1712: that’s how many athletes crossed the mini-marathon finish line today, April 25th, at the 35th Défi sportif AlterGo.
Sporting running shoes and taking part along with the crowd was actor, author, and ultra-marathoner Patrice Godin, one of the event’s ambassadors.

“I’m supposed to be here to encourage, motivate, and support them, but honestly, they do all that for me! I think it’s amazing to see the effort and passion these athletes put into it, it’s honestly fantastic!” commented Mr. Godin.

“I’m a runner myself—ultra-marathons—so if hadn’t been able to run I would have been all twitchy on the sidelines, all while trying to encourage everyone,” he added.

Students becoming masters

What awaited after the mini-marathon finish line? Nothing less than energy, pride, and satisfaction with having surpassed oneself. Though the rain may have dampened the streets, it couldn’t beat athletes today.

“I had a great race! It went really well. Went I started I was fine, but by the end I was out of breath,” explained a proud Patricia Desjardins-Provost, a participant and student at École secondaire Mgr-A.-M.-Parent, in Saint-Hubert.

Preparation for the Défi sportif AlterGo begins when the school year begins at École secondaire Mgr-A.-M.-Parent. Students are required to train over the course of several months, and despite the effort required to achieve their goals, they tend to enjoy training and preparing for the marquee event.

“This is a big day for everyone; they’re excited and they’ve been training for it since the school year started. Today, they’ve achieved what they set out to accomplish, so they’re very proud. It’s a great event we’re fortunate to have every year,” stated Isabelle Raiche, who teaches at the school. As with all athletes, it’s not just training that counts as preparation: nutrition and teamwork are also highlighted. “It’s not hard to get them motivated, and there’s definitely a ‘group effect’ to that; they easily encourage each other.”

Patrice Godin has cherished his first-ever Défi sportif AlterGo experience from the very start, and its enabled him to become aware of the realities that various families face.

“I have three kids who are in perfect health, and I’m perfectly healthy. I run, I train, I don’t give it a second thought; I think we’re all largely disconnected from the reality here. However, seeing everyone’s positivity, their pride, their happiness, it makes it all so real.”

Interested onlookers from Trinidad and Tobago

Atiba Antoine and Francine Look-Hong travelled all the way from Trinidad and Tobago to Montreal to be among the hundreds of Défi sportif AlterGo volunteers.

“The rain brought us here!” laughed Francine Look-Hong. “We’d like to bring the Défi sportif AlterGo model home with us—albeit on a smaller scale, and under the sun!”

The Trinidadian duo volunteered at the BisFed Boccia World Open, and decided to use Wednesday to watch the mini-marathon—something they’ll never forget.

“See the athletes’ happiness, it’s irreplaceable. Despite limitations, nothing is impossible to them!” said Atiba Antoine.

As soon as they land back in Trinidad and Tobago, their first step will be to unite the countries in the Caribbean region. “We’ll definitely keep in touch with the Défi sportif AlterGo team, so we can learn from their expertise,” affirms Francine Look-Hong.
Who knows, maybe one day the Défi sportif AlterGo will have a twin event… in the sunny Caribbean!