A Windsor Park man is lacing up his running shoes and taking to the streets to make life a little brighter for those stuck at home during the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Every afternoon for the past two weeks Noel Beckel has donned a different costume for his daily jog through the Winnipeg neighbourhood, sharing a laugh with everyone he passes.
The daily spectacle has become a must-watch event for many living along his route.
“I’ve had people come out with their kids and they just stand there and watch me go by,” says the 50-year-old father, who started running three years ago, but only recently started adding costumes to his running gear.
“They wave, they smile, and I give a wave and crack a joke of some sort and I’ll keep going.
“I can run by and make people forget their problems — even for just five minutes — that’s five minutes where somebody is smiling … you can’t put a price tag on that.”
Beckel started the now-daily routine Good Friday on a whim — dressing up in a full cow outfit for his five-kilometre jaunt — after accepting a bit of a dare from his mom.
The professional musician — stuck at home with shows cancelled due to COVID-19 — enjoyed himself and decided he’d keep it up for the rest of the weekend “to give everyone a bit of a chuckle.”
But those plans changed when he noticed he was getting a following on a community Facebook page.
“People were all of a sudden talking about this mystery runner,” he laughs.
Since then his outfits have included a pirate, Superman, a Winnipeg Blue Bomber fan (of course), Thing 2 from Dr. Seuss fame, and a french maid — complete with a frilly skirt and pink wig.
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“It’s quite entertaining, we enjoy it because we don’t know what he’s going to be wearing from day to day,” said neighbour Arlene Mousseau, who waits to cheer on Beckel from her doorstep every afternoon.
“I have something to look forward to now, instead of being on my laptop eight hours a day with nowhere to go.
“There’s hope, it’s wonderful, I love that I know that I have something to look forward to every day at two o’clock.”
And Beckel has no plans on slowing down.
He’s now posting the route online before his run so neighbours can watch out for him and tells Global News he’s going to keep up the routine — with a new costume every day — until the public health orders keeping Winnipeggers indoors are lifted.
Then he’s planning one last victory lap around the neighbourhood.
“When this is done — and we get the okay — I’m going to do one more run and I am going to hug every single last person on that route that has come out to see me,” he said.
“If I can make people smile, that’s what we need right now — we just need to smile.”
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
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