The Canada Army Run is probably one of the top five biggest races in the country and almost certainly has the largest 5K. Proceeds raised at the event benefit Soldier On and Support Our Troops, charities aligned with the Canadian armed forces that benefit ill and injured soldiers. On race day, as many as 25% of participants will have direct military connections.
“It’s a different emotional game, that’s for sure, when you come and do our event,” says Gus Garant, the Army Run race director who is himself as a veteran, having served three tours overseas. “The race is a small token for civilians to demonstrate their support and for veterans, it’s the same thing. In the military, we choose to put ourselves in harm’s way and to feel appreciated by our country, it goes along way.”
It’s no secret that veterans have a long history of suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorders. In the US, veteran affairs officials estimate as many as 31% of Vietnam veterans and 20% of veterans from the Iraq war suffer from PTSD. As runners, we know how beneficial the sport can be for our mental health. And according to Garant, the sport can work wonders on veterans, as well. Natasha Dupis was a veteran who suffered greatly after her service. With the help of Soldier On, she was able to resume a healthy state of mind.
“When Soldier On was able to give Natasha fitness equipment, it worked well to help her rebuild her confidence again,” Garant says. “We all know someone who suffers from mental health issues, and that’s why all of our proceeds go to these charity funds.”
There is any number of terrific running events in Canada. The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon brings out our country’s top racers each year and the Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon in Halifax is friendly and fun. Ottawa Race Weekend is the largest running event in the country—and one of the biggest in the world—and it’s hard to top Vancouver for its stunning views and race course. But the Army Run is something different. On Remembrance Day, it feels according to give them a salute.
Sharing that course with the veterans, some valiantly hustling on artificial limbs, is to feel shaken and moved. On days like today we’re afforded the opportunity to thank our men and women overseas for their service. And during the Army Run event it’s the same thing, except we’re not watching them at a parade. We’re right alongside them on the race course, and whether they’re rolling or limping or running faster than me as I struggle to finish another 21K, it’s a moving tribute and celebration to the people, as Garant says, who voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way.
Thank you to everybody who provides this country with a great service.
The Canada Army Run is but one way we’ve found to honour our brave troops.