New journeys for local runners


ARDNESS — Three members of a running family in East Pictou took time over the holidays to ponder how their years of running have informed their professional callings.

Zack MacDonald is pursuing a medical degree at the University of Ottawa, while his twin siblings — Mitchell and Heidi — have followed other paths. Heidi is studying to become an eye doctor, while Mitchell is working at the Irving shipyard in Halifax.

All three attended St. Francis Xavier University before entering new phases of their life journey.

Mitchell has been working at Irving Shipbuilding for six months. He graduated with a business degree last May and was hired at the shipyard in July. Of the three, Mitchell is most often able to return home.

“I usually get home a couple of times a month,” he said.

Heidi earned a science degree in human kinetics from St. FX last May and entered the New England College of Optometry in Boston last fall. She said she knew she wanted to be an eye doctor from the moment she needed glasses in her mid-teens and her resolve to study optometry was strengthened by job shadowing for several years at a firm in Antigonish.

All three have a desire to live and work in Nova Scotia, if not Pictou County, and Heidi envisions joining or establishing a practice in the province after she completes the four-year course in 2021.

“I would like to come back — that’s the plan,” she said.

Zack is in his fourth year of medical school and will graduate next May. The time is coming for him to consider where he may practise medicine.

“I could be anywhere,” he said.

The MacDonalds enjoy a customary Christmas walk and run down the McGee Road to Lismore and back up the New Road and home. This Christmas it was different. With the winter storm that struck the area, the wind was so strong that they could hardly get home.

They do what they can to accumulate kilometres for the annual Lismore fitness challenge, and this is one way for them to do so together.

Mitch plays basketball in Halifax and gets on a treadmill on other days.

All three also feel sports have helped them as they’ve achieved adulthood and determined their professional careers.

“I think it was extremely important,” Mitchell said of his athletic activities. “As kids our parents put us into sports we showed an interest in — running, basketball and baseball. It was something to motivate me and work with others in a team atmosphere.”

Zack said the self-improvement built into running was important for him, while Heidi cited how all the activity forces young people to organize their lives better.

“Sports helped me with time management,” Heidi said. “It gave me something to motivate me to get my school work done before the weekend.”

From left: Zack MacDonald and his twin siblings Heidi and Mitchell walk up the driveway that ends a traditional Christmastime walk for them around their home in Ardness. (Goodwin photo)

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