Marilyn Doner

Featured Runner – July

Marilyn Doner

Age: 49
Interests: Football (Go BOMBERS!), Family & her grandchildren’s sports
Job: Pension Specialist
Mantra: “She may be little but she is fierce”


Meet Marilyn!

Marilyn hasn’t been running long, a mere two and a half years to be precise. Marilyn’s one those runners that actually prefers to run in winter and take the summer easier or even…gasp…off from running to enjoy what our short Manitoba summers have to offer. Don’t believe us? All you really need to look at is when she started running for proof. Marilyn was one of those die hard runners that started her journey in January…and not just any January. She started the winter that earned itself that coveted title “Colder than Mars”.

So what prompted her to start this running journey during what would prove to be the coldest winter on record in ages and sent even the hardiest of runners into hibernation? The answer was simple; her dad. Her father passed away at the age of 47 and that number became a milestone to her and her siblings. Marilyn wanted to do something to commemorate her dad’s passing as she approached that number, so she decided learning how to run was going to be it.

Her family thought she was nuts; you see growing up sports and Marilyn never really got along, always getting picked last for teams usually doesn’t foster warm and fuzzy feelings about sports or any athletic endeavor for that matter. However Marilyn is the type of woman that once she decides she’s going to do something, she sets her mind to it and does it. Not finishing is never an option.

Marilyn joined a local learn to run clinic out of the Running Room and had all the usual hesitations. Everyone would look like the cover of a magazine; they’d all be super skinny and be wearing brand name matching clothing. Turns out everyone looked pretty normal and down to earth; “I’ll think I’ll come back” she thought, and come back she did. Every single week Marilyn showed up no matter what the weather, ready to do the work and more often than not, she was the only one.

In the beginning the prospect of 3&1’s was daunting, but before long she found herself toeing the line at Trek for Tourette’s and had fallen in love with what running had brought into her life. Not long after that she found herself signing up for clinic after clinic and this past May she found herself finishing her first Full Marathon in Fargo. It wasn’t easy, but after losing her niece in a car accident in December, she found no matter how hard it seemed in the moment, she knew it had a purpose. It wasn’t just about her; there was a much bigger picture and force driving her towards her goals.

When asked what running brought to her life the answer is not an unfamiliar one. The people. They’re everyday people just like you and me. They come in all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life yet they all have a common bond. They run for fun. On purpose. Without being chased by a bear. Running becomes a form of therapy, a release of the day’s stresses. Running partners became confidents, for when you spend as much time training for a marathon as one does; no topic is off limits, no secret is safe.

So what’s next in Marilyn quest for personal growth? Well she turns 50 next year and we would not be at all surprised to see her out at Spruce Woods next year tackling her first Ultra Marathon. Something that she herself admits, never in a million years would she have seen herself doing; although the same can be said for running a ½ marathon. Running has challenged and changed her own preconceived ideas about what she’s capable of.

Running has also brought Marilyn out of her shell. When she first started running you could find her sitting in the back of the room, trying her hardest to be invisible. These days she’s become less shy and has fallen into many a conversation with a complete stranger triggered by something as simple as a race shirt or race bag.

When asked, what’s the one piece of advice you would give to someone new to running her answer was brilliant; “Don’t book a room on the second floor in a hotel without an elevator after running a marathon”. Wisdom.