one thing to think that it would be nice for the whole
family to run together, to just do something. It’s
another to actually sign up, show up and cross the finish
line together. But that’s exactly what three generations
of the McGill family did at Sudbury Rocks on May 28.
Dave, 77, Liam, 43, and Fiona, 10 —
plus Caterina Desormeaux, 11, Fiona’s friend —
ran and finished the Sudbury Rocks Equipment North five-kilometre
run/walk. They were among the 540-plus entries in the
“I wanted to do it because it was
my dad’s birthday and he wanted to do the race with
three generations of McGills,” says Fiona, a Grade
5 student at Alexander Public School.
She also runs cross-country and track,
is part of Track North’s Bobcats program, and plays
She was happy to run as a gift to her
father, Liam, who works for the Ontario Ministry of Mines.
Her friend Desormeaux, 11, has been training with Dave
McGill, her “Poppy.”
How they managed all this came down to
a simple race plan: they were determined to stay and finish
“We jogged together and when one
of us needed to walk, we walked,” Fiona explains.
The plan was to run five minutes and walk
for one. They stuck to that plan for the first three kilometres.
In the final two kilometres, they took more walking breaks.
They finished in 38:02, according to official results.
(Although they were finishing together,
according to the results, Dave McGill finished in 38:01).
Ten family groups entered Sudbury Rocks,
while others signed up as individuals.
That’s what happened with the McGill
generation plus one group.
McGill senior had already signed up when
Liam approached him in March. He knew the run was coming
in May and asked his dad and Fiona if they were interested.
With Dave already registered, they couldn’t go as
a family group.
“The aim was staying and finishing
together,” Liam adds.
Still, people can be competitive —
Liam says he’s not, though he did play basketball
— but it was a conscious decision to stick together.
Every now and then, he would think if
I took off now, what could I do it in? Could he break
Dave McGill signed up thinking he’d
be in good shape by race time, “but I wasn’t,
so I was quite happy to run with them.”
Good shape, of course, is relative as
anyone would be happy to be in McGill senior’s fitness.
Over the winter, he attended twice-weekly
spin classes at the YMCA. He runs about five times a week
He had hoped for a 25-minute 5K run,
but wasn’t at that point in his own fitness training.
“That’s why I was happy to
run in a group. But it wasn’t a matter of time.
It was a matter of running together and encouraging Caterina
and Fiona in any activity.”
They had never run a 5K before, although
Fiona had extended her distance running over the period
up to Sudbury Rocks.
“We probably both would have liked
to push for a personal best time but the focus for us
was running and finishing as a family,” Liam says.
They both hope it inspires a lifetime
of activity for Fiona and their younger daughter, nine-year-old
Niamh, where they run well into their adulthood. Fiona
and Niamh are Dave McGill’s only grandchildren.
As for how this might inspire others,
or offer a way to do something like this, the McGills
are adamant that advance planning is the key.
“Decide well in advance and then
register, so that you’ve got no choice,” Liam
says. “Because you’ve got no choice, you’ve
got to start training, doing some running in the lead-up.”
He and Fiona would do a distance run,
getting up to 4K. Sometimes, they ran home from Fiona’s
Dave McGill agrees that there should be
plenty of lead time, even for walking that five-kilometre
“It’s pretty hard for a kid
to just go into that without having done anything.”
The plan now is to expand the family group
for next year — or perhaps sooner, in this summer’s
races — and add Niamh and their mom, Dana, to the
mix, so that the whole clan is involved next year.
There were 50 family member participants
at Sudbury Rocks, more than 1,300 overall in all events
plus children in the 1K run, with their parents.
All Rocks run results can be found at
For all racing updates, images of our
own backyard, and miscellaneous sporting items, visit
Sudbury Rocks Running Club at sudburyrocks.ca.