The second annual Secret Marathon was held on March 6th, 2019 in 16 cities across Canada, including Red Deer.
The run was inspired by Red Deer’s own Kate McKenzie and Martin Parnell who participated in a marathon in Afganistan and were inspired by the Afghani participants who came together to support everyone’s right to walk or run free of fear in their community.
“The route of that marathon had to be kept a secret because of the safety for the participants and they were inspired by a lot of the people there, women in particular, but men too. Women who were running even though there were safety issues,” explained Renae Lafi, race director.
The run was in celebration of freedom but also the freedom to run, and walk in your own community which is not always possible across the world, but also sometimes difficult in some areas of Canada.
“There’s a story of one lady in particular who had to train in her small courtyard of her home not much bigger than a backyard that we would have here. She had to train for a 42-kilometre run there because it was unsafe for her to run in her community,” added Lafi.
As it would have been in Afghanistan, Red Deer’s race remained a secret until just before the run. Participants were able to run or walk three kilometres and enjoyed warm food and beverages afterward.
Overall, participation had greatly increased this year in comparison to last year, where Lafi and the host announcer, Bre Fitzpatrick were the only ones who participated in Red Deer during the previous years’ run.
“There was a goal set to raise 10,000 dollars out of this run. We’re at 12,000 dollars which means that through the Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, there could be forty girls who have the opportunity to receive an education…” said Fitzpatrick continuing, “This year to see a large group of runners out is amazing. We’ve more than doubled and tripled our size this year.”
Additionally, across Canada, the cities who hosted their own Secret Marathon have grown from ten to sixteen cities.
With this growth in popularity, the Secret Marathon will likely celebrate the right to run or walk safely in our community for many years to come.