It was 1959 when Brian Richard was invited by a schoolmate to run a 1-mile race after school, in Chipman.
It was Richard’s first race, and it hooked him on the sport of running. Generations of runners in New Brunswick have been benefiting ever since, and last night (Nov 16,2020) they showed their appreciation by inducting the long-time leader of running in Miramichi into the Run New Brunswick Hall of Fame.
“I fell in love with running,” he said, recalling that after-school race. “I just love it. Don’t we all?”
Richard ran that first 1-miler in 5:10 and had lowered that time to 4:40 by the time he reached the age of 18. At 45, he was still running a mile in five minutes and running the 5K at 17:40. His fastest half marathon was a 1:22:18 in, where he beat the legendary George Gallant by one second.
All of these accomplishments and more were revealed by Sylvio Bourque, who had the honour of inducting Richard as a builder at his induction in Beresford. He discussed how Richard organized (and won) the first race of the Miramichi River Runners in 1984, and continues to be involved with the club’s annual race series, which continues to go strong, 35 years later with their 700 race slated for July 19, 2020.
He went on to become involved in Run New Brunswick, in late 1970 as a statistician for the Super Series races which continued to 1984.
He returned to the RunNB executive for 10 years serving as president for three years, he still remains on the executive of RunNB today in 2020.
Brian’s volunteering didn’t stop with running as he also served as president of the New Brunswick Senior Baseball League, for a number of years and is the league's statistician for over 31 years and continues into 2020. He was inducted into the Miramichi Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.
Bourque also passed along messages from others who have been impacted by Richard over the years, including current and future Hall of Famers. Dr.Paula Keating described him as her “biggest supporter,” and Laura Dickinson said, “He inspires me so much.” Scott Hare said, “Brian saw potential in me and encouraged me to develop it. I owe him so much.”
Richard took all of the accolades with the humble nature that he is known for.
“I’m going to go outside right after this banquet and see if I can walk on water,” he joked.
Richard, who will turn 75 in April 2020 (“Think of me as 23.9 Celcius.”) thanked all of his family and friends for their support, including his wife of 51 years, Vicky, who he surprised with a bouquet of flowers.
He spent most of his speech drawing laughs from the large audience in attendance; talking about the changes the sport has seen over the past six decades that he has been involved with it. He also told some hilarious running stories, including the cross-country race in Rothesay during which he almost drowned in a mud puddle. In another cross-country race, the woman running in front of Richard tripped over a downed tree and hurt her ankle. He jumped over the tree, jumped over her, and kept going.
“Don’t worry, I’ll call you an ambulance,” he shouted back to her.
As the crowd in attendance rose to its feet to cheer Richard’s induction, Bourque did his best to put the moment into words.
“From all of us, a huge thank you, Brian,” he said. “We appreciate everything you have done so far for us.”