Reykjavik run will raise funds for diabetes research
By Angela MacKenzie - Staff Reporter
A Coquitlam firefighter will be able to cross off another item on her life's to-do list when she reaches the finish line of a 42.2-kilometre marathon in Reykjavik, Iceland next month.
Tamara Masterson is one of 180 members of Team Diabetes Canada, participating in events such as marathons, triathlons, mountain bike relays and adventure races to raise money for the Canadian Diabetes Association.
Because the prevention or delay of the onset of Type 2 diabetes is associated with a healthy diet and regular exercise, the participants also serve as role models for healthy lifestyles - and Masterson is a gold-medal example.
Masterson opts to ride her bike to work from her home in North Vancouver to Coquitlam every day. In preparation for the marathon, she also runs four to five times a week for one to three hours each day - about 30 kilometres a day.
"I do a lot of running and riding, and a marathon is just another thing on my checklist that I wanted to do," Masterson says when asked about her reasons for participating in the Icelandic run.
She chose the Reykjavik Marathon over marathons in Dublin, Bermuda and Honolulu partly for climate reasons.
"Doing a marathon in 30 degrees doesn't interest me," she says, laughing.
The Reykjavik Marathon is an international competitive marathon that is described as the "highlight of the year" for runners in Iceland.
For Masterson, the marathon is yet another challenge to conquer.
A former mountain bike racer and competitive figure skater, she also worked for eight years as a ski patrol member.
After graduating with a degree in human kinetics from the University of B.C., Masterson returned to school at the Justice Institute of B.C. to become a firefighter.
"It wasn't until I finished university that I decided that was something I wanted to do," she says. "They started hiring female firefighters and I chose to pursue it and here I am."
Masterson has been with the Coquitlam department for two and a half years.
"It was tough to get in," she says. "I was fortunate because I've done a lot of sports all my life, so I was pretty strong and I was pretty fit, so I didn't have to put in the extra effort to get stronger ... the only extra thing I did was to start going to the gym to work on upper body strength."
Although she is not diabetic herself, Masterson says she often encounters people with diabetes through her work.
"A lot of the medical calls we go to, the people are diabetic," Masterson says. "They may not have suffered a collapse or whatever being diabetic, but they might have a heart condition and you find out they have diabetes as well."
According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, diabetes is one of Canada's leading causes of death by disease with more than two million Canadians affected by diabetes and at least $9 billion spent annually in Canada to treat people with diabetes and its complications.
As part of her commitment to Team Diabetes Canada, Masterson has pledged to raise a minimum of $5,500. The Canadian Diabetes Association will use those funds for diabetes research, education, advocacy and services to people with diabetes.
- Anyone who would like to help Masterson reach her fundraising goal can send cheques payable to the Canadian Diabetes Association, c/o Tamara Masterson, Coquitlam Firefighters, 1020 Austin Ave., Box 47553, Coquitlam, B.C. V3K 2A0. For more information about the Canadian Diabetes Association, visit www.diabetes.ca.