In Memory of John Forzani

I realize that many of the visitors I get to may not know who John Forzani is because I get visitors from all over the world but there are also many of you who will know of him or perhaps have met him.

On Thursday October 30, 2014 John passed away at the young age of 67.

John was a professional football player in Calgary, Alberta and was a lineman for the Stampeders for six years.

After his pro career he started up a business with his brothers Tom and Joe.

I met John at the very beginning of my amateur running career in 1977.

I needed a pair of running shoes for my very first race and had no idea what kind to get or what to look for in a running shoe as I was new to the whole idea of running.

I had noticed this little “hole-in-the-wall” running shoe store close to Western Canada High School near where I lived in Mission.

So I walked in and there was John. He was the boss, the shoe expert, and the cashier all rolled into one. As a matter of fact, he was the only one there.

I told him I was going to enter this road race and I need a pair of running shoes. He disappeared for a minute and came back with the gaudiest running shoes I had ever seen. They were bright yellow with black racing stripes.

But hey! what did I know….he was the expert.

Anyway, he fit those shoes on me and I will never forget what he said.

“Now you don’t want to tie these shoes so tight your nose will bleed!”

It seemed like pretty good advice so I bought those bright yellow running shoes from John.

I ran my first 10k race, my first 10-mile race, and my first marathon in those Onitsuka Tigers.

Really, that’s what they were called.

It was the beginning of my amateur endurance career that spanned over 35 years and John had a big part in it.

Pretty much every time I tied my running shoes for a race over the years I fondly remembered what John had said that day and it always made me smile to myself.

I ran in my first Forzani’s Mother’s Day 10k race on Sunday May 14, 1978 and there were just over 300 entries. I would go on to run in about 20 Forzani Mother’s Day Races over the years.

On Mother’s Day 2014 they were going after a record 16,000 entries for the Mother’s Day Run and Walk.

They were on track to raise almost $900,000 for the neonatal intensive care units at four city hospitals through the Calgary Health Trust.

John’s hole-in-the-wall running shoe store would morph into Forzani’s Group that would eventually be sold to Canadian tire for $771 million.

John was a star pro athlete, an astute businessman, a Philanthropist, a family man, and just a really great guy who made a positive impression on everyone he met.

I will be forever grateful that I made the decision to walk into his small shoe store that day and was able to spend that special moment with him.

Life is made up of a myriad of special moments that give substance to a person’s life and that is one moment I will never forget.

Thanks John.

Rest in Peace.

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About Ray

Ray hasn’t stopped since his first Ironman in Kona, 1984. He has since run 14 more Ironman races, authored 5 Triathlon books, and is now bringing together a passionate community of triathletes. Contact Ray at

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