In 2020 the Big Canada Run inspired runners across the country to lace up their shoes and head out the door, and after a successful first year, the virtual challenge is back and bigger than ever. This year, this fun team event is offering an opportunity for Canadians to run, walk or hike across Canada while supporting local communities and connecting with runners in all corners of the country.
Race director Valentina Escobedo explains the idea first came about while she was out on a run in Ottawa. “Road trips and the idea of crossing Canada are part of Canadian culture,” she says. “We want to challenge participants to take on the coveted challenge to run across Canada as a team.”
Last year, thousands of runners from across Canada and 16 other countries participated, collectively running over 1,829,943 kilometres. For the 2021 event, Escobedo and her team have upped the ante with two different route options and a double challenge, with the goal of far surpassing that distance.
“It’s been hard to set goals in this time and hard to stay motivated and connected with our friends and families,” says Escobeda. “This race helps us get out the door and feeling part of a supportive community.”
How does the challenge work?
This year, the Big Canada Run consists of three sub-events to choose from. The first option is the original team run across Canada, from St. John’s, N.L. to Victoria, B.C., for a total distance of 8,000 kilometres. The second option takes runners from Victoria up to Whitehorse, Yukon, and finishes on the coast of Newfoundland, bringing the distance up to 10,000 kilometres. Finally, truly ambitious Canadians can sign up for the Maple Challenge, in which participants will complete both routes to run a total distance of 18,000 kilometres.
The run starts on July 1, 2021, and continues until June 30, 2022. The mobile app provided for the event (which syncs with your fitness tracker or sports watch) will track your progress on a virtual route across Canada, so participants can see their avatars and others as they make their way across the country, and as they increase their distance traveled, they’ll receive virtual badges to mark their progress. Participants are also invited to join the Facebook event and follow the run on Instagram where they can see photos and be a part of the Big Canada Run community.
Running to support a good cause
Not only is this a fun event to keep you motivated, but the Big Canada Run supports multiple children’s charities, including the CHEO Foundation, a global leader in pediatric healthcare and research with a mission to provide the best life for every child and youth. In 2020, the Big Canada Run raised over $16,000 for charity, and this year organizers have increased their fundraising goal to $25,000.
Until July first, registration starts at $60 (depending on the event you choose), and prices will jump as of July 2. For more information, check out the event website, or head over to the Big Canada Run Facebook or Instagram pages. The Big Canada Run is also giving Canadian Running readers a 10 per cent discount for all race entries. Enter the code RUNNING10 on the registration page for this price reduction.