Each year Brainsport presents the Ric Hanna Award to a runner who demonstrates leadership and makes running more meaningful for fellow run club members. This year’s Ric Hanna Award winner is Don Cochrane, who has been a part of Brainsport’s run clubs since the run club’s first meeting in July 1991.
Prior to accepting the award on Dec. 22, Cochrane spoke with the Brainsport Times about his journey in running and what the Brainsport run club has meant to him.
Don Cochrane’s fascination with running began in his early teens.
He remembers growing up in Ontario and being captivated by stories of the great athletes who raced the Boston Marathon.
“I thought ‘Nobody in their right mind could ever run 26 miles,’ ” recalls Cochrane, now 78. “This just caught the imagination of a 13 year old. But way down deep, I said ‘One day, one day I’m going to do that.’ "
Cochrane didn’t start running right away though. He played hockey in high school and was a boxer at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. where he did his undergraduate degree in English and Philosophy. It wasn’t until he moved to California to teach that he started running at age 36.
“I realized, possibly, that the 30s were for getting on with dreams you had when you were a teenager that you didn’t get to in your 20s,” Cochrane said. “So I started running at night because I was afraid that somebody would ask me what I was doing. And the answer would be I was preparing for Boston Marathon. And I could run one mile. And I didn’t want the embarrassment of being asked what I was doing.”
Cochrane started running farther and eventually enlisted the help of track coach Laszlo Tabori, a Hungarian middle- and long-distance runner who defected to the United States at the close of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Tabori taught Cochrane how to structure a workout and how to recover from one
“If I ever became a runner, Laszlo made me a runner. I’m indebted to him,” Cochrane said.
Cochrane moved to Vancouver in 1976 and ran the Vancouver Marathon in May 1977, in his second year of running. He clocked a 2:39:16, which punched his ticket to Boston. It remains his personal best to this day.
Don Cochrane, dressed as Beethoven, is a familiar face at the Saskatchewan Marathon, where he volunteers to conduct runners when the course splits off for different distances.
Cochrane moved to Saskatoon in 1980 to become department head of educational foundations for the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Education. He joined the Saskatoon Road Runners Association and trained with other members of the group. He also coached young track athletes, including Brian Michasiw, who would go on to open Brainsport in 1991.
Cochrane attended Brainsport’s first run club when the initiative launched less than a week after the store opened and has been a consistent presence ever since. His longest absence from the club was from December 2002 to March 2003 when he was recovering from a quadruple bypass surgery necessitated by the narrowing of the arteries supplying blood to his heart.
Cochrane is often a group leader for Brainsport’s run clubs and, for the past few years, has overseen a nine-and-one group where participants run nine minutes and walk one minute.
“People come to trust me. If they run with me they know the pace will be steady and no one will be left behind and we help each other through,” Cochrane said.
Don Cochrane living his dream by running the Boston Marathon.
“I couldn’t train alone now. So if I’m going to run at all, I have to be running most of the time with a group. And they see me as helping them through and I see them as helping me through. We don’t articulate, but we know full well what’s going on.”
Ric Hanna, for whom the Ric Hanna Award is named, was one of Saskatchewan’s best marathon runners and led Brainsport run club groups for many years before Huntington’s Disease took its toll on his body. He died in 2016.
Cochrane ran with Hanna at Brainsport and said he remembers his late friend as “an amazing runner, but also a very decent human being and a fine educator.”
“It’s an honour to receive an award established for someone that I knew and respected and admired,” Cochrane said.
Cochrane’s next running goal is to run a half marathon at age 80. He last raced a half marathon four years ago in Vancouver where he ran a 2:07. He hopes the half marathon he runs at 80 will not be slower than his 2:39 personal-best marathon
Until Thursday December 27: December Brainsport Lunchtime Runs
Meet at the clocktower across from the Sheraton hotel in downtown on Thursdays at 12:08 p.m. for a 30 minute run. This informal workout is suitable for all levels of runners. No charge, no sign-up, just bring a friend and come ready to run!
Monday December 31: No Frills Chili Run
Brainsport is hosting a no-swag year-end run in support of the Child of the Cross running clinics. Register in-store for a five-kilometre run or 2.5-kilometre walk. Registration is $20 and the race starts at 5 p.m. After the run you will get a bowl of chili, a dessert and some sparkling apple juice.
Saturday January 5: Transition Sport and Fitness is hosting an indoor "Bring in the New Year" Brick workout
This workout runs from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Saskatoon Field House. $20 individual drop in and $25 family options available. There will be a triathlete/duathlete option as well as a no-biking strength/run circuit that will be family friendly. Register here.
Sunday Mar. 3, 2019: Brainsport Brainfreeze
Brainsport’s Brainfreeze is a winter run that raises money for the University of Saskatchewan cross country team. Enjoy the snow-coated scenery as you choose from a five-kilometre, 10-kilometre or half marathon distance along the beautiful South Saskatchewan River. Register now.
Saturday May 11, 2019: Royal Road Race (Regina)
The ninth-annual Royal Road Race, hosted by the Jaleta Pacers and the RCMP is once again being held on Mother’s Day weekend. Since it began, this race has contributed over $161,549 to local charities. Held on the RCMP Training Academy grounds in Regina, this fast course has something for everyone with five-kilometre and 10-kilometre races, a five-kilometre walk, a five-kilometre wheelchair and a one-kilometre Mini-Mountie run for children. This race sells out fast so make sure to register soon. Prices increase Mar. 31.
Sunday May 26, 2019: Saskatchewan Marathon
The Saskatchewan Marathon is the oldest marathon in Saskatchewan. The event is organized and produced by the Saskatoon Road Runners Association. The 2019 Saskatchewan Marathon features Craven SPORT services five-kilometre, Goodlife Fitness 10-kilometre, half-marathon and marathon event distances along a scenic course highlighting the world-renowned Meewasin Valley. Easily deemed one of the most scenic running events in Canada, the Saskatchewan Marathon is also a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. Sign up today. Prices increase Mar. 1.
Courses and programs
Brainsport Running Academy: Full Marathon and Half Marathon Clinic
This clinic, coached by Pat Somerville, is ideal for less experienced runners or those looking to improve their previous half or full marathon times. It is recommended you be able to run 40 minutes consecutively before joining this clinic. The clinic runs Monday evenings from Brainsport starting at 6 p.m. It runs from Jan. 21 to May 20 and will prepare runners for the 2019 Saskatchewan Marathon on May 26. In addition to weekly coached runs, there will be informational sessions on topics such as injury prevention, core stability, running technique, nutrition, yoga for runners, and more. Register online now.
Transition Sport and Fitness Triathlon Training Group
Virtual Cycle Sundays and Virtual Pilates Mondays
Breathe Move Be Yoga for Athletes
Track and Field Volunteers Needed
Saskatoon Road Runners Association Matching Donations to Improve Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Site
Until Jan. 31, The Saskatoon Road Runners Association will match donations up to $50,000 to improve the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan site and adjacent trails. Donate and learn more about the project through the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan website.
Saskatchewan Marathon Seeking Pace Bunnies
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