Beyond the Laces – Local marathon runner defies the odds, runs for charity
I am a 20-year resident of Fort McMurray. I’m a dad and husband. I’m a heart patient and a pacemaker recipient. I’m also a marathoner (Two times Boston Finisher) and 70.3 Iron Man finisher amongst other achievements (2005 YMCA Peace Medallion Recipient).
I’m often asked how do you do it? How do you run in -40 Celsius when you have multiple heart issues and a pacemaker? What motivates and inspires you?
I find the motivation from several sources. One is that I realize that in each step and each kilometre, it could be my last.
There was a time that I took running for granted, and I only thought about myself. But that changed after I was told by my cardiac team in Edmonton that: “You can’t run and if you do you could die.”
From 2003 to 2011, my life was a rollercoaster ride. One minute I was cleared to run to the next being told, again: “Sorry, you cannot.” It was a constant battle between wanting to run and being constrained by my own body.
It all changed in 2011 when my head cardiac doctor took a chance and installed some amazing technology – my pacemaker.
If it wasn’t for the little device implanted in my chest, I’m not sure if running would be possible. But in the back of my head, I’m always thinking I’m one test away from having all of this taken from me.
Whether on the treadmill, track or the Birchwood Trails, I cherish each run.
A friend once asked me: “Why can’t you just run to run? Why does it always have to be about a cause or a person?
It isn’t easy some days – to go out and run when the body is hurting or when it is extremely hot or cold out, especially when you have a few heart issues and run like a Clydesdale.
But I can run for those who are unable.
The people and organizations give me that little extra lift when I need it and do not know that the word “quit” exists.
They do not let their condition define or stop them from achieving their goals and overcome each obstacle they face. They live life to the fullest and break down barriers each day. Running has taken on a much deeper purpose than just heading out the door to train.
I believe that sport is the best tool that one can use to raise awareness for a cause or a person.
I know from past experiences that when I needed someone to help me, they were there. In the past, my family has a lot of people and businesses who supported us over the years so when given a chance to give back or pay it forward I will.
I’m grateful to my family, donors, sponsors and everyone who has helped me.
As for the organization and people I run for, I am there for them, and vice versa. Nothing tops the look on their faces at the finish line.
It’s not about me or you, it’s about us. As long as I can, I will run.
I send my gratitude and a special thanks to my motivators Tessa Booth, Tracy Caines Tanner, Shaylee Boger and Shauna Sperou, as well as my family, sons Kaleb and Nathaniel, my wife Candice, and my mom Anne for giving me a reason to run.
Blake Crossley is a regular marathon runner in Fort McMurray and finished his second Boston Marathon run on the National Organization for Rare Disorders’ Running for Rare Team to raise funding and awareness for children with cancer and autism in April 2019. Learn more at www.rarediseases.org or to make a donation to local initiatives visit www.kidswithcancer.ca and www.autismrmwb.org. Follow Crossley’s marathon journey on the Boston4Kids Facebook page and on Instagram: @Boston4Kids and @YMMTinman.
Blake shares a kiss with his wife Candice at the 2019
Boston Marathon finish line in Boston, Massachusetts in April 15, 2019.
Blake with his marathon running companion Tracy Caines Tanner.
Blake and his wife Candice with Tessa Booth and her mother Dawn at the Fort McMurray Half Marathon Run in 2017. Supplied photos
The Crossleys on the Birchwood Trails in September 2017. Photo by Erika Cook