Celebrating 10 years of Canada Army Run

Article / September 14, 2017 / Project number: 17-0251

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By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

Ottawa, Ontario — Organizing Canada Army Run (CAR) means you have to start thinking about the next one from the moment it ends each year. This year, however, CAR is very much about looking back.

Organizers are celebrating both the event’s 10th edition – taking place September 17 in Ottawa – and taking the opportunity to mark a milestone in Canada’s military history. Two new events will mark the 2017 CAR: A 10K run to celebrate the 10th anniversary year and the Vimy Challenge, which combines the new 10 K race with the traditional 5K race to mark the centenary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

In addition, a section of the CAR course will be named ‘Remembrance Row’ and be lined with the names and images of Veterans no longer with us.

With that in mind, we present a look back at just some of the milestones and great moments of the last decade of CAR, which has raised more than $2 million to date for programs that help ill and injured soldiers and military families in need.

2008

CAR was a huge success in its first year, attracting 7,000 military and civilian participants. Not only was the event a sellout, but the attendance shattered previous records for participation in similar inaugural runs. Two events were created and exist to this day: the popular 5K run and the grueling half marathon.

2009

Participation jumped to 11,000 in this year, making CAR one of the country’s fastest-growing running events. Master Corporal (Retired) Jody Mitic completed the half marathon – a personal first for the former Canadian Army sniper, who had lost both legs just two-and-a-half years before while serving in Afghanistan.

Year two included another poignant connection to our troops serving in Afghanistan: two weeks before participants took their marks in the capital, 500 soldiers from Canada and elsewhere took part in a satellite run in Afghanistan, where temperatures hit 30ºC.

2010

More than two weeks before race day, registration for CAR 2010 had already exceeded the previous year’s and more than 14,000 would participate in total.

Rick Ball of Orillia, Ontario finished the 2009 CAR half marathon with a time of 1:20:44.9 – breaking the previous world record for single-leg amputees. He returned in 2010 with a different goal. As he said at the time, “I am coming to support the troops, not to break records.” Mr. Ball also participated in a training clinic for ill and injured military members.

Soldier On and the Military Families Fund, organizations providing direct assistance to ill or injured soldiers and their families, received nearly $60,000 of funds raised during the run.

2011

Demand continued to grow in CAR’s fourth year, and more than 16,000 people ran, walked or wheeled across the various finish lines.

Once again, more than 600 personnel from the Canadian Armed Forces and allied militaries ran in parallel races in the heat of Kandahar Air Field (KAF).

“Having a KAF Canada Army Run, particularly on the same day as the run in Ottawa, is important to Canadian Forces members here in Afghanistan,” said Brigadier-General Charles Lamarre, Commander of the Mission Transition Task Force (MTTF).

2012

The fifth annual run was a success before it even began. It was sold out, with more than 18,000 participants registered, two months before the September 23 start date.

Jason Dunkerley, a five-time Paralympian medalist who was born without sight, returned to Army Run at the invitation of Soldier On. He and a guide ran alongside a group of injured and ill soldiers.

“The Paralympic movement had its start with injured soldiers,” he said, “so I do feel some connection. I am honoured to be able to run with some of Canada’s injured and ill and to offer my support because I’m grateful for all they do and the sacrifices they have made.”

2013

To accommodate the increased demand anticipated following 2012’s fast sell-out, CAR organizers added an additional 4,000 spots, bringing the total to 22,000 participants that year.. Again, two months before race day, the event sold out.

Governor General David Johnston and wife Sharon Johnston made their third CAR appearance as participants. The pair also took on the role of patrons in 2013. Lieutenant-General Marquis Hainse, then-Commander of the Canadian Army, was also part of the 2013 event, which generated more than $300,000 for Soldier On and the Military Families Fund.

2014

Honourary Colonel Rick Hansen offered his support to CAR 2014 and served as guest speaker at the pasta dinner held each year on the night prior to the event. In addition to being one of Canada’s most successful and best-known para-athletes, HCol Hansen became the Honourary Colonel of the Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU) of the Canadian Armed Forces in 2012. JPSU offers support to injured or ill military members both current and retired as well as their families.

More than 25,000 took part in 2014 – another sell-out – and raised over $350,000 for Soldier On and the Military Families Fund.

2015

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston made a return appearance, along with other VIPs including LGen Haines and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. Once again, more than 20,000 Canadians took part, raising $400,000 for Soldier On and the Military Families Fund, bringing the total raised since 2008 to over $1 million.

A few months before the event, CAR organizers proudly accepted a 2014 Community Spirit Award, which recognizes organizations in the tourism sector supporting charities in the National Capital Region.

2016

The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of Defence, was among 2016’s participants, as was Canadian Army Commander Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk and Army Sergeant-Major Chief Warrant Officer Alain Guimond.

A new event was introduced: the Commander’s Coin Challenge. Participants ran, walked or rolled officially in both the 5K and half marathon events. Participants received unique bib, hat and race shirts and, upon completion of the Challenge, received a special coin as well as their dog tag medals.

Bombardier (Retired) Christine Gauthier, one of the first women to serve in the Combat Arms, was the top female finisher in the half marathon for ill, injured or disabled athletes. Bmdr (Retd) Gauthier and Olympian Krista DuChene will be guest speakers at the CAR 2017 pasta dinner.

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