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Runners head south
Sanikiluaq's Paatsaali Running Club treads on Toronto streets

Peter Worden
Northern News Services
Published Monday, May 13, 2013

After running into a few problems, the boys from Paatsaali High School arrived in time for their half-marathon and five-kilometre runs last weekend in Toronto.

NNSL photo/graphic

Sanikiluaq students Noah Emikotailak, left, Janie Audla, Willie Iqaluq, teacher Terri Skinner, Paddy Aqiatusuq, and Aullajuuk Ippak after running over 21 km at a Toronto half-marathon on May 4. - photo courtesy of Terri Skinner

The club was fogged in and later grounded at the Sanikiluaq airport due to high wind for two days. Air Inuit sent for the runners in a Twin Otter. Then, while landing in Montreal, the plane's hydraulic system overheated on its approach.

"They weren't sure if the landing gear was down or on fire and we had an emergency landing, but a completely safe landing," said teacher and running club organizer Terri Skinner, who called the start of the trip a bit of a nail-biter.

It has been fast times at Paatsaali High since Skinner began the popular 36-member-strong running club. Skinner, a math teacher and a trained runner herself, challenged some of her students to give up smoking and try to keep up with her regiment. To her surprise she had so many takers that she now takes two running trips south, one with the boys and one with the girls. Last fall, the girls ran in a Winnipeg fun run.

In Toronto, the runners grabbed their race kits the night before and Saturday at 6:30 a.m. a bus dropped off the half-marathon team on north Yonge Street - the world's longest street, according to the Guinness Book of World Records 1999. The team then back-tracked the half-marathon distance of 21.1 km (13.1 miles).

"It was a tough run no matter which measure you used and the team did a great job," said Skinner.

She said the boys had a good time and literally made some good times, too, as they came through the finish line chute and saw the official race time results. One runner, Noah Emikotailak, made it in just over two hours.

"We all did awesome," she said. "Every runner finished and every runner had a good time."

It wasn't all pounding the pavement for the Sanikiluaq students. They also took in Toronto's Hockey Hall of Fame, the Royal Ontario Museum and watched a Leafs' playoff game broadcast on the Jumbo-tron outside the Air Canada Centre with 30,000 other Torontonians.

"It wasn't as good as the real game but more within our fundraising budget," Skinner joked, adding that the team acted as class-act ambassadors for the territory. "Everyone was delighted to meet these students from Nunavut, and they represented the community very well. I'm proud of them all."

The Paatsaali running club arrived back safely in Sanikiluaq May 8.

"Once again the team has down the town proud," said Skinner. "They have shown what it takes to be part of a team and showed dedication and strength to pass a challenge like this."

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