?

I am always up early to calm any jitters and get moving. I stretch gently and have a bit of food and drink water.

What was the most challenging race you have ever completed and why?

No one will ever forget their first marathon but the first Manitoba Marathon was particularly memorable. A hot day starting at 8:00AM with a route that was very hot as it stretched out Roblin to Headingley and returned to the old stadium via a hot, black asphalt road which ran straight and treeless for miles. I was successful in finishing under four hours which was my goal, but some parts of the last bit are a fog.

Do you have a personal running hero or mentor?

I would say that the Founder of the Manitoba Marathon, John Robertson, along with Dale Kendel were heroes for helping in establishing a tradition for Winnipeg and Manitoba which has benefited so many Manitobans living with a handicap. I also owe a great debt to several members of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Manitoba who ran with and past me so many noon hours instead of having lunch. I have been very, very lucky to have so many sponsors who have donated to the cause for many years.

Raising funds is not very difficult and I encourage all the participants to give it a try. If you are working put up a sign in the coffee room, mail area or at your work area. Knock on the doors of a few neighbours. I was once told that if they were not asked they could not give. After a few years the donors are expecting the request and are supportive of the effort to keep up the training and the Marathon event. If even half the entrants or 5,000 people could raise $100 each the marathon would raise half a million dollars each year and that would make a huge difference for a lot of our fellow citizens who do not have our opportunities.

Finally I am very happy to be able to participate in this 40th year event at an age of 81. The Manitoba Marathon continues to be very important in introducing our youth to running and its benefits. It encourages the not-so-young to participate in any of the range of events. Fresh air and activity combined with a great community participation makes one feel part of the larger community. I would like to thank my sponsors, the encouraging viewers and especially the many, many volunteers, some of whom we never see, for their help and encouragement over the past years.

United Way Winnipeg