It’s spring of 2020. Race events like the Canada Army Run were tested, having to abandon years of tradition to embrace a new virtual format aimed to keep the running community alive and well. In a matter of a couple months, virtual races became the new trend. Mary Lou (Bolger) Trowell, a long-time supporter of Canada Army Run, anxiously awaited the news on the status of the 2020 Army Run so she could continue her tradition.
Now, with us only a month away from race day, Mary Lou has registered for Canada Army Run: Virtual and has found something to look forward to despite the uncertainty 2020 has brought us.
“Usually my husband, daughter, son-in-law and I go to Ottawa for the event. This year I decided to challenge my son and his family, my sister, brother-in-law, and my nephews to join us (located in Sudbury, Mississauga, Oakville, and Moncton),” says Trowell.
This digital shift has created a new, more national Army Run community. The event now welcomes not only new runners craving the freedom and escape running can provide, but also those who could not make it to Ottawa each September. Traditionally, Canada Army Run sees 64% of its participants from within a 40km radius – now 84% are participating from outside that local geography. Over 45% of this year’s virtual racers have not done the event in previous years.
While virtual has expanded our reach, it has also pushed us to recreate the same unique experiences virtually. One of the features we are thrilled to have is Remembrance Row, presented in partnership with the Royal Canadian Legion – a feature that showcases photographs of veterans who have passed as a way to honour the loved ones that served.
“As it’s the 75th anniversary commemorating the end of the war, I decided to go bigger and challenge my cousins and their families all across Canada to join us. My grandparents had four children enlist in the war, two in the army and two in the air force. This year, we are running/walking to honour all four of them,” continues Trowell.
Challenging her family across Canada is a true depiction of the family friendly nature the Canada Army Run encourages. It’s a great way to get active in support of our military families.
Mary Lou’s Team Bolger hopes to have a good sized team and aims to challenge those who can’t participate to donate to Soldier On and Support our Troops fund. To honour their grandparents’ four children, they are even making race bibs to send to all of their team members with the pictures of them on it.
“Hopefully next year some of my extended family will join us in Ottawa at the finish line. Of all the events my husband and I have done over the years, Canada Army Run is the top,” says Mary Lou.
As we continue to focus on our virtual run, we look forward to the day where we can provide our Canada Army Run family that sense of normalcy they’ve grown accustomed to.
This current situation has allowed us to prioritize and identify what truly matters to us.
It’s our time to rebrand the running industry as we reset.
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