Jack and his girlfriend Emma Stevens ran the half marathon this past weekend.

WOLFVILLE, N.S. – By John DeCoste ’77 – On Oct. 10, Flaman, a Saskatchewan native, fourth-year Acadia business student and three-year hockey Axemen veteran, ran the half marathon as part of the 29thย annual Valley Harvest Marathon.

Despite playing a pair of Axemen hockey games on Friday (in Wolfville) and Saturday (in Antigonish), the 24-year-old Flaman completed the 21.1-kilometre distance in around one hour and 51 minutes.

He took on the challenge as a way of honoring his older brother Mike, diagnosed a year ago with multiple sclerosis (MS), and as a means of raising funds and awareness for MS research.

“I’ve been training for it all summer,” Flaman said in an Oct. 6 interview. He admittedly had not run anything close to a 21-kilometre distance before. “Never,” he said. “It’s something new for me.”

Asked the longest distance he had run at one time, Flaman said that as part of his pre-race training, “I’ve gotten up to around 16 kilometres.” He was confident he would complete the half marathon distance on Oct. 10, adding, “it’s going to be fun. I’m not going to quit now.”

By taking on this challenge, he said, “I am looking to show that regular exercise and being outside doing things is good for you and will likely prolong your life.”

Flaman credited his girlfriend Emma Stevens for playing a big part in his pre-race training and preparation. “One day, she suggested we go running together,” he said โ€“ and it became a regular occurrence. Stevens agreed to run part of the half marathon with Flaman. “We’ll run it together.”

His mother Tricia has also been a huge support, especially with his fundraising. “She’s coming out here for the weekend,” Flaman said of his mom. “She hasn’t been here in a year-and-a-half. It’s pretty exciting. She’ll not only get to see me run, but also get to see me play two hockey games.”

In a follow-up email Oct. 11, Flaman described the race as “really fun, actually. The support from all the people on the side of the track really keeps you going.”

He was pleased with his race result, particularly for his first time running the distance. He and Stevens “ran the first half together, and she helped me get through the early grind.” Overall, he “managed to stick to my game plan of taking it easy off the start and getting faster as it went on.”

Flaman’s other goal, raising funds for and awareness of MS, also went well, he said. When we spoke Oct. 6, he had managed to raise around $7,500 toward his ultimate goal of $10,000.

He said Oct. 11, “I managed to surpass my goal of $10,000 before the race started, so I had some extra motivation. I can’t thank enough all the people who supported me and made donations,” he said.

“It started off slow,” he said of the fundraising, “because I didn’t tell a lot of people about it at first. Since I’ve put it out there, the support has been great.”

Flaman said and his brother have always been close. “Mike is three and a half years older than me. Over the past five or six years, we’ve gotten closer than we were when we were younger.”

They have become closer still since Mike’s diagnosis, and despite the distance between Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, Jack has been there for Mike as much as he can.

After playing hockey at the recreational level, Mike Flaman has taken over helping with the operation of the family dairy farm. “He’s looking to carry on the family business.”

Jack, on the other hand, played four years with a series of junior and major junior hockey teams in western Canada before being recruited to Acadia in the fall of 2018. He played two seasons with the Axemen before he and his teammates had to take last season off due to Covid-19.

He is looking forward to playing a full season in 2021-2022, and also that Acadia is scheduled to host the 2022 University Cup in Halifax next March. “Our goal is to earn our way there, not just be there.”

As for MS, asked if there might be a chance that he might be diagnosed someday, Flaman replied, “with MS, you never really know. That’s the scary part.” His brother, he pointed out, is only 27. “He’s on an experimental medicine program through Health Canada, which is making a big difference for him.”