Close to 100 runners and walkers came out on Saturday, June 15 for the 2nd annual Friends of Steve Sadownik Memorial Run — the event in memory of the long-time community volunteer who passed away suddenly of natural causes on June 16 of last year.
“He was an amazing gentleman. He impacted the community hugely,” said Laurie Cardinal with the Vertical Slam Ultimate Challenge, the group that established the run in his honour in 2018.
While one of Sadownik’s passions was long-distance running, and the symbolic reason behind this particular event, Cardinal says it was his coaching of the Inconnu Swim Club that many will likely remember him for.
“For years, he took them (the swimmers) to the national level. He put the city on the map.”
Cardinal believes it was that drive that translated into his running successes.
“He was an amazing ultra-runner. He placed first in his class in many “ultras” across Canada and in the world.”
She also describes her departed friend as very humble.
“He would talk to anybody. Would always have a big smile. Would stop whatever he was doing to help anybody," said Cardinal.
Choosing the location for the course was by no means, a coincidence, as Cardinal pointed out.
“It was one of his favourite trails. He always had a quote he would tell fellow (local) runners. The worst ultra-marathon in the world would be like doing multiple loops on Fish Creek...so that’s what we’re doing today,” as Cardinal laughs.
He was also known for being a smooth and quiet runner, she joked. “We’d be out here running and talking and he would nip up behind us and scare the bejesus out of us. Huge wave. Huge smile every time he saw you.”
Although final numbers aren't quite in, about $1800 was raised at this year's event. Some of that total, Cardinal said, came from people who just came down to the Community Forest to drop off a donation.
She said feedback from the participants, who did take part in the run/walk, was extremely positive, especially in the way the fundraiser was set up.
“The fact there was no pressure and there was no time limit, was well-received,” said Cardinal.
Although it was spread over a 12-hour window (noon to midnight) participants could do the four-kilometre circuit as many times as they wanted to before stopping or take a break and then continue on; some even telling Cardinal how events like this are helping them reach their fitness goals.
“Steve would have loved that!” Cardinal said.
Relatives and friends of the Sadownik family are now working on a special project with the City of Fort St. John and a potential sponsor -- part of the money raised this past weekend to go towards establishing a memorial bench in honour of Steve and his wife, Nicole, who was lost to cancer only one short year earlier.