Jackie Kivol crosses the finish line after 50 kilometres.
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50km run raises money for Saskatoon Food Bank

When Jackie Kivol was in her early 30s, she logged a DNF in her fifth marathon.

She was determined to tackle the distance again and make it to the finish line. But then she had kids and finding time to train became harder. Kivol set herself a goal: to run a marathon by the time she was 50.

Kivol planned to do that this year, the year she turned 50, and had contemplated racing the REVEL Rockies marathon in Colorado in June. But then restrictions in place because of COVID-19 forced the cancellation of mass gathering events around the world and Kivol realized she would not be able to compete in a traditional marathon in 2020.

“I just started looking at other options,” she said. “And I started seeing all these people doing different things like backyard marathons and marathons around the block and I thought ‘I can do this’ and it would be really nice to do it virtually.”

Jackie Kivol, left, ran 50 kilometres the day after she turned 50.
Jackie Kivol, left, ran 50 kilometres the day after she turned 50.

Kivol modified her goal and aimed to run 50 kilometers on May 15, the day after she turned 50.

“COVID has taken so much from so many and I just kind of felt that if I could run through this and do this it’s kind of my way of fighting back a bit,” she said.

She decided to put all the money she would have spent on a race registration and travel toward the Saskatoon Food Bank, which she knew needed support more than ever given the pandemic. She invited friends and teammates to give to the organization as well and hoped to raise $500 by running 50 kilometres in her 50th year. In the end she raised about $3,000.

“It totally surpassed my expectations so I feel thrilled that we were able to raise that much and that it’s going to people that need it,” she says.

Friends and family cheer on Jackie Kivol.
Friends and family cheer on Jackie Kivol.

Kivol’s route took her on three loops around her house and she invited her friends and family to join her in a physically distanced way for portions of the run. Some ran beside her, others biked and some stood on the sidelines waving signs and shouting encouragement.

“Seeing those people that I hadn’t seen for so long really took my mind off the running and it was fun,” Kivol said. “It made it a lot more special having people along at different parts. It was just an amazing experience.”

Kivol had never run 50 kilometres before and didn’t know how she’d feel in the final kilometres. She worried she might be walking or crawling by the end. But she fed off the energy of those who supported her and never hit the wall. Six hours and 15 minutes after she started she was still running as she hit the toilet-paper finish tape her family had set up in her yard.

She says the hardest part was not the running, but the fact that she couldn’t hug everyone who had come out to support her.

“It just ended up way better than I could have imagined,” she said. “And raising money for the food bank made it just super special.”