Peninsula Runners is the brainchild of two Canadian Olympians who transformed the South Surrey – White Rock scene in 1996 when they brought their passion for running to the community: National record holders and multiple Vancouver Sun Run winners Paul Williams and Lynn Kanuka (Olympic Bronze Medalist, 1984).
Pen Run hosts fun runs, trail runs, road races and more, including the ‘Fort Langley Half’ marathon, the Run for Water and the Campbell Valley Wine Run, the name of which speaks for itself. From the nature of the events Pen Run puts on, one can see that giving back and supporting the community is at the heart of what they do.
Pen Run (Peninsula Runners Ltd.) has two stores. One in South Surrey and one in Langley. The one in Langley has a new location right on 88th near the Circle K. Pen Run has everything you need for running, jogging and exercise walking.
Pen Run is more than a couple of stores. It is an opportunity to join
a vibrant, healthy community and change your life for the better.
Paul comes by his athleticism naturally. His grandfather Jack Tait competed in the 1908 and 1912 Olympic Games and won a gold medal in the Mile at the first British Empire Games in 1911, all before heading off to war in 1915. “Smiling Jack” was well-known among fellow athletes and fans throughout North America for his raw speed and talent, public sense of fair play, and for his legendary humour.
Paul decided to take it one step further and compete in 3 separate Olympics Games! An almost unheard-of accomplishment in track and field.
“My Grandfather took a boat from Halifax to the London Olympics in 1908”, says Paul. “The trip lasted ten days, and he would run around the boat’s deck for training. His dream rubbed off on me and became my dream.”
Paul also won a gold medal in the 5,000 meters at the 1990 Goodwill Games and bronze in the 10,000 meters at the Commonwealth Games that same year. And, of course, he’s a 2-time Vancouver Sun Run winner and co-founded the event in 1985. Did I mention that he is a four-time National champion in the 5000 meters?
His first Olympics was in 1984, in Los Angeles, in front of 100,000 people. Sadly he was injured in the lead-up to those Olympics, so he became more of a cheerleader during the final. His 2nd Olympics were in 1988 in Seoul, which was marred by the Ben Johnson scandal. So his fondest memories were from the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. In his case, the third time was definitely the charm.
Paul was living at UBC and training in Pacific Spirit Park when he first moved west from Toronto in 1982. He eventually started training under legendary coach Doug Clement who was starting an elite athlete sports clinic then. Dr. Clement helped his career a great deal.
“I loved running. After all, the Marathon was the original Olympic sport. And it’s an activity some people can do into their eighties and nineties. Just make sure you have the right shoes!” he laughs. “The benefits of running are amazing. You de-stress, enjoy nature, improve your health, and make new friendships. Plus, you improve your self-image. Who can argue with that?”
He started training people at 16 years of age. One of his famous student-athletes was Kiefer Sutherland. Paul has been advising, coaching and training people for over 50 years, which is hard to believe when looking at the man. He doesn’t even look 50. The over 80 Run Club clinics that Pen Run has put on have helped over 5000 people become better runners and hopefully improved the quality of their lives.
“At most stores, you are lucky to get five minutes of attention”, says the first Canadian ever to run under 28 minutes for 10K. “They grab your shoes for you and leave. At our store, the average time we spend with you is 25 to 30 minutes. We want you to feel valued. This is our passion, and we only employ people who feel the same way. Our motto is ‘We Fit You For Life’. We don’t just train super athletes. We train anyone because running is more than a sport. It’s part of the fabric of our community.”
“And co-founder Olympic Bronze Medalist Lynn is still involved, which draws a lot of people in to spend time with the most in-demand coach and fitness advocate in BC”, he says. “She does clinics for us from time to time.”
Paul is most proud of Pen Run’s support for the construction of the track in Surrey. They raised over $150,000 to enable the city to build it, providing an invaluable facility for tens of thousands of Surrey residents and school-age runners.
“We’ve done dozens of Tuesday Run Clinics and prepared groups for 80 Marathons. We take people who are often out of shape, with no confidence or exercise routine, and get them to a place where they can run a 5K or 10K race and enjoy it.”
“One of my favourite things about the sport is the camaraderie that it breeds. Everyone is really pulling for each other. At practically every race, the biggest cheer is for the person who finishes last.”
Thanks to Pen Run and people like Paul and Lynn, Surrey is now a force in the running world. Oceans Athletics is Canada’s most prominent track club, with over 400 members, and Coastal has some of Canada’s premiere athletes.
Getting married and having kids brought Paul to South Surrey from Vancouver. “You could get a house for half the price”, he says. “But once I was here, I never wanted to leave.”
Paul has five kids. They all ran for Oceans Athletics, where they were all excellent runners; it’s in the family genes, after all.
“Everything happens for a reason, and you never know what can happen,” says Paul. “My daughter Jessie is a great runner and starred on the championship-winning UBC Women’s Soccer Team when she ruptured her achilles tendon this year. That would slow a lot of people down, but not Jess. She’s already well into her recovery and planning her next career moves.”
“When Covid hit, my eldest son Robbie moved to Japan, bought a motorhome and surfed. He spent six months in Hawaii, where he lived among the Indigenous community. Then he went to Central America and Costa Rica. Eventually, he found himself in New York, where he met the owner of the company he now works for, at a bitcoin conference!”
“His company just became the 3rd fastest ever to reach 300 million dollars in funding.”
“You never know where or when you’re going to find your fit. You just have to stay positive no matter what happens and keep moving.”
Paul’s advice to new runners is simple: “Make sure you have the right shoes. Then run easy. Don’t push yourself. Progress is literally one step at a time. 1000 hours to proficiency, 10,000 hours to greatness.”
Pen Run’s Annual New Year’s Resolution Run is around the corner and will take place at Crescent Park on January 1st, 2023. There are tons of ways to get involved, even if you don’t run. They need volunteers to cut oranges and bananas or make hot chocolate. There is even a prize for the most improved runner!
So join Pen Run to start 2023 on the right foot because, as Paul Williams and his team like to say: “We Fit You For Life!” ◆
Anita Huberman is the most impressive person I have ever interviewed. Her accomplishments inspired me more than the hundreds and hundreds of politicians, professionals and entertainers that I have spoken to. (Including the likes of David Suzuki and Tom Lavin of the...
When determining the value of real estate, there are 3 key approaches: Income Approach: How much rent can I generate from this property? Replacement Cost: How much would it cost to build this property today?Land Value: The value of the property to a developer who chose to tear down and start again.
As an agent for change, Len leads and advises for systemic transformation in universities across North America. He specializes in developing educational programs and services with decolonization and reconciliation as their core values. He comes to us with an open heart and open mind and hopes to be received in the same way.