During this time of physical distancing, Canada Moves encourages everyone to move, connect and raise money and awareness for mental health.
Hey. How are you doing out there? Running solo, staying safe. I get it. Getting out to get the miles in can sometimes be difficult—but it helps. And I don’t know about you, but lately, when I get out I’ve been seeing some new runners out there. I suppose they’ve caught on that getting out and moving your body is an effective way to deal with stress and anxiety.
It’s been weeks since most of us have laced up with our friends because of the situation in the world right now. If you’re like me, you miss the weekly group run and the coffee afterwards. Or maybe you miss pinning on a bib for your goal race of the summer.
Well, Global Running Day is coming up and Canada Running Series has come up with a way for everyone to take part on the first Wednesday in June. CRS reached out to race directors and other leaders in the running community from coast to coast to create Canada Moves. It’s meant to mark the day by getting out and being active, and connecting with others online to talk about the sport.
It is also a chance to support the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). The CMHA provides advocacy, programs and resources in over 330 communities nation-wide. Their services help those experiencing mental health problems and illnesses and support recovery and resilience, which is especially vital during this time.
You can sign up for Canada Moves online for free RIGHT HERE and pledge how far you intend to run. On Wednesday June 3rd, get out and run, walk or bike your distance, while respecting the social distancing rules of where you live.
At noon local time, tune into Facebook Live to hear what others in your community have to say about what running means to them. Already, around the country, folks are chipping in.
In Halifax, Sherri Robbins is the executive director of the Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon. She is organizing a Facebook Live with guests from Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and New Brunswick for Global Running Day. About this time of year, Robbins and her team would be reflecting on their event usually held over Victoria Day Weekend.
“In any given year, we would welcome more than 10,000 participants. We would host 7 events over 2 days,” Robbins says. This year close to 3,000 registered for a virtual race and shared it on social media. Sherri says her running community prides itself on being inclusive to all ages and abilities.
Runners in Quebec have had 4 out of 5 of their biggest events cancelled. There is still hope that the Quebec City Marathon will go ahead on October 4th. In the meantime, Gestev executive producer Marianne Pelchat is planning a Facebook Live for that province. In the past months her team has done plenty to connect with others including podcasts about nutrition and training, and a Strava Challenge.
“We know our running community is missing so much from the in person events so this is a great alternative,” Pelchat says. “Canada Moves is proof that we can come up with new ways to do things.”
Kate Van Buskirk and Steve Fleck will host the Facebook Live event for Ontarians. The pair will host two chats; one with Olympians turned MPs Adam Van Koeverden and Peter Fonseca, and the other with Reid Coolsaet, Krista Duchene, Dylan Wykes, Lindsay Tessier and Tristan Woodfine. There will also be videos submitted by run crews in the region.
This time of year, people in Manitoba would usually be counting down to the 42nd annual Manitoba Marathon that was planned for Father’s Day. Instead it has been postponed until the fall. Race weekend in Winnipeg typically hosts about 11,000 runners. Executive director Rachel Munday tells me that heartache isn’t new for people hoping to race.
“Winnipeg had a huge snowstorm in early October last year which resulted in a state of emergency and many fall races being cancelled. So Winnipeggers have not been able to run an actual event in almost a year!” Munday says.
However there is an upside for Manitobans. Limited gatherings are now permitted, meaning that people are able to run in small groups. Manitoba’s programming for Global Running Day will be hosted by Running Room founder John Stanton. It will feature content from local run crews and athletes including Jennifer Jones and Sammi Jo Small.
Kirsten Fleming is the executive director of the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon. She describes her team as “small but mighty,” putting on 7 events a year.
“We have gone virtual and are enjoying the experience of reinventing the season,” Fleming says. Their first virtual race, the Flapjack 15K sold out in 3 days.
For Canada Moves, Fleming has pledged to run 12 kilometres before hosting the noontime broadcast in Alberta. It will include sprinter Sam Effah, Kip Kangogo, Tokyo 2021-bound Trevor Hofbauer, and 3,000m record holder Jess O’Connell. It will also include endurance athlete Ailsa MacDonald, who plans to start her day with a 50 kilometre run. And country music fans are in for a treat. They’ll get to hear from Paul Brandt on why he runs. The singer was signed up for the Calgary Marathon this year.
Lynn Kanuka has seen the running community in the greater Vancouver area blossom over the past several years. She is the elite athlete program coordinator for Vancouver Marathon and she has created a presentation of videos from people across B.C. about what running means to them.
The B.C. portion of programming will have panels and chats on Facebook Live. One panel will feature 10,000m champion Natasha Wodak, Olympic race walker Evan Dunfee and distance runner Rob Watson.
The day will also include a chat about mental health with Sue Griffin, the director of philanthropy with the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Kanuka is looking forward to this edition of Global Running Day. “It’s a testimony of race directors and others in the running community working together in a vision to connect the country.” Kanuka says.
“We will continue to be creative. And we will carry on.”
To sign up for Canada Moves, please click here.