In honour of Remembrance Day and all those who have fought to defend our country, Ontario-based VR Pro Races has linked up with the Juno Beach Centre in Normandy, France, to organize a virtual event. The Remembrance Day Races include three events — the StrongPoint 1500 metre, the Juno Beach 8K or the Remembrance 21.1K — all of which will raise funds for the Juno Beach Centre, a Canadian-run non-profit that, as outlined on its official website, seeks to educate “future generations about the role of Canada in preserving the freedoms we are privileged to enjoy today.” The Remembrance Day Races are live until November 28, and $10 of each entry will be donated to the Juno Beach Centre.
The shortest of the three virtual races is the StrongPoint 1500m. This race is named after the strongpoints at Juno Beach on D-Day in 1944, specifically in the German-controlled towns of Courseulles-sur-Mer, Bernières-sur-Mer and Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer. There were many obstacles that Allied troops had to overcome to reach these strongpoints, and a 1,500m stretch of beach was stormed by Canadian and British forces, hence the race title of StrongPoint 1500m.
Next is the Juno Beach 8K. On D-Day, about 14,000 Canadian soldiers and an additional 7,000 Brits landed on Juno Beach and pressed forward on a roughly 8K length of land. This distance lends itself perfectly to another race that can be run to honour each of those soldiers who risked their lives in France. Finally, the longest run of the virtual event is the Remembrance 21.1K, which is approximately how many Allied soldiers (21,000) fought on June Beach on D-Day on June 6, 1944.
In a press release announcing the race, VR Pro founder Kelly Arnott discussed the importance of holding a Remembrance Day race. “We don’t have it as a proper holiday yet,” she said. “So, especially with a year like this year without the Remembrance Day ceremonies, you can feel things dying off, you know, especially during a pandemic.” Arnott said she and the VR Pro team will continue its work with the Juno Beach Centre and the Remembrance Day Races in the years to come, and they hope to “actually do a proper event” next year.
Don Cooper, the president of the Juno Beach Centre Association (which is based in Burlington, Ont.), was also quoted in the press release. “We’re excited to be partnering with VR Pro for our first Remembrance Day Races,” he said. “The revenues we rely on to operate the Juno Beach Centre have been slashed by COVID-19, and the funds raised will help us recover from the impacts of the pandemic and continue to carry the torch for our veterans.”
To learn more about the Remembrance Day Races and support the Juno Beach Centre, click here.