'Amy was running with us': Footprints appear next to Edmonton man tackling 10K for late wife
A photo of Phil Alain running a race in Jasper, Alta., last weekend in honour of his wife, who passed away from cancer in February, is tugging on the heartstrings of a lot of people.
Amy Alain died Feb. 22 from lung cancer. The mother of two was a marathon runner, had never smoked and was diagnosed last summer. She was just 38.
On April 13, Phil decided to run the last race Amy ran.
“I always thought if I was going to do a race, it was going to be the one she could barely finish,” Phil said. “She thought she had a cold but… we found out a few weeks later, it was much worse than a cold; it was lung cancer.”
WATCH (Oct. 11, 2018): Lung cancer can affect the young and healthy
Phil is quick to admit he never understood running, nor did it come easily for him. He and his kids were much more comfortable cheering Amy on from the sidelines, which they did often.
“By doing that race, it was really hard because I’m not a runner. It’s amazing what you can do when you’re inspired,” he said.
Their friend and coach Janelle ran alongside him, but the pair wasn’t alone.
While looking through photos of the race, Phil noticed a set of footprints next to him.
“I zoomed in and I go: ‘What’s that beside us? That’s not footprints, is it?’ It was a completely dry day,” he said.
“Does it matter what it is? To me, it looks like Amy was running with us. I felt that the whole way.”
Phil Alain and his friend/coach Janelle run a 10-kilometre race in Jasper on April 13, 2019.Credit: Facebook/Phil Alain
Crossing the finish line was an emotional moment.
“Both of us were in tears, along with a few other people,” Phil said. “You carry a lot with you. I just know how proud she would have been.
“To think that could be her was pretty special.”
Phil loves the photo. A lot of other people do, too. He shared it on Facebook and, understandably, was flooded with comments.
“Maybe she’s not here right now but she’s still inspiring me, and more importantly, my kids were shocked I ran 10K,” he said with a smile.
Phil’s young son Christian was having a hard time ahead of the race. He didn’t want his dad to leave his side to run.
“But when I finished the race, he was there smiling and laughing. He was so impressed. ‘Dad, you ran 10K! You ran 10K!'” Phil said.
“To have my kids realize that anything is possible — if their Clydesdale of a dad can run 10K then anything can happen — to watch their faces when I crossed the finished line was something I know Amy would have been really proud of.”
Amy continues to inspire and make a difference. Before she died, she started the Lunges for Lung Cancer campaign — 58 lunges per day to honour the 58 people killed by the disease every day.
Lunges for Lung Cancer has spread from Alberta across Canada, with friends and family posting their videos on social media to spread the word and raise awareness. They call themselves Amy’s Army.
“She’s fighting for her life, literally, and she’s wanting to help other people, and she’s wanting to help our kids,” Phil said.
Christian and Adelaine are constantly reminded of Amy, too. Phil says they notice bright flashes of light in family photos and believe it’s their mom.
“Whenever we take pictures, she always shows up,” Christian said.
“In one picture that he showed us, there were footprints,” Adelaine added. “I don’t know, but I think they were my mom’s.”
—With files from Su-Ling Goh