Yukon's lone mp to run for diabetes

When Ryan Leef last ran the Royal Victoria Marathon in 2001, he was running for himself - and he did pretty well, finishing in second place overall, his time being two hours and 31 minutes.

When Leef returns to Victoria on Sunday, he'll run the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon for others. Leef, 38, is now a Conservative MP and the lone federal representative for Yukon.

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He'll be raising funds and awareness for the Canadian Diabetes Association, which provides education and support for those afflicted and research into finding a cure.

While Leef is not diabetic, he has seen the toll the disease has taken on people in towns across Yukon Territory.

"I looked for a particular issue in the Yukon that could benefit from the inspiration of running, and diabetes really hits the northern part of our country hard," said Leef on Friday from Ottawa.

"We suffer rates three to four times higher than the rest of the Canadian population," said Leef, a Yukon resident for 30 years.

"Our aboriginal population, which makes up 25 per cent of the Yukon, really gets hit with that."

Twenty-one per cent of northerners over 64 have diabetes, he said - noting that the number will likely increase as the population ages.

While Leef hasn't been touched personally by diabetes, he feels that supporting the cause is one way of supporting the many people who suffer from it.

"It can help to renew their energy in believing that the fight they're fighting is worth it, that the energy and effort they put into it is worth it," he said.

The association "is just thrilled" that Leef is supporting their fight against diabetes, said Julie Holder, CDA regional director for Vancouver Island, B.C.

North and Interior.

"With nine million people in Canada dealing with diabetes or pre-diabetes, we desperately need champions like Mr. Leef to get the message out," Holder said.

"He is demonstrating how even someone with a very busy and stressful job can take time to take make their health a priority."

Joining Leef from Ottawa in the race will be MP and Opposition House leader Nathan Cullen, who is raising money for the Victoria Women's Transition House, a charity that offers emergency shelter and support services to women and children escaping abuse.


? Marathon, 8: 45 a.m.; early start, 6: 30 a.m.; wheelchairs and visually impaired, 8: 40 p.m.

? Half-marathon: 7: 30 a.m.; wheelchairs and visually impaired, 7: 25 a.m.

? 8K road race: 7: 15 a.m.; wheelchairs and visually impaired, 7: 10 a.m.

? Thrifty Foods Kids Fun Run, 10: 15 a.m.



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