The annual Canada Army Run saw significant changes this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of cancelling the run, race organizers decided to instead turn the Army Run into a virtual event. Participants were invited to run the various race routes close to home instead of coming together in Ottawa. A team from 2 Combat Engineer Regiment put together marked routes on the Garrison; the start point was at the Petawawa Golf Club. (Photo by Leading Seaman Elizabeth Ross)
Virtual Canada Army Run sells out, CAF members participate locally on trails at Grn Petawawa
By Patricia Leboeuf
Posted on Thursday October 15, 2020
The 2020 Canada Army Run broke new ground when it went virtual.
Since it began in 2008, the run has been held in Ottawa and brings together thousands of military members and civilians in one colossal race. With its incredible popularity with race fans, organizers thought it best to continue in an alternative format.
Canadian Armed Forces members, in particular, greatly anticipate this run as it is an opportunity to prove themselves.
“It allows people to train and have a tangible goal,” said 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2 CMBG) Brigade Commander Lieutenant Colonel (LCol) Eric Landry.
About 150 people from Petawawa officially participated in the Army Run over the eligible period.
As a whole, the event still sold out. Participants could choose between 5 km, 10 km, 15 km, a half marathon or 26.1 km, which is the coveted Commander’s Challenge.
As long as they completed their assigned race between Sept. 12 and 20, it did not matter where they ran.
“I’m glad that they kept it in that format, it would have been so much easier to just cancel everything,” said LCol Landry. “The feedback that I’ve received from the troops so far has been really good.”
While participants did miss the social aspects of going to Ottawa on race day, going virtual allowed athletes to race, regardless of their location.
But the Canada Army Run isn’t just a way to prove who is fastest on their feet; it is also a fundraiser for Support Our Troops.
According to the Army Run website, the event raised $34,105.02 for Support Our Troops as of Sept. 21. This organization provides assistance to help military members and their loved ones cope with challenges arising from being in service.
“All the money is put to good use,” said LCol Landry. “It’s really refreshing and motivating to see those veterans do the Army Run, including some people with disabilities.”
When the idea to host a virtual Army Run locally was suggested, there was thought of organizing an actual event including water stations and a shotgun start. But that was quickly deemed counterintuitive.
Instead, runners of 2 CMBG were given marked routes throughout Petawawa to help them complete the race without worrying about measuring distance.
“The idea is to provide a safe course that people could use at any time,” LCol Landry said. “I thought the idea of keeping it but keeping it decentralized was a good idea.”
LCol Landry himself, often participates in the Army Run and highly encourages every 2 CMBG member to run as much as possible.
“Running is one of the very few, very safe activities that we can do in times of COVID, especially if you are going to do it outside,” he said. “I encourage it because it is a way for people to stay fit.”
Though this is the first time that the Army Run has gone virtual, it isn’t uncommon for soldiers who are overseas to participate in a “Shadow Army Run.” This was merely a more organized version of this side race.
“In the years to come, if they resume the Army Run, maybe we can keep those satellite runs going,” said LCol Landry.
To see the list of race winners, please visit armyrun.ca.