The Gillette ad We Believe: the best men can be has sparked controversy this week. The ad highlights stereotypical forms of toxic masculinity and encourages men to unite and change. It may not appear as though the viral video has much to do with trail running. But Edmonton based trail runner Michael Cameron thinks otherwise.
When Cameron experienced the consequences of gender-based violence and unmanaged emotion, he turned to trail running. In 2015, his partner Colleen was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. In the midst of his grief, Cameron chose to be part of the solution, and has transformed the tragedy into a catalyst for change. His mission is to help prevent gender-based violence by promoting a new framework–for men in particular.
In his letter challenging men to change, Cameron asks men to feel and feel often. He challenges men to ignite discussions and conversations about their emotions. As a trail runner, Cameron has learned that this dialogue with the self or with others often occurs on the trails. He believes a solution to unmanaged emotion can be providing these opportunities through trail running.
Like many endurance athletes, pushing himself as a runner continues to be Cameron’s emotional outlet. “For me and many of my running friends, hitting the trails for a few hours is a time where we can be alone with ourselves and reflect and explore these emotions in a healthy way. I view running as a healthy outlet for my masculinity. The ad simply asks us men to challenge our peers when they find less healthy outlets.”
In order to engage men and boys, Cameron has created Ignore No More–Run For Respect 3K and 10K trail run in Edmonton every September. In support of the Stop Abuse in Families (SAIF) Society, the run brings awareness to gender-based violence and the important discussions that are essential for change.