Soldiers trade boots for running shoes, promote fitness
Canada’s military reservists are used to going where they are needed.
Soldiers from 41 Signal Regiment, which is based in Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary, were among the first on the ground to lend a hand during the summer flooding in High River and Calgary.
So it’s no surprise the volunteer soldiers were happy to go above and beyond for a good cause at Red Deer’s Terry Fox Run on Sunday at Heritage Ranch.
About 30 reservists took part, hitting the trail as a group behind their regimental standard.
Their participation capped off a weekend that saw relay teams run simultaneously from Edmonton and Calgary, beginning on Friday and meeting at Red Deer’s Veterans’ Park early Saturday evening.
Teams stopped off in various communities along the way for brief community plaque presentations.
The relay was organized to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the founding of Canada’s professional military communications branch, to shine a light on the unit and the opportunities it offers and to promote physical fitness and the Terry Fox Run.
“I’m just very proud of all the soldiers.
They’ve done an excellent job and there was good teamwork yesterday running from Edmonton and Calgary to Red Deer,” said regiment commanding officer Lt.-Col. Natalie De Roij, who is based in Calgary.
The soldiers got lots of honks and waves from passing motorists as they ran, which was appreciated, she said.
“It’s really encouraging to us and we really want to thank everybody for their support as well.”
Runners each did stretches of four to seven km each before being spelled off by another runner for a time.
“It’s been a really great experience and the soldiers have all expressed an interest in doing it again so we’ll definitely take a look at it,” said De Roij.
Terry Fox Run organizer Loretta Winia was pleased with the military support and the turnout overall.
Among the 400 participants was a contingent from Red Deer College’s volleyball team, who led runners in a pre-race warm-up.
The race raised just over $22,000, said Winia.
Maj. Bruce Macdonnell, 41 Signal Regiment operations officer, said running down the highway was a lot of fun and helped by the amount of public support runners got as they did their shifts.
“There was really good support from people driving by and from the towns along the way.”
There was a direct connection with the cancer fundraiser for the unit. One of the regiment’s members is a cancer survivor and a member of the Edmonton squadron lost a member to cancer several years ago.
That officer’s wife and son ran a leg of the relay from Edmonton to Red Deer on Saturday.
“That was very cool to have them out with us.”
Ron Woodward, the regiment’s honorary colonel, said the run was a great chance to show the public that many members of the military and living and working in their communities.
It says a lot about the reservists, who are part-time soldiers and have regular jobs, that they were willing to devote their weekend to spreading the word about their unit and helping out with the Terry Fox Run, said Woodward, who formerly headed Red Deer College.