Father-son running duo embarking on first race together
Ty Arsenault plays competitive tennis and basketball. Now the 12-year-old Statesville Christian School student has picked up a longtime passion of his father, Gavin Arsenault.
“My dad said it’s a good sport for tennis and basketball,” Ty said. “At first I was a little hesitant because all you do is run.”
Ty’s newfound interest has him preparing for his first race. He and Gavin are entered to participate in Saturday’s “Run for the Green.” They’ll run the 5 kilometers. The 15th annual event draws attention to the Davidson Lands Conservancy, a nonprofit land trust that works with willing landowners to save land in the northern Mecklenburg County town.
Due to circumstances surrounding COVID-19, each of this year’s scheduled races will be run virtually.
Two options are available: run anywhere, which permits runners to run on their own anywhere to complete one of three distance choices (5K, 10K, half marathon); the second category, dubbed “run our course,” allows runners to download the app RaceJoy on their cell phones, and it will guide them along the Davidson course for the respective distances.
Gavin and his son will complete the 5K by running the streets of their Shannon Acres neighborhood here in Statesville.
“This is a first,” acknowledged Gavin, General Manager of Trump National Golf Club in Mooresville.
Other than the unusual format, this is not new territory for him. A former high school state champion in cross country and the 1-mile, Gavin has put a lot of miles on his legs.
The 61-year-old ran his first marathon at Walt Disney World in 1995.
In 2013, he ran the Philadelphia Marathon in 3 hours, 8 minutes to qualify for the Boston Marathon. In Boston, Gavin completed the course 15 minutes before the two bombs went off near the finish line. It’s a harrowing story, but one he’s thankful he’s alive to tell.
The 2017 New York City Marathon marked Gavin’s 46th marathon. He took part as a member of the St. Jude team and to benefit a charity he’s specifically fond of: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He’s remained active in running and raising funds for St. Jude’s over the last decade.
Gavin introduced Ty to the sport, and the father-son duo began running together eight weeks ago. They warm up on exercise bikes in the renovated shed behind their house.
“When it started getting easier running it was a little more fun,” Ty said.
Their first race together this weekend happens to fall on Gavin’s 62nd birthday.
“Since it’s the 26th (of September), and that’s his birthday, we’ll try to do it in 26 minutes, or even better,” Ty said of the 5K.
How quickly Gavin completes this race isn’t a priority.
“Time on the clock is not as important as time with my son,” he said.
He expects it to be a “great experience.”
Conversations on the move, Gavin said, aren’t necessarily the same conversations carried out in a car.
“And ultimately, other things will come out of this,” he noted. “We’ll do other races. The more we do run I’m sure there will be some competitive juices.
“But the big thing is time spent with my son. That’s the ultimate time.”