Navy 10K in Helsinki

LCdr Nathan Decicco (left), XO of HMCS Charlottetown, and Cdr Jeff Hutt, CO of Charlottetown, present AB Francom with a Physical Fitness Award at sea en route to Wilhelmshaven, Germany.
Photo: Cpl J. W. S Houck, FIS Halifax

HMCS Charlottetown runs Navy 10K in Helsinki

By Lt(N) Meghan Jacques,
HMCS Charlottetown

The Navy 10k began in 1986, and has since seen thousands of participants show their support for the men and women of the RCN, CAF, and their families. Open to military and civilian participants, the run fosters not only support of the military, but encourages fitness and healthy living for all ages.  At 10:30 AM on August 26, while deployed on Op REASSURANCE, members of HMCS Charlottetown joined together to show their support of the annual run—able to participate thanks to the Virtual Run option, and the dedication of running-enthusiast AB Ryan Francom.

AB Francom, hailing from Morin Heights, QC, is a Naval Combat Information Operator from Charlottetown,  employed as an Anti-Submarine Plotting Operator and a member of the ship’s dive team. Additionally, this year he was the organizer of the Navy 10K for Charlottetown on her deployment with Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1). He is an all-around active and enthusiastic team player who loves getting involved around the ship, and had this to say about his role as the coordinator for Charlottetown’s run.

“A week before we left for Op Reassurance I received a message from LS Justin Daoust [a financial clerk also deployed with Charlotteotwn] asking me if I intended to take part in the Navy 10K Virtual run option while we were sailing,” AB Francom explained, when asked how he found out about the option of hosting a satellite run, “because he had participated in the Navy 10K in previous years, he was on the mailing list for the Navy 10km, and found out about it over email.”

“For the last two years I had partaken in the Navy 10K…and wasn’t looking forward to missing it this year. So I was immediately excited by the idea of a virtual run,” he added. “Initially, we intended to just run by ourselves…but we decided that it would be more exciting to open the run up to as many members of the ship’s company as possible.”

Not willing to keep the good news to himself, AB Francom began canvassing the crew for interest and support. “From that point I began planning Charlottetown’s Navy 10K; luckily the quiet transit across the Atlantic afforded me the time to begin setting things in place. We knew our first port in Wilhelmshaven, Germany would be busy, so our second port, Helsinki, Finland seemed to offer the best option…besides, with so many scenic locations it was an ideal city to stage the run. We eventually settled on running Töölönlahti, one of the most popular of all running loops in Helsinki.”                                                 

The Töölönlahti route is a beautiful and quiet path following the shoreline with views of the Finlandia Hall, the Opera House and the tower of the Olympic Stadium, and served as a perfect location but AB Francom’s work wasn’t over just because he had chosen the date and location.

“As soon as I had the plan together our Sports Officer, PO2 Shawn Bell, sent the details in an email to the ship’s company…after which I received slow but steady interest from the crew. In total 15 people put their names forward, some taking advantage of the Navy 10K virtual option with official registration, others just looking for an opportunity to take part in an organized run.” With participants organized, it was official. “The run was set for 10:30 on Saturday in downtown Helsinki’s Töölönlahti park.”

As with all great endeavors, there were bound to be some hurdles. As AB Francom puts it, “The day of the race was more chaotic than I would have liked; schedule mix-ups, delays, and a long walk to the starting point made for a poor tone initially. But, by the time the run had ended, most of the runners were smiling and having fun—which was ultimately the real goal of the run.”

“Overall,” he concluded with a laugh, “I would like to think of the run as a success. People enjoyed themselves and I learned quite a few things about planning a group run!”