Friday, August 26, 2011

Preview of 2011 MitoCanada “Running on Empty” Ultra Marathon

By Blaine Penny

Mitochondrial Disease affects our body’s ability to produce energy, impairing our cells and often compromising major organs. This video sums up what happened to my son Evan 3.5 years ago, and what Sarah and I have been pouring our energy into to do our part.

The MitoCanada “Running on Empty” Ultra Marathon originated a little over year ago with Duncan’s idea of running a long distance through the mountains (Jasper to Banff) to raise awareness and funds for mitochondrial disease. After pouring over the maps and hashing about many ideas and variations of a run, we decided on a simple 100 km loop through Kananaskis Country starting and finishing in Canmore. The run took 18 hours to complete and was one of the most memorable mountain adventures in my life.

Neil Webb, an award winning Calgary Film Maker (and son of Rick Webb who also ran), followed us for the 18-hour journey shooting video, which he put together in a very powerful 20 min documentary of the run. The documentary has since been submitted to several International and local film festivals to help raise awareness.

Last years run was very successful in raising awareness and also raised $35,000 towards MitoCanada’s mission. The run far exceeded our expectations and also confirmed we were on to something special that resonated with people from many walks of life who we were hoping to reach. It didn’t take much longer than the mud drying on shoes before we starting throwing about ideas for another aesthetic mountain route for the 2nd annual “Running on Empty”.

The 2011 version of the run is quite similar to last year and has 100, 50 and 25 km options.

New this year…
Route change – West Bragg Creek to 3 Sister’s (Canmore)
“Rolling on Empty” – mountain bike group led by my friend Brendan McCracken

We have 26 runners and 4 mountain bikers signed up. This is a good size group, which limits the logistics. With that said, when your event course is strung out over 100 km there are still plenty of logistics and safety considerations even with a small group.

Organizing the run over the last 2 years has been a great learning experience and crash course in event planning. There are a lot of details and last minute things, but thanks to Trevor Baine, Rob Armstrong and Sarah it has all come together nicely.  Trevor in particular has been working hard behind the scenes getting all our permits in place for over 6 months with the last one just coming through last week! We all sat down on Tuesday night and went over the last of the details, and surprisingly, it has been a pretty relaxing week.

The weather forecast couldn’t be better and we hit the trails of West Bragg Creek at midnight tomorrow night to start running. We will be watching a beautiful sunrise as we climb up Jumpingpound Mountain on Sunday morning – not a bad treat for knocking off 50 km of running!

The run has an additional parallel this year. Not only is the run a great parallel with the energy aspect of this debilitating disease, but we will be running in parallel with my new friend Dr. Kyle McLaughlin who will be on course in Penticton, BC completing his 2nd Ironman (in 2 months) as part of his ‘MitoCanada Ironman Double Double’ 

Kyle has raised an incredible amount of awareness in the medical community as well as the general public over the last 4 months since we first met (including raising over $16,500 for MitoCanada). It’s going to be pretty cool to be running along in my hurt zone and texting his wife Carrie words of encouragement to pass on to Kyle.

I also want thank our Sponsors and Supporters – Saucony, Strides, Clifbar, Smith Events, Pure Life Pursuits (and UltrAspire).

Sarah and I are so grateful to be surrounded by such an incredible group of friends, family, work colleagues and supportive community that make lives easier and give people hope.

There is a lot of good ENERGY in this town – now let’s go running!

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