A growing group of runners looking to burn off some steam will be raising money this spring to support mental-health causes for a second time, following last year’s successful inaugural event near the outset of the pandemic.
The second annual Across the Nation Run in Isolation will take place May 15, with proceeds once again going toward the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Calgarian Andrew Flower said he got the idea in the months after COVID-19 took hold in March 2020, as he was walking alone along the Bow River. An avid runner who looks forward to summertime competitions, he proposed the idea of a solo running competition with a few friends as a way to stay active.
The idea snowballed on social media as other restless Calgarians wanted in. They decided to make it a charity event in light of the unexpected interest.
“It kind of caught like wildfire,” Flower said.
“I think with a lot of people you need some sort of competition to kick you in the butt and get going.”
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Around 175 participants helped raise more than $20,000 last year. With a stronger push and more time to plan this year, they’re hoping for a repeat of those numbers.
Flower said the event is open to runners everywhere, who are encouraged to post pictures, along with their times, on the event’s Facebook page.
Categories include 5K, 10K, 15K and 21K, but anyone can take part regardless of experience or target goals. Flower noted that three participants ran a full marathon last year.
“It’s a tough time during isolation for everyone, mentally, and those stress relievers like running and getting active are really good for (relieving) anxiety and all that stuff,” Flower said.