An animal native to sub-Saharan Africa could be seen loping along the trails and roads of Salmon Arm on Dec. 4, delighting passersby.
The explanation? For her 40th birthday, resident Patti Bliss decided to do a 40-kilometre run and, just for fun, she would do it in a giraffe onesie her adopted mother-in-law had given her for Christmas a few years earlier.
Bliss is one of the leaders of Kintec’s running groups and has been running more than ever during the pandemic.
“I’ve been talking about it for a while because I’ve always been a runner,” she said of the lengthy birthday route.
Then she saw a post on social media of people running around in inflatable unicorn suits.
“This is what we should do for my birthday,” she said, and put the word out to her running group about joining her. However, as COVID-19 restrictions tightened, the plan was modified. Just a couple of people joined in for part of the run or cheered her on.
Bliss’s 12-year-old daughter Andrea was one, accompanying the happy giraffe for the last half of the route sporting a unicorn onesie.
Bliss ran through the industrial park, down 30th to North Broadview, through Raven and along the foreshore trail, and through town at the end.
Although she considered running down the highway, she thought, ‘why not go through town?’ After all, she was a giraffe with a tail.
“A lot of people have been down during COVID and running has kept me positive and feeling good. I thought running with my giraffe outfit on, I would help encourage others. Even if they didn’t want to get out and run, at least they had a laugh that day.”
She was right – people gave her smiles or positive remarks as she ran by. One woman told her, “You made my day.”
Bliss has run one marathon but that was in Los Angeles in 2005 before she had three kids. A marathon is 42 kilometres.
“It was easier when I was 15 years younger,” she laughed.
But the giraffe suit wasn’t a hindrance. In fact, “it was quite comfortable.”
Also making the run special was her dad driving around to check points to greet her as she ran by, “just like back in the day.”
Bliss said her daughter has since told her she might like to run 13 kilometres on her 13th birthday.
“It might become a family tradition,” she smiled.