With the U.S. land borders closed to automobiles, 12 runners are on their way by foot from Toronto to Chicago for the 2021 Chicago Marathon this Sunday.
On Tuesday, Oct. 5, the group of runners departed from the base of the CN Tower at dawn. They plan to travel 850 km to Chicago over three days and three nights. Their adventure is a non-stop ultra-relay, consisting of 83 legs, where each runner will have to cover between eight and 13 kilometres each leg.
This run was orchestrated by Lululemon ambassador Quinton Jacobs, who made a similar journey from Toronto to New York in 2019. After completing New York, Jacobs approached his friend Anoke Dunston with an epic proposition to run to the 2020 Chicago Marathon. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, they had to postpone their journey until 2021. Still, with the U.S. land borders closed to automobiles, it has created a logistical flurry for the group.
The two friends rounded up four Canadians and six Americans to join them on their Escape to Chicago challenge. “We have one RV, two support vehicles and a Sprinter van,” says Jacobs. “When Anoke and I reach London, Ont., we will drive back to Toronto’s Pearson airport to meet our American contingent travelling with us now in Detriot.”
When the group reaches Detriot, they have another van waiting for them to get the group to Chicago. “The pandemic has been a hiccup in the planning of our event, but we are making it work,” says Dunston.
Jacobs was first inspired to start this challenge by a run to Montreal, which he did with friends a few years ago. “We built this challenge around vibes, and to put a spotlight on the people who are leaders in our community,” says Jacobs. “Our goal is to raise money for charity and showcase our team of inspiring people doing inspiring things.”
Lululemon has sponsored their run and invited the Toronto, Detriot and Chicago running communities to join in on cheering the Escape to Chicago team during their journey – hosting run celebration parties at the stores as the runners pass through each major city.
The group is completing this challenge in support of the St. Felix Centre, a non-profit organization supporting homelessness and food insecurity in Toronto. They are also fundraising for local kids’ charities in Detriot and Chicago. You can check out their GoFundMe page, here.