Matija Tiani had been training for the Boston Marathon for months — then the pandemic struck and the race was cancelled.
Rather than give up or wait for the rescheduled race in September, she wanted to be able to complete the 42.2 kilometre run, while raising money for a cause near and dear to her heart.
On Monday April 20, Tiani ran the race in her hometown of Prince George, B.C., all while raising $2,495 for Autism Speaks Canada, an organization that provides resources and services for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families.
“I’m feeling great,” she told Radio West host Sarah Penton. “My calves are killing me, but I’m feeling good.”
When the race was officially postponed last month, Tiani felt she had worked hard for that race on that day and decided to do it anyway, but she wanted to have a purpose.
“For me, it’s having something to feel good about in the end,” she said.
Her husband mapped out a route on the outskirts of town, heading in and out on different highways.
Supporters set up along the route to cheer her on and supply her with water and Gatorade. When she arrived at the finish line, she had a line to cross, and there supporters gathered, physically distanced.
“Every time I’d feel a little tired, I’d get going because of the support that was out there,” she said.
She finished the run at the school she works at, with a time of three hours and 38 minutes.
Tiani is an education assistant at Sacred Heart School in Prince George, where she provides support primarily for students with autism spectrum disorder.
“This is a super hard time for them,” she said. “It makes me kind of emotional for them to just know that we’re still there and the help is still there. So I thought what better cause and just to let the people know that everybody’s important.”
Krista Clinch, with Autism Speaks Canada, was thrilled to hear about Tiani’s choice to support the organization through her race.
“I think it’s incredible,” she said. “The training involved with that, the dedication involved with it is amazing.”
Tiani has run the Boston Marathon in the past, but she said this version of it will be “a hard one to beat.”
“I broke down after, but I held it together for most of the run,” she said. “It was very emotional.”