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Running scales and running trails

Congratulations to these frosty fitness fanatics!

February 21, 2019 — 

Despite all of the broken legs they’ve incurred over the years, a group of four Desautels Faculty members competed in the Hypothermic Half Marathon on Sunday, February 17. Laura Loewen, Jacquie Dawson, Tori Sparks, and Gordon Fitzell, who flatly ignored the frigid February temperatures to complete the 21.1 kilometer run, were all smiles at the finish line.

The Hypothermic Half was part of 2019 Festival du Voyageur festivities. The looped race started in Fort Gibraltar, crossed the Esplanade Bridge, and zigzagged along the Red River before returning to Festival grounds. “I wasn’t wearing a mask, so about halfway across the bridge, I felt like my nose was going to fall off,” said Loewen. “But as soon as we started the route along the river, we were much more protected from the wind.”

The professors were inspired to run the race after founding the Desautels Run/Walk Club in 2018, which aims to promote wellness and balance in all areas of musicians’ lives.

“We have had an emphasis on health and wellness at the Desautels Faculty this year,” says Loewen, an associate professor of collaborative piano and a vocal coach. “I knew that there were a few people at the faculty who enjoyed running as much as I did, so I thought that it would be fun to start a club for students and faculty to run together.”

Desautels Faculty dean Ed Jurkowski, an avid walker, will be leading the Walk Club, which will walk the halls during the colder months, and will move outdoors in the spring.

Balancing the scales in music

Musicians have unique physical and mental challenges that accompany their academic disciplines. Core strength, breath control, stamina, and confidence in one’s abilities all play an extensive role in making music, so physical and mental wellness is essential for musicians.

“What we do is very physical, but musicians tend to have various imbalances of strength related to the specific muscle groups needed to play their instruments,” says Sparks, an instructor of percussion, and lead of the University of Manitoba Percussion Ensemble. “So working to maintain balance in your physical abilities can be very helpful to prevent injury. I know that I feel less sore from some of the physical parts of playing percussion when I take the time to take care of my body.”

“As a conductor, I am always very physically engaged in my work,” says Dawson, an associate professor of conducting and Director of Bands. “Running helps with heart rate, physical form, muscle strength, and, most importantly, mental energy.”

Creativity boosts

Gordon Fitzell, a professor of music composition, feels that the club has improved his music in other ways.

“I find that [it] enhances creativity and contributes to better overall work-life balance,” he says.

Loewen agrees. “Everyone in the group is positive and engaged and is passionate about their lives as musicians,” she says.  “I always leave our runs bursting with new ideas and excitement about new possibilities.”

Wellness on campus

The Desautels Faculty of Music has been sponsoring wellness workshops, which are open to all University of Manitoba students, and have featured a variety of physical and mental wellness activities, most recently salsa dancing lessons. The next workshop, hosted by University of Manitoba student health counselor Heather O’Neale, will focus on handling performance anxiety, and will be held on March 25 at 12:30pm in Eva Clare Hall.

Ready to start running?

If running more is one of your new year’s resolutions, join the Run/Walk Club as it trains for Race ONE of the Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC) Winnipeg Race Series, which will take place on April 14, 2019, and has 5K, 10K, and 21.1K distance options.

“We are not fast, but we are enthusiastic,” says Loewen. “We encourage anyone in the university community who wants to run or walk to join us!”

All faculty, staff, and students are welcome to join the group, which meets at the main entrance of the Desautels Faculty of Music (136 Dafoe Rd.) between 4:30pm and 4:45pm on Mondays and Thursdays, and returns by 5:30pm.



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