Stephanie Kurz, right, and her best friend Tegan Carmichael, when they finished the Ride to Conquer Cancer in 2012. Kurt will run 160 kilometres from Parksville to Comox and back to honour Carmichael, who passed away from cancer last February. — Submitted photo

Parksville’s Kurz to run 160 kilometres to honour deceased friend

‘I know she’ll be there with me in spirit’

Stephanie Kurz is set to embark on another long-distance challenge that will see her run from Parksville to Comox and back to raise money for the Terry Fox Foundation and to honour her best friend Tegan Carmichael, who passed away from cancer in February.

Last year, the former Ballenas Secondary student ran 100 kilometres from Nanaimo to Port Alberni, completing the distance in 13 hours.

On June 15-16, Kurz aims to cover a longer distance — 160 kilometres — and complete it in 24 hours. She plans to start at 9 a.m. on Saturday in Parksville and finish the challenge Sunday morning.

The start is the three-way stop at Church Road and Humphries Road. She heads into Parksville via Renz and Despard roads and then loops back up Hirst, Pym, and Wembley Road before she hits the old Island Highway by French Creek and stays on the old highway all the way out to Comox and back. The finish will be right outside Ballenas Secondary on Pym Street.

A link to her route can be found at: https://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/fullscreen/2497346422/

Kurz will not be alone in her long run. She will have road support that includes a family friend Sam Culic, who is a police officer, and her brother Michael, who is a cancer survivor. So if you see a cop car with a runner out in front, Kurz would like you to give them a honk or wave in support.

Kurz will also be met by some members of the Comox Valley Road Racers, who will come out to greet her at Marina Park in Comox at approximately 7 p.m.

RELATED: Kurz completes 100k run in 13 hours

Beginning in 2012, Kurz has embarked on a yearly personal athletic challenge to honour and support Carmichael, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2010.

Kurz says Carmichael’s fighting spirit motivated her so much as her friend because despite her illness, she took up cycling and encouraged her to participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer.

They both completed the ride in 2012 and 2013, and when Carmichael moved back to Calgary and started participating in the Alberta ride, that inspired Kurz to continue the fight out west.

Since then, Kurz has taken part in long-distance challenges that include a 200-kilometre Sunshine Coast Ride, a 130-kilometre North Shore Triple Crown ride, the Boston Marathon, and the Baden-Powell Centennial Trail run. In doing so, she has raised more than $10,000 for the BC Cancer Foundation and almost $10,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation.

The run Kurz plans to take on June 15-16 is going to be an emotional and important endeavour.

“It was definitely tough coming to grips that she was really gone, and for about a month after she passed my training kind of went out the window,” said Kurz.

“I would be lucky if I could get through a run without breaking down and sobbing, but eventually my training runs became part of the healing process. It still doesn’t feel right that there won’t be a pre-and-post challenge chat but I know she’ll be there with me in spirit.”

Kurz is a former University of British Columbia volleyball player who went on to play professionally in Europe.

A shoulder injury ended her volleyball career but as a former member of the Oceanside Track and Field Club, she took up running again and has entered a number of long-distance races — including the Boston Marathon.

Kurz had an initial fundraising target of $5,000 to reach her goal of hitting $20,000 total funds raised since 2012, but she’s since upped that to $7,000 as she’s already raised $6,500 and counting.

Anyone wishing to sponsor Kurz’s 100 Mile Run to Kill Cancer can go to the Terry Fox Foundation site online at http://www.terryfox.ca/100mileruntokillcancer

Kurz thanked a pair of sponsors: AJ’s Brooklyn Pizza Joint for hosting a fundraiser night for her, and Rackets and Runners for keeping her outfitted in running gear.

“When you need new runners every month it really helps,” said Kurz. “Thanks Vanda and Nadia!”

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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