By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario - For nine years, Christian Belair has been running for a cure.
In 2006, the 39-year-old Summerstown resident took the top spot at the Run to End MS fundraising event's half-marathon (21 kilometres).
As he laced up his sneakers at the 13th annual run this Saturday at St. Lawrence College, his quest for victory and a cure continued.
"I'm here every year because this event supports a great cause," said Belair. "Plus, I love running on the bike path along the river, it's very scenic."
Since he's quicker than most, Belair enjoys the encouragement and high fives from fellow runners (and walkers) as he circles back after 10 kilometres.
Pat Clarke, race director and event founder, said because of participants like Belair, $300,000 has been raised for the MS Society of Canada - Cornwall & District Chapter.
Over $22,000 was collected for the local MS Society this year; 400 people participated.
Despite the weather, we had a great turnout," said Clarke.
Mild rain and cool winds were no match for spirited competitors eager to raise awareness and funds for MS research. But the number of participants dropped by nearly 100 this year, which organizers are chalking up to fair-weather runners (and walkers).
Team (John) Earle was there in force, as the new Ontario Liberal candidate for SDSG returned for his third year with family and campaign supporters.
Guy St-Jean, the new vice-chair of the MS Society's Cornwall chapter, was overwhelmed by the level of community support at the event.
Montreal's Alexandre Gendin, 47, saw the race as great "tune-up" for an upcoming Ottawa marathon.
Running partners Brenda Sturkenboom, from Williamstown and Cornwall's Courtney Conway participated for the same reasons.
"For the love of running and to support a great cause," they said.
Participants came as far as Newfoundland and Syracuse. Clarke noted that in 2016, the race's 15th anniversary, a full marathon will be added to the event.
"We really appreciate all the support," he said. "This is a key fundraiser for the local MS Society."