Three years ago, Alberta filmmaker Kate McKenzie travelled to Afghanistan to make a documentary about that country’s only marathon. But she couldn’t tell anyone what she was doing, to avoid endangering its female participants, who were discouraged and even threatened for wanting to run. Once McKenzie was back home and able to talk about what she’d been up to, she was shocked to hear many Canadian women say that they often didn’t feel safe when running, even in their own communities.
When McKenzie met John Stanton of the Running Room at the Ottawa 10K the following year and shared this with him, he offered to help her create a running event that would bring the universal issues of safety and inclusiveness to light, not just in Afghanistan but right here in Canada. And so the Secret Marathon 3K was born, in 10 cities across Canada last year.
This year it’s taking place Wednesday, March 6 at 6:30 p.m. (in the same week as International Women’s Day) at Running Room locations in 16 Canadian cities, with a virtual run for participants in 10 countries around the world. The run also partnered with Canadian Women For Women in Afghanistan, and has already raised enough money to fund four full-time teachers for one year, supporting girls’ education there.
Help us create a world where everyone is free to run. #TheSecretMarathon3K shows on a micro level what is possible when we come together to create safe & inclusive communities for all. Register today at https://t.co/wRrbBHIYJ6#Run #IWD2019 #Runner pic.twitter.com/5urk7KVfaU
— The Secret Marathon (@asecretmarathon) March 4, 2019
“It’s taken on a life of its own,” McKenzie says, “due in huge part to the running community that’s rallied around this, and who said ‘we want everyone to be free to run.'”
So far more than 600 participants are signed up for the March 6 event in Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna, Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Peterborough, Barrie, Waterloo, Kingston, Toronto, Ottawa, Fredericton, Halifax and St.John’s, Nfld., and virtually. (You can still participate in the virtual run even if you don’t live in one of those locations.)
“In honour of the Marathon of Afghanistan, we keep the race route secret,” McKenzie adds. “We want to give people an opportunity to reflect on the fact that that is part of the reality for our friends in Afghanistan.”
The documentary on the Marathon of Afghanistan is on schedule to be completed this spring, and McKenzie hopes to see it premiere in the fall of 2019.
Click here for more information, and to sign up.