Members of the Hernandez family don’t mind going the extra mile to spend some time together.
In fact, they’ll go about 26 of them.
Brandon restaurateur Ben Hernandez and his wife Debbie are joining up with their daughters, Elizabeth and Natalie, to run a pair of half-marathons this year, starting with Sunday’s Manitoba Marathon in Winnipeg.
Ben and Debbie, both 52, have been avid participants in the annual Father’s Day race for several years now, a tradition started by Debbie in honour of her mother, who died on Father’s Day when she was younger.
Ben said they’ve run more than 10 half-marathons together, while Debbie has run the full Manitoba Marathon twice. The event will be even more special this time around, with Elizabeth, 21, and Natalie, 20, joining in.
“We were talking and trying to get everybody to come out together and earlier this year, we just kind of made the commitment that we were all going to do it together and it would be a good way for us to celebrate,” Ben said. “And so we committed to do two this year. One is going to be the Manitoba Marathon and the other one is going to be toward the end of August in Vancouver. … We signed up all together as a family and there is now way out now.”
Taking part in the Manitoba event was a no-brainer for the family and they decided to run in Vancouver because they love the city and its scenery. Of course Vancouver’s topography will add a new level of difficulty that they hadn’t put much thought into until after they’d registered. To prepare, the family has been doing some training on Brandon’s hills.
“A lot of people that have either participated or have seen it, they tell us it’s going to be very painful,” Ben said. “A lot of hills to climb and stuff like that.”
Hills won’t be a problem on Sunday’s flat course. What the family will encounter is a massive spectacle with more than 13,000 participants in the various events plus all of the spectators and other well-wishers.
“Winnipeg does a really good job, and the people of Winnipeg they come out to support us even though we start running very early,” Ben said. “… There is live entertainment, there is all kinds of people that come out to cheer you on. There is no lack of support over there. … Even the beer guy, he comes out and he gives samples of beer, which some people look at it as a fun thing, but it’s a little reward that goes a long way.”
But put aside all of the hoopla and Ben said the time his family will spend together is the most important part, particularly the chance to see his daughters at the finish line on Father’s Day.
“We’re very excited about it,” he said. “… It’s a huge event for the Hernandez family.”