Training Running for a reason

Running for a reason


We run to feel free, burn stress, eliminate waistlines. But in droves, we’re also hitting the streets to raise money for a worthy cause. Herewith, the first annual iRun salute to the charity racers, those who know that we can only really achieve a personal best when the long run is about benefitting more than ourselves.

By Anna Lee Boschetto and Megan Black

Participants at Red Bull’s Wings for Life World Run this May in Niagara Falls helped raise a global $4.2 million Euros for spinal cord research. All of the money raised was donated to the Spinal Cord Research Foundation.

“Aim for the moon 
and pick up a few stars along the way.”
Heart disease only furthered Wes Harding’s commitment to Team Hoyt

The Cause: Team Hoyt Canada has brought the inspirational running legacy of father Dick and his son Rick Hoyt to Canada. Having competed in over 1,100 running events, this father-son duo have changed the face of sport, creating new opportunities for individuals with disabilities to compete in both running and triathlon races. With the goal of ensuring that no person is ever left on the sidelines, Team Hoyt pairs athletes of differing abilities in endurance events. To Team Hoyt, whether you’re a novice runner or sub three-hour marathoner, they embrace and celebrate anyone and everyone who is willing to try. All athletic riders experience the whole package, from picking up their bib number to crossing the finish line together to receiving a medal. Team Hoyt is the ultimate celebration of community and teamwork.
The Runner: From “couch potato” to Ironman in four years, Wes Harding lives by the mantra “anything is possible.” After watching the Hoyt’s Ironman documentary, 40-year-old Harding embarked on a lifelong dream of running the Boston Marathon. Two years into his journey, after suffering a heart attack at the finish line of the YMCA 10K Bridge Run, Harding discovered that he was born with heart valve disease. He continued to run over time to find that the effects of his valve disease have begun to reverse. Today, Wes is the President of Team Hoyt Canada and has run in Boston with the Hoyts for the past five years. “Gather up that courage to make your first step,” he says, “because there is never that perfect moment to begin.”


Sarah Jamieson, founder of Moveolution, who runs to bring awareness to mental health, at-risk youth, girl’s leadership and first responder health/PTSD. When she started 10 years ago, she wanted to raise 
$1 million. Today, with the support of CARE Canada, Jamieson has surpassed $2 million in her charity runs (and accumulated enough miles with her team to circle the globe—twice!). “It all started with a CARE Canada walk called ‘Walk In Her Shoes,’ then a memorial run for my mom, supporting mental health and domestic violence and grew from there,” Jamieson says. “I’m a middle of the pack runner and I’m cool with that. Daily activity, technology and charitable giving are the next wave of giving back.”

Sky’s the Limit
Robyn Baldwin approaches her multiple sclerosis like anything 
she encounters on a race track—
as another obstacle to overcome. Xman race

Robyn Baldwin is fit, fast and ferocious. When she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) last December, it was Baldwin’s “no excuses” attitude combined with her fighting spirit as an obstacle course racer that made all the difference. “My trainer and I both looked at MS as another obstacle to get over,” explains Baldwin, adding that overall, her diagnosis has helped her become a better athlete, by being increasingly in tune with and aware of her body.

On Being Aware: Having connected with marathon and ultra runners diagnosed with MS, Baldwin believes that raising awareness is as important as fundraising. “When someone as healthy as me can have MS, people begin to realize that it can really happen to anyone,” says Baldwin, adding that many people aren’t aware that more Canadians are diagnosed with MS than anywhere else in the world.

Personal Impact: With Race for the Cure, Baldwin and her Alpha Obstacle Training crew are aiming to raise $10,000 for the MS Society. Along with their race fee, runners are asked to donate $25, the cost of a few coffees, for a week, making it a reasonable amount that will add up.  When she was first diagnosed, Baldwin says the MS Society was an incredible source of information, one that she continues to rely on today for support.

Tackling the Big C
Colleen Curtis enlists family and friends in her work with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and Run for the Cure .

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, Colleen Curtis wanted to do something that would give her a positive focus as she went through her treatment. In her first year, she managed to rally family and friends and registered her Run for the Cure team of some 50 runners and walkers. “Going through treatment I felt out of control, and isolated,” she explains, “but having this team made me feel connected to my own life with something that was really important and empowering.”

WHAT IT MEANS: As a patient, Curtis has witnessed the difference that every dollar makes. It’s a difference that she says goes beyond important medical research and to the heart of personalized treatment. “Over the past six years, I’ve seen changes in support offered to the whole family, in dealing with the psychological aspects of women with breast cancer and taking more of a team approach to treatment.”

Hero’s Journey
Colin Arnott runs for the Heart and Stroke Foundation Camp BUCKO (Burn Camp for Kids in Ontario) and 
to pay homage to his brother Ken.
When Colin Arnott’s brother Ken passed away suddenly as the result of a stroke, the Pickering firefighter knew he wanted to do something in his brother’s memory. An accomplished trail runner whose record for the Seaton Soaker 50 kilometre distance still holds, a race was obviously going to be a special tribute to a runner’s memory.

BEST PART: “For me, it’s giving back to the medical profession and the community,” explains Arnott. As a firefighter, he doesn’t see burn victims after a rescue. Designating Camp BUCKO as one of the charities of choice offers emergency workers (including Arnott) the chance to have an additional impact in the lives of these children.

 REMEMBERING KEN: Having run ultra marathons including 100-mile events together, Arnott continues to honour and pay tribute to his brother. In May, Arnott ran the 100-mile distance at the Sulfur Springs Trail Race in Burlington, Ontario wearing the bib his brother had worn the last time he ran the event.


  1. I started to run in 2012,at age 50 for a reason; to support my Mom in her fight against breast cancer. Since then I continue to run to raise awareness…but now for mental health. I have worked in the field as a RN since 1985, and my family has and continues to be profoundly impacted by bipolar disorder in all its incarnations. It keeps me motivated, and inspired, despite being plagued by injury the past 8 months. ..and my Mom is 5 years cancer free this year!

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