Virtual Canada Army Run goes national continuing tradition of creating community
The virtual edition of the Army Run set for Sept. 12 to 20
Over the last few years, Canada Army Run has grown to become one of the most popular running races in the country. It’s an opportunity for more than 10,000 people to show support for the Canadian Armed Forces in a genuinely positive and rewarding environment.
Although the race has shifted to a virtual format, participants can still show their support across the country.
The virtual edition of the Army Run will be held Sept. 12 to 20.
The same race disciplines will be offered — 5K, 10K, 15K, 21.1K, and 26.1K. Each distance comes with a unique clothing item or two including T-shirts, hats, and long sleeves as well as SWAG kits with finisher’s certificates, challenge coins, and products from Xact Nutrition and Nuun Hydration.
“It’s the first time that we've gone virtual and for the first time we’ve gone national, which we think people will appreciate,” says Major Lesley Quinlan, Canada Army Run Race Director. “Previously, you had to come to Ottawa if you wanted to participate so we're really hoping that people will engage across the country.”
Canada Army Run raises funds for two important organizations: Soldier On and Support Our Troops. And, despite a pandemic that has shut down every race from coast to coast to coast, the need still very much exists. As such, this virtual run is vital.
“It’s the same opportunity for people to show their support to both Canadian Forces members and the organizations that we support,” says Quinlan. “So we're hoping that people get on board with these causes and come to the Army Run regardless of it not being a physical event this year.”
The first Canada Army Run was held Sept. 21, 2008 when some 7,000 runners put rubber to the Ottawa asphalt, making it the most successful inaugural run ever held in Canada. It is also known for offering unique challenges, such as combining two distance races in one day.
One of the most moving parts of each race is right at the beginning when a wave of injured soldiers take to the course. It is a fitting reminder of not only the sacrifices being made in defense of our country, but also why fundraising for these organizations is so important.
“Soldier On is invaluable to recovery and to really empower them to adapt and reintegrate with local community-based activities and remain active for the rest of their lives,” Quinlan says.
Joanne Bradley from SoldierOn participating in Canada Army Run
She had the opportunity to spend some time with members of the program during a recent cycling training camp in Gatineau. The experience left her moved.
“A couple of them I had met before, and they're so strong, they're so resilient,” she explains. “And some of them have really experienced more than anyone should have to. It’s a great opportunity for them to maintain that sense of community.”
The other organization, Support Our Troops, assists military families in need by providing emergency financial assistance in times of distress.
There will be an official Soldier On team participating virtually in this year’s event.
Quinlan actually began her new position as the race director of Army Run earlier this year in January.
“I started participation in 2016, although I first heard about Canada Army Run when I was in the West Coast, where I'm originally from,” she says. “I was one of those people who didn't get the chance to come to Ottawa and truly experience the race. Nevertheless, the messaging from friends was always positive and made me look forward to experiencing it myself. So when we started moving around the country because my husband is also in the army, we finally had a chance to come and participate. That’s when iI understood the powerful and symbolic nature of the event.”
Of course, as we all know, things went sideways quickly and the race we once knew had changed.
“We thought that we were already well in progress towards planning for the 2020 event. And then, yeah. Plot twist,” she says. “It's been challenging for everybody and the entire industry. It's definitely an interesting time to be involved.”
The other challenge is that there are many people who aren't familiar with what a virtual run is, although that is changing.
“I like to tell people that although the mass gathering at the start line is virtual, but the running part is still very much real,” Quinlan says.
All people need to do is go to the website and register for the distance of their choice, and they have the opportunity at that point to create or to join a team. There is also the opportunity to create a fundraising page. Participants receive the SWAG and race kits through the mail, and then runners complete their chosen distance during the event window, which is the 12th to the 20th of September.
“At the end of your run, you upload the results to the race roster page,” she says. “Super simple. And then voila, you are part of the Canada Army Run family. So the good news is that it’s really simple. And you can do it from anywhere.”
“We're excited to share this with everybody,” Quinlan adds. “Please come join us.”