Smoky River Runners is hosting a Run to Remember for veterans from our region who served to keep our country a safe place to live.

“The Smoky River Runners club wanted to recognize and show our communities we have veterans of all ages and that we can serve them by recognizing their sacrifice,” says organizer Michelle Phillips as to the history of why the run was created.

“That first run was born out of the idea that our Canadian veterans served and sacrificed for all of us and we are free to live – and to run – because of their sacrifice. When I look back on that very first Run to Remember there were so, so many people who immediately stepped up to get involved and show their support.

“Our first Run to Remember in honour of local veteran’s like Tyler Ellsworth, who served in Afghanistan along with of our Canadian veterans was on Nov. 12, 2017.”

This year’s run will be held at the McLennan Legion #8 on Nov. 12, with check in starting at 12:30 p.m., warm-up at 1:15 p.m., and the run commencing at 1:30 p.m. The 3-km run will feature a reception after the run, with awards given to the first 50 runners who complete the endeavour.

Run cost is $5 for adults, and $2 for children under 18 years of age. Kids who sign up through their schools get to run for free.

Proceeds will all be donated to the McLennan Legion.

“The run is returning this year largely due to Const. Steven Struthers, Sgt. Allan Paterson, both currently serving with the McLennan RCMP, who were ready to bring the run back,” explains Phillps.

“As with every year and every run, the engagement of the schools and community support is what makes Smoky River Runners events such a success.”

She says the run has strong supporters in local educators Alysia Sharp, Natasha Smit, Maddy Struthers, Nicole Walliser, Henri Valiquette, and Darcy Servant, who are all promoting the run to their students.

“This is a fun run, but competitive runners can keep their own times,” she explains. “Participants can run, walk or jog. Over the years we have had families with wagons or sleds (depending on weather), dogs, large friend groups in matching attire, serious runners looking to race one another, serious runners looking for a quiet run of contemplation, casual joggers looking for time with fellow outdoors enthusiasts and comfortable walkers enjoying the time outdoors with others.”

Phillips urges everyone to come out to support the event, and she says it’s a great experience for all participants regardless of whether they run or walk.

“Each year we have RCMP members run the event, sometimes in full gear, sometimes dressed for speed but always there to run with and inspire those along the route,” Phillips says.

“There’s always a playful component of the light-hearted challenge to ‘run like the cops are chasing you’ or to see if you can ‘out run the cops’. Humour is part the culture of Canadian Forces, it is a big part of the camaraderie among those who serve, camaraderie and service are often the two things that draw people to the Canadian Forces.”

Phillips says Ellsworth has been a partner and source of pride for everyone involved in the run, and he attends every Run to Remember representing military veterans, interacting with the youth and running the event with his wife, Jamie, and all the participants.

“Ellsworth is an inspiration and reminder of the pride we have in our Canadian military,” she says.

“We couldn’t be more thankful for his service and his willingness to run with the kids. You only have to look at the admiration in the eyes of a child watching him run in his camo to see the impact his presence has. We all know that when he runs among us, we are running for a reason.”

She explains the run is a great opportunity to reflect on all that our Canadian military does for our country and to teach the youth in our community about what is sacrificed on our behalf.

“I often speak to the kids about sacrifice, honour, grit, determination, purpose,” she says. “It can be a simple sacrifice they can understand, sacrifice their time spent playing Xbox or watching TV for the benefit of their health, sacrifice their comfort for the discomfort of doing something hard like running in the cold for a few kilometers for the pride of knowing they finished, sacrifice their time spent thinking of other things for the gratitude and deep understanding of what those in the Canadian Forces sacrifice today and historically for each of us.”

Phillips says that it’s important to reflect on the women and men who gear up, walk, and run into situations some could never imagine, for our country, our country of individuals they may never know.

“Many pay a price for that sacrifice and it’s a steep one,” she reflects. “So many have paid the ultimate price, giving their life. Others, paid as dearly, but the cost was physical or mental injuries that forever change their lives.”

She says it’s important for people to participate and know that our soldiers are the definition of grit and it is important to remind runners of the hardships endured by those who serve and that quitting is never an option, pace yourself, slow down or rest if you need, take a break if you must, but quitting is never an option.

“How can we honour the grit of our Canadian Forces, the fallen, the injured, the serving, and the well?” she asks.

“We can pay the price with a little grit of our own by running to remember the sacrifices of our veterans that we all benefit from,” she adds.

“We can do it together, we can bring our community members from all over the region and area together, inspiring them to get up, gear up, walk and run. Each and every person in our community has value and is important, you all have something to offer and when we come together our community is strong and we know we are a part of something special here in the Smoky River Region.”

Interested runners can go to the McLennan RCMP, where both Nancy McNeil and Lucy Dupuis will happily provide sign-up forms and take registrations along with Sgt. Paterson, Cst. Struthers and other members of the detachment. Otherwise, people can email for a registration form and make arrangements for payment, or go to Original Pete’s in Falher to sign up.

Students who advance register through their school or home-schooled students who email to advance register can register for free.

By Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Nov 01, 2023 at 10:55

This item reprinted with permission from   South Peace News   High Prairie, Alberta

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