The many benefits of regular exercise for seniors are well known. Challenging ourselves by setting and achieving new fitness goals can bring even more rewards, as residents of Tapestry at Arbutus Walk found when they participated in the 2023 Vancouver Sun Run.
Seven residents, ranging in age from 80 to 97, completed the Shaw 2.5 Km Mini Sun Run and some broke their personal records by completing the course in less than half an hour.
While the event itself is only one day, training and preparation took place over several months, led by Tapestry Kinesiologist Edmar Canlas. Edmar, who joined Tapestry in November 2022, has a degree in Kinesiology and had previously worked as a therapy assistant at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton.
“One of the residents approached me and suggested doing the Sun Run,” says Edmar. New to Vancouver, Edmar didn’t realize the Sun Run was such a big community event and he was surprised to learn that many of Tapestry’s residents had previously participated as runners in the full 10 Km Sun Run course.
Training started two months prior to the race, with scheduled weekly Sun Run training. “I would pick a route that was close to the 2.5 kilometre course in length, and change the route each time so that we were exploring a different part of the neighbourhood,” Edmar says. The group also did a joint walk with residents from Tapestry at Wesbrook Village with a bus trip to the dyke trails in Richmond, which ended with a shared meal at a local restaurant.
The Arbutus Walk team also did a “dry run” of the actual 2.5 Km course, which loops around BC Place stadium in downtown Vancouver.
Edmar unofficially timed the walkers during training, and found they increased their pace each week. “At the start it was taking about 48 minutes, and as we got closer to the run the slowest time was 35 minutes,” he says. “One of the residents told me ‘I might not be as fast, but I’ll get there’ – I liked his attitude,” Edmar says.
The Tapestry team had a great time, Edmar says, participating in the pre-race warm up including some dancing. With the excitement and adrenalin of the crowds, “they pushed themselves on the day of, and finished in a shorter time than they had during the training,” he adds, with the fastest Tapestry participant clocking in at 28 minutes.
Tapestry handled all the logistics for participants – from Edmar’s pre-training program, to race day transportation, and ending with a celebration meal hosted at Arbutus Walk after the early-morning race.
Marie, 89, is no stranger to the Sun Run – an avid runner, she says she participated in the very first Sun Run in 1985 and ran the full 10 Km course “just about every year” until 2004 when hip issues prevented her from running. At Tapestry, she continues to stay active by attending several fitness classes a week, swimming and taking regular long walks.
Walking the Sun Run with the Tapestry group brought back lots of memories for Marie. “When the Sun Run started there were 3,700 people, and now it’s more than 35,000. And it’s a great atmosphere – it’s nice to see families participating, and everyone is happy and enjoying doing something healthy,” she says.
Peter, 97, walked the course in 2022 for the first time and found the practice walks organized by Edmar this year helped him get conditioned for the 2.5 Km course. “Edmar was very patient with us during the training,” Peter says. “He let the people who could walk quickly set their own pace and spent time with those of us who were walking more slowly.”
Roberta, 81, was a first-time Sun Run participant in 2023. She regularly takes long walks and also participates in Tapestry’s fitness classes, but says the fact that Tapestry took care of all the logistics, including door-to-door transportation, was the key to her decision to take part. “I had read about the Sun Run since it started and am kind of surprised I didn’t do it earlier,” she says.
“The practice walks ahead of time were fun – I find here at Tapestry you get to know more people as you do different activities,” Roberta adds.
Edmar says his first Sun Run experience was quite inspiring. As someone who focuses on physical activity every day as part of his job, Edmar also says he hopes to be as strong and fit later in life as these Tapestry residents are.
At Tapestry, we support your active and healthy lifestyle by aligning our programs to the 7 Dimensions of Wellness. Getting out into the community while supporting charitable causes, being active with others and socializing, and creating and achieving new fitness goals are all part of healthy aging. If you are looking to join a vibrant community of seniors who are living life to the fullest, please contact us. We would be pleased to host you for lunch and a tour.