A 24-year-old Red Deer native will be running from Calgary to his hometown this weekend, as he gears up to run across Canada this summer to raise awareness for mental health.
Skylar Roth-MacDonald will start at South Centre Mall in Calgary at 10 p.m. Saturday and expects to arrive in Red Deer between 8-10 p.m. Sunday. This is part of a virtual charity run called Project 24.
Several teams will participate in Project 24 – the team with the most kilometres covered in 24 hours gets to choose the charity everyone’s entry fees will go.
Roth-MacDonald, who now lives in Calgary, said this weekend’s 160-kilometre run will be a good test as he prepares to run across Canada this summer.
“If I can get through 160 kilometres in a day, then on the Canada run I’ll be able to push through,” Roth-MacDonald said.
“On the Canada run, I’d run between 55K and 60K each day. If I can mentally push through 160K, I think I can manage to push through those 50K days in the summer.”
He will begin the “Miles for Smiles” journey June 1 in Victoria B.C. and aims to get across the country, to St. John’s, N.L., in 150 days or less. He wants to raise $50,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Mental health is an important subject that affects everyone, said Roth-MacDonald. When he was 12, Roth-MacDonald lost a friend to suicide. Another friend of his died by suicide just a few years later. Between Grade 7 and high school graduation, he knew eight people who died by suicide.
“If you don’t know anyone who has (died by) suicide, I guarantee you know someone who has lost somebody. It was a no-brainer for me to want to donate to the Canadian Mental Health Association,” he said, adding that after COVID-19 he wants to travel to schools and share his story, to help students get through struggles they may be having.
Roth-MacDonald has been thinking about doing a cross-country run for years. He has been training for the past year and has been organizing everything since the last six months.
“The big thing for me is getting volume in and letting your body take that in without getting injured,” he said.
“In 2023, I want to be the first North American to run around the globe. The Canada run is bucket list thing for me, but it’s also a massive pilot project to see if I can physically do it and organize it.”
For more information on Miles for Smiles or to donate, visit www.milesforsmilescanada.com.