Blue Line

Run to Remember held to honour veterans

November 1, 2023  By Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Nov. 1, 2023, Smoky River, Alta. – Smoky River Runners is hosting a Run to Remember for veterans from the region who served to keep Canada a safe place to live.

“The Smoky River Runners club wanted to recognize and show our communities we have veterans of all ages and that we can serve them by recognizing their sacrifice,” says organizer Michelle Phillips as to the history of why the run was created.

“That first run was born out of the idea that our Canadian veterans served and sacrificed for all of us, and we are free to live – and to run – because of their sacrifice. When I look back on that very first Run to Remember there were so, so many people who immediately stepped up to get involved and show their support. Our first Run to Remember in honour of local veterans like Tyler Ellsworth, who served in Afghanistan, was on Nov. 12, 2017.”

This year’s run will be held at the McLennan Legion #8 on Nov. 12, with the run commencing at 1:30 p.m. The 3-km run will feature a reception after the run, with awards given to the first 50 runners who complete the endeavour.


Proceeds from the run will be donated to the McLennan Legion.

“The run is returning this year largely due to Cst. Steven Struthers, Sgt. Allan Paterson, both currently serving with the McLennan RCMP, who were ready to bring the run back,” explains Phillps. “As with every year and every run, the engagement of the schools and community support is what makes Smoky River Runners events such a success.”

“Each year we have RCMP members run the event, sometimes in full gear, sometimes dressed for speed but always there to run with and inspire those along the route,” Phillips says. “There’s always a playful component of the light-hearted challenge to ‘run like the cops are chasing you’ or to see if you can ‘out run the cops.’ Humour is part the culture of Canadian Forces, it is a big part of the camaraderie among those who serve, camaraderie and service are often the two things that draw people to the Canadian Forces.”

Phillips says Tyler Ellsworth has been a partner and source of pride for everyone involved in the run, and he attends every Run to Remember representing military veterans, interacting with the youth and running the event with his wife, Jamie, and all the participants.

“Ellsworth is an inspiration and reminder of the pride we have in our Canadian military,” she says. “We couldn’t be more thankful for his service and his willingness to run with the kids. You only have to look at the admiration in the eyes of a child watching him run in his camo to see the impact his presence has. We all know that when he runs among us, we are running for a reason.”

She explains the run is a great opportunity to reflect on all that the Canadian military does for the country and to teach the youth in the community about what is sacrificed on our behalf.

“I often speak to the kids about sacrifice, honour, grit, determination, purpose,” she says. “It can be a simple sacrifice they can understand, sacrifice their time spent playing Xbox or watching TV for the benefit of their health, sacrifice their comfort for the discomfort of doing something hard like running in the cold for a few kilometers for the pride of knowing they finished, sacrifice their time spent thinking of other things for the gratitude and deep understanding of what those in the Canadian Forces sacrifice today and historically for each of us.”

Phillips says that it’s important to reflect on the women and men who gear up, walk, and run into situations some could never imagine, for the country, for individuals they may never know.

“Many pay a price for that sacrifice and it’s a steep one,” she reflects. “So many have paid the ultimate price, giving their life. Others, paid as dearly, but the cost was physical or mental injuries that forever change their lives.”

She says it’s important for people to participate and know that our soldiers are the definition of grit, and it is important to remind runners of the hardships endured by those who serve and that quitting is never an option, pace yourself, slow down or rest if you need, take a break if you must, but quitting is never an option.

“How can we honour the grit of our Canadian Forces, the fallen, the injured, the serving, and the well?” she asks. “We can pay the price with a little grit of our own by running to remember the sacrifices of our veterans that we all benefit from.”

– South Peace News

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