Nfld. & Labrador

These MUN students are running Signal Hill each day of November, for a good cause

A group of students are sweating it out to have fun and raise money, although they admit the run can be challenging in November.

Weather can be challenging, but that's part of the fun, say runners

Students at Memorial University's medical school have been running Signal Hill's trails every day to raise money for the local arthritis society. From left: Liam Robbins, Brett Halloway, Joey Landine, Claire Neilson, Emily Collis, Emily Philpott, Nadine Houlihan and Anthony Duchesne. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

A group of Memorial University medical students are running one of St. John's most challenging routes every day for an entire month, sweating it out up Signal Hill in support of Newfoundland and Labrador's Arthritis Society.

The idea for November's event, called Hills for Humanity, sprang from second-year students Brett Holloway and Joey Landine, both of whom are part of the newly created MunMed Adventure Sports Club. The group organized a fundraiser running a 50-kilometre race on the East Coast Trail earlier this year, and were looking for a new challenge when the calorie-burning idea came to mind.

"Me and Joey were chatting one evening and we thought it would be neat to get something started that would kind of engage the community a little bit and [bring] a bit more public awareness," Holloway said Sunday.

"It gives us an opportunity to kind of showcase what we've been doing in the community."

The group settled on the idea of tackling the three-kilometre run on the Signal Hill trail in St. John's, and chose a cause close to one of their members. Claire Neilson, a first-year student from Charlottetown, lives with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and pitched the idea of helping the local arthritis society.

"It's been something that I really struggled with for a long time. But I found that through exercise it really helps mitigate the bad effects of the disease," Neilson said.

"I kind of put forward the idea of the arthritis society because they took really good care of me when I was in the pediatric centre back in Halifax. They agreed, and here we are."

Neilson, left, lives with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and decided to take on running with Signal Hill with her classmates, including Collis. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Windy, cold, and slippery

The team has split up the running schedule over the course of the month, with most members completing the run around five times each. Landine said the area's weather conditions can present a challenge, particularly in November, but that's part of the fun.

"Everyone knows Signal Hill is windy and cold sometimes, so every day provides a new challenge, for sure." he said.

"We've definitely had a couple of days that were a little bit slippery, so we have to make sure we watch ourselves during those," added Emily Collis, a first-year student from St. John's. "But it's been a really great challenge."

Neilson has completed the run five times throughout November, and said the idea of running for a cause so close to her has been rewarding since the arthritis and medical community has given her so much help and support.

"I think this is a really good way to kind of dive both feet in, especially with COVID and the fact that we're not actually allowed to be in the clinics interacting with the community," she said. "It's kind of nice to be able to give back in this little more of an interactive way."

"To be able to give back is just an awesome feeling," Collis said.

The running crew enters the home stretch this week, and had raised $950 as of Sunday.

They're inviting others to join them in the final push, including Premier Andrew Furey, who, they said, they would love to run with if the opportunity came.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Jeremy Eaton

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