February Runner of the Month: Chief Troy Thompson
Meet our February Runner of the Month: Chief Troy Thompson. Chief Thompson is a member of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, just outside Cornwall, and will be running the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon to raise money and awareness for childhood obesity, particularly in Akwesasne.
“Childhood obesity is a growing problem in my territory and across North America,” says Chief Thompson. Chief Thompson sees this as a particular problem for his community, and for indigenous peoples in general, as changes in environment and lifestyle have led to less healthy diets and more sedentary lives.
Though Chief Thompson has been running throughout his life, beginning as a kid and running in the town longboat races (“I always won it!”) and continuing through high school and boarding school – he didn’t run his first marathon until 2004.
“I was living in New York City and every year I would go down and watch the New York City Marathon,” he says. “That one year, Team Hoyt ran by and I got chills down my spine. I looked at my beer and I thought ‘I should be on the other side of this barrier.’ So, I signed up for the lottery and got in.”
After completing his first marathon, Chief Thompson continued to run, but focused on shorter distances, such as 5Ks and 10Ks. But after turning 40, he found he had more and more trouble keeping the weight off,so, in 2017, he decided to commit to running the Quebec City Marathon.
After seeing how childhood obesity was affecting kids in Akwesasne, including members of his own family, he decided to use his run to raise money and awareness around the issue.
Last year, at the Quebec City Marathon, Chief Thompson raised $3,800 for the Akwesasne’s Iakwa’shatste Youth Fitness program. This year, he’s upping the goal to $10,000.
The relatively new program was founded by two former students from the Akwesasne territory who, as new mothers, saw a gap in physical activities geared towards children.
“It’s a wonderful initiative specialising in nutrition, exercise and sponsorship for youth activities,” he says. “Every Sunday in the summer they take kids and their families for hikes. They also host workshops on youth empowerment, courses on nutrition and on how to prepare healthy meals on the go. The beauty of the program is that it is very mobile; it offers before and after school programming, programming in schools, and will provide programming wherever there is a need.”
For Chief Thompson, running is both a way to combat the impacts of unhealthy eating and to encourage others to run. His 20K training route through Akwesasne takes him across the borders of Ontario, Quebec and New York State. Kids have picked up on his route and will often wave as he goes by or meet him along the way.
He’s also got local youth on board to participate in Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. Joining Chief Thompson in Ottawa will be a group of 32 kids from the local school who will be taking part in the Scotiabank Ottawa Kids Marathon, while lining up alongside him in the marathon is an 18 year-old cross-country runner who is aiming to achieve a Boston Qualifying time.
For Chief Thompson, inspiring kids is just the beginning because he knows they can go far in sports. “We have world class athletes here, including 3 hopefuls in wrestling. I would love to see an athlete from Akwesasne in the Olympics.”
You can support Chief Thompson’s efforts through his GoFundMe page.
Want to help kids in your area be more active? A great place to start is the Scotiabank Kids Marathon. Find out more about this unique race and training program.