From the anxiety induced by a global pandemic to the uncertainty over what comes next, everyone’s had to endure a lot during the last many months. A North Vancouver high school student is set to endure a little more.
Owen Ostler, who like many teens his age is set to finish up his Grade 10 year remotely, has decided to take up endurance running in order to give back to his community.
The Carson Graham Secondary student is set to run the length of a marathon on Aug. 1 in order to raise money for the new critical care unit at Lions Gate Hospital.
Athletic by nature, and especially interested in the mental aspect of sports, Ostler is also the first to offer that trudging a great distance, one foot after the other, by no means comes naturally to him.
“My teammates and coaches will tell you: I’m by no means a runner,” says Ostler, who’s spending his summer working in landscaping. “I’ve always been the slowest person on the basketball floor, but I really enjoy weight training and the mental side of fitness. I thought endurance might be something for me.”
Ostler was at Mahon Park in North Vancouver a few weeks ago when the idea to run the length of a marathon – approximately 42 kilometres – came to him as he watched people cautiously gathering, while maintaining physical distancing, in what was likely their first in-person interactions in months.
“I thought I should try and find a way to make the best of it and try and help out,” he says.
Ostler will run his solo marathon, lap after lap, around Fen Burdett Stadium at Mahon Park, where he has also been training.
“I ran a 10-mile run with a 30-pound weight bag because I read that’s what the Navy Seals do every day before breakfast. I thought that was incredible – pushing your mind and body to those limits,” he says.
With a little more training, Ostler estimates he can complete his task in under four and a half hours.
He’s aiming to raise $5,000 for the hospital’s critical care unit, which could support up to 1,400 patients per year with long-term health issues, according to the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation.
Some of those long-term health issues could include patients with heart, lung and kidney disease, intensive care patients, post-surgery patients, and emergency patients who require close monitoring.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the campaign to get the critical care unit built has experienced reduced funding, notes Ostler.
“I’ve seen so much fundraising going towards COVID-19, I was wondering what areas had been overlooked or neglected,” he says. “I just thought, it’s a pretty small world – I could know someone who needs that care.”
His initial fundraising goal was $1,000, but after reaching that amount almost immediately, he’s since expanded it to $5,000.
Ostler adds that he even got noted West Vancouver interviewer, radio personality and musician Nardwuar the Human Serviette to retweet his call-to-action for his fundraising campaign, which can be found by clicking here.
Ostler will run his solo marathon around and around the track at Fen Burdett Stadium on Aug. 1 starting at 8 a.m.
While there may be a few friends and family watching from a distance, it’ll mainly just be him and the track, he says.
“I really like challenging myself so I thought a marathon would be a very, very big challenge for me, especially since I’m not a runner,” says Ostler. “I try to just focus one step at a time, break it down into smaller chunks. I think if you run one step, you can run 1,000 steps, and if you can run 1,000 steps you can do 10,000."