By Dee Dwyer
You may have seen Musquodoboit Harbour’s Catherine Berry running by the road somewhere on one of the many loops along the Eastern Shore, a slight figure with a trademark hat firmly in place. Sometimes she has a few companions, but more often than not, she’s alone, training for her next marathon.
Berry came to marathon running late, towards the end of her career as a pilot for Jazz.She began running in 2013 with the Mountain Equipment Coop’s Learn to Run 5 K program in Halifax and gradually increased her distance, running her first 10k at the Blue Nose in Halifax in 2014 and her first half marathon in PEI in 2015. Retirement in 2017 from her flying career gave her more time to train, and she’s completed two marathons in the last two years, one in May 2017 in Ottawa (4 hours, 36 minutes, 55 seconds), and then in Iceland on August 18, 2018.
The Iceland race was a qualifying run for the world-famous Boston Marathon, which Berry hopes to run one day. She trained for the race here in Nova Scotia in hot weather and was pleasantly surprised to find when she arrived in Iceland on August 15 that the temperature there was a mild 12 C.
The Saturday of the run was beautiful: “It was sunny, bright, with fresh air,” says Berry, “and I was in good shape.” A total of 12,000 runners were in Iceland for the races, with 1300 running the marathon distance (42.2 km). Catherine placed 4thin her age group of 19--with a personal best of 4 hours, 33 minutes and 23 seconds!
Berry and her family stayed in Reykjavik for a few days after her marathon, which gave her time to explore the walkable old parts of the city and the countryside. They went to Gamla Laugin, the Secret Lagoon, with what she calls “a cute little geyser that drooled into a hot spring," a six foot-sized geyser almost human in size. They also took a tour of the Golden Circle including the Thingvellir. “It is truly a geography of fire and ice,” says Berry.
Berry’s next planned marathon is in Ottawa in the spring of 2019, where she hopes to qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2020. Boston has proved elusive: in 2017, she thought she had a qualifying time, but there were so many applicants that they moved the qualifying time up 18 seconds faster than her time. And in the Reykjavik race in Iceland this summer,it turned out the course was 213 meters short and was disallowed as a Boston Qualifying race.