in any field, be it athletic, academic or musical,
Doubling down by enjoying
success in any two of those three is a true testament
to a passion and commitment level that is difficult
native Shawn Brady is an anomaly, having conquered,
to a great extent, the entire troika of his interest,
and subsequently adding all that comes with the start
of a busy family to the mix in more recent years.
If one did not know better,
it could be assumed that the senior clinical program
director at Unity Health in Toronto had somehow determined
the magical formula for squeezing 30 hours of activity
into a 24-hour day.
While the success that
Brady has seen through music, both with his U2 tribute
show, Elevation, as well as his work as an original
artist, has garnered attention locally, the extent
of his abilities as a runner may have flown a little
under the radar.
We are, after all, talking
about a man who in 2002 was ranked as the third fastest
marathoner in the country. In some ways, much of the
foundation for the incredible journey he has taken
in the past three decades or so can be attributed
to his time spent at Lasalle Secondary School.
“There was a really
strong culture at Lasalle at that time, within the
running group, of academic excellence,” said
Brady, who benefitted greatly both from the coaching
of Peter Hocking, as well as the mentoring of a group
of senior athletes that included current Track North
coach Darren Jermyn.
“It was such a
positive experience, both academically and athletically,
in high school.”
It wasn’t long
before music completed the triumvirate.
Having captured both
the 800-metre and 1500-metre SDSSAA and NOSSA titles,
Brady attended the 1993 OFSAA championship in Oshawa,
finishing 10th in the province, just missing a berth
in the final of eight runners.
got in the car and bee-lined it from Oshawa to Sudbury,
getting back in time to make sound check,” Brady
recalled, as his band, Valours Minion, earned bragging
rights at a Battle of the Bands for a second straight
year that same evening.
“Had I made the
final, I would have definitely missed sound check,
and it would have been a really tight window to even
make it on stage on time. The discipline required
for the time management I needed were lessons learned
in training for track.”
Over the course of the
next 10 to 15 years, Brady compiled a resume that
would make any distance runner proud, placing third
in the Canadian Running Series in 2001, crossing the
line as the third-fastest Canadian at the 2002 Chicago
Marathon, and finishing 10th in a field of 25,000
runners at the Honolulu Marathon in 2006.
All the while, excitement
was building with the Elevation project, as Brady
and company found themselves travelling to 14 countries,
performing the music of the iconic Irish band.
“The music was
starting to take off for me, to a large extent, creating
some great opportunities to perform around the world,”
he noted. “The demand for our show in 2006 was
quite high, and I was working in health care and I
was running. I completed the Honolulu Marathon, and
then running took a back seat.”
Brady confessed there
has never been a conscious decision to rank the pursuits
that consumed much of his life. The time allotted
to each has often emerged organically, simply a product
of his environment as he continues to draw the max
from each and every day on Earth.
“It was never a
deliberate decision to focus on one area over the
other,” said Brady. “Life events and opportunities
that arose from those life events created the backdrop
for the ebb and flow.”
If there is a downside
to this type of scenario, typically, it lies in the
inevitable what-ifs that creep into the discussion
when folks ponder the fact that by necessity, time
spent on a particular endeavour comes at the expense
of being able to slot that same sequence of time towards
another equally important undertaking.
at peace with that part, because it has evolved over
time based on wherever my life starts to move towards,”
said Brady. “Even though I’ve had pretty
decent success academically, musically and athletically,
I do wonder, a bit, what if I had been all in. I don’t
have any regrets with the running piece, because I
do feel at one point, I was all in.
“In that 2002 period,
I was running 160 km a week, I was training with some
really fantastic runners at the University of Toronto.
I’m pretty sure I got about as fast as I physically
could, just based on genetics and other things.
“Music is maybe
the one area where I do reflect. There is a little
bit of a hole, for me, with regard to my success as
an original artist and songwriter. What if I had immersed
myself in writing and performing my own music —
what would have happened? In academics and athletics,
there is more predictability, in terms of success
and the hours and dedication that one puts in.
“With music, there
is less of a locus of control over what the outcome
might be. Often, you need that combination of incredibly
hard work and the incredible amount of time, but by
the same token, you need to have some form of luck.
success from music, performing covers, and I’ve
been able to perform in some really big shows —
and I’m very happy with that.”
Part of this inner peace
comes from the very manner in which Brady views success,
an approach that is far less based on tangible accomplishments,
but rather the relationships that are developed in
the search of same.
“I think the common
thread with all three areas, for me, is likely the
human connections that you make along the way,”
he said. “In that sense, it makes it hard for
me to describe which area I am most proud of, because
I’ve had the great opportunity to have met wonderful
people in all three aspects of my life.
“I have a passion
for academics, athletics and music. I’m very
driven, and have a love for all of those things.”
Randy Pascal is That Sudbury Sports
Guy. His columns run regularly in The Sudbury Star.