Running in Canada’s Longest Relay: The Monarch Ultra

It was Friday October, 8th, the day before my long anticipated 50k run with the Monarch Ultra. I was heading up to the highway for my afternoon school crosswalk duties. As I was walking by the school, Principal Marci called me over and asked if I had a couple of minutes. The students had been working really hard, and had something to present to me.

What a beautiful sight. The Grade 1 were all holding up for me to see this magnificent banner they had made. It had the words “Go Carl Go” and bordered with the most beautiful artwork. Plus I was given a wonderful stack of individual artwork with such encouraging messages for my run. I couldn’t linger too long as the kindergarten class also had something for me. They were all holding up this amazing banner with the words “Spread Your Wings Mr. Wright”. Then they all made motions with their hands that replicated butterflies in flight. What a tremendous send off for me and my run the next day. The beautiful thing about these dear children is that they have been learning all about the Monarch butterfly in their studies.

The idea for the Monarch Ultra began a few years ago with a simple thought by ultrarunner Carlotta James upon observing a Monarch butterfly in flight, “How appropriate it would be to raise awareness for Monarch conservation through the eyes of a runner.” That thought kept lingering until she acted upon it and followed through. With hundreds upon hundreds of volunteer hours of planning involved, the Monarch Ultra became a reality in 2019. With film director Rodney Fuentes, run director Clay Williams and team chef Günther Schubert, along with 46 ultrarunners the Monarch Ultra was an incredible accomplishment. It started at Peterborough, Ontario and ended 4,300 kilometers later at the Oyamel old growth cloud forests at Cerro Pelon sanctuary at Macheros, in the Sierra Madre mountains of Central Mexico. This first-of-its-kind international event took 47 days for 46 runners to complete while supported by the Monarch Ultra team.  Through 3 countries (across 2 international borders), 113 counties and municipalities, 14 states and provinces and 5 major ecoregions. The decision to run the route of the southern migration of monarchs from Canada, through the United States, to southern Mexico, through never-say-quit spirit of ultra-runners, who train tirelessly to be able to run extreme distances over multiple types of terrain and under adverse circumstances. It was an attempt to bring international attention to the plight of the monarch butterfly. This is a species whose Eastern population has crashed more than 90 percent in the past 20 years.

Route of the 2019 Monarch Ultra.

I have loved the Monarch butterfly and have taken them for granted ever since I was a child. However, because of the ubiquitous use of weed-killing herbicides in monoculture agriculture, millions of acres of habitat for milkweed have been wiped out across the United States and the Southern regions of Canada. Milkweed is an essential plant for the monarchs’ life cycle. Along with the loss of milkweed habitat there has been extreme weather events due to climate change. The Monarch butterfly numbers had precipitously declined as much as 90% since 1996. Their disappearance has prompted a national outpouring of support to bring this species back from the brink of extinction. In my province of Ontario the milkweed was finally taken off of the noxious weed list on April 11, 2014. You can now legally plant milkweed in Ontario.

This is what happened to precious milkweed in a local field of GMO soybeans after sprayed with Glyphosate. The website Global Glyphosate Study mentions “Glyphosate is the most used herbicide in human history, 3.5 billion pounds (1.6 billion kilograms) have been sprayed across the United States since 1974. Glyphosate use has increased 15 times since genetically modified crops were introduced in 1996.″

While the ultrarunners were busy running the migration route of the Monarch from Canada to Mexico in 2019, the support team was engaging with the news media, government officials, school groups, and horticultural societies in Canada, United States and Mexico. Anyone who would give a listening ear. It was a way to raise awareness of the plight of the Monarch. And also to encourage people to provide habitat for the Monarch. It can be as simple as not mowing a section of your monoculture lawn and let it regenerate back to nature. You would no longer be working against nature, but would be working with it.

In Mexico, the day I was running in magnificent Parque La Huasteca, the Monarch Ultra team was speaking at the American School Foundation of Monterrey. 

Because of COVID-19, the Monarch Ultra was not able to repeat it’s cross border international relay like in 2019. Instead an amazing 21 day, 1,800 kilometer relay through Southern Ontario was mapped out. Even with the shorter distance, it ended up being Canada’s longest relay run. The Monarch begins its great migration to Mexico in Southern Ontario. How appropriate to have this relay run through this region. Runners had two distance options, 30 kilometers or 50 kilometers. I registered as soon as it opened on February 26th, and was so fortunate to find myself running 50 kilometers on that final day right in my home township.

Route of the 2021 Monarch Ultra relay.

Because of COVID it was such a long seven and a half months since registration. I hadn’t run in any races since 2019. Lots of virtual runs including the long distance Great Virtual Run Across Tennessee both in 2020 and 2021. Even ran a 100 kilometer virtual this past summer. I trained for the 2021 Monarch Ultra, but there was always that question if it was enough. I was so excited of running that final day. But as the big day drew closer and my running partner Michelle (who I had not met) and myself were going to bring it all home, I was getting quite nervous.

It ended up being an amazing day. Our starting point was in Wyevale. I had just met Michelle, she and I had photos taken with the children’s banners and we were off. There was a light drizzle in the air. We were following what is known as the Simcoe County Loop Trail. Much of it follows abandoned rail line. But the route also goes on a lot of road. I’m guessing about a third of our distance was on road. Our 1st aid stop was in Elmvale. Michelle and I were greeted with hearty cheering from a dear 86 year old lady from my church named Myrtle and her friend Mae. It was so sweet of them to come out and cheer Michelle and myself on.

Such a dear lady, 86 year old Myrtle Jamieson came out to Elmvale Heritage Park to cheer Michelle and I on.

Several kilometers out from Elmvale we saw a runner coming towards us. We said hello, and she introduced herself. It was Kris, a Twitter friend (who I had never met). She wanted to surprise me and ended up running 15 kilometers to get to where we were. For the next 15 kilometers, until she got back to her car we were now a group of three. It was so much fun running with her and getting to know her. Kris took a quite a few photos for us while we were running together. The next 4 photos are hers. We had an aid stop in Phelpston (only 8 kilometers from where I live) and the next stop was 10 kilometers further where the trail crosses a quiet country road. These stops are wonderful for an ultrarunner, because it is a chance to refuel. It also means we don’t have to carry nearly as much hydration and nutrition with us to save some weight.

I so much enjoyed running with Michelle. Photo taken by Twitter friend, Kris.

During the 4,000-5,000 kilometer fall migration of the Monarch butterfly it is critical that there are places to refuel during their epic journey to Mexico. They are called “waystations”. Monarch Watch describes the requirements of the Monarch. They need sun but also shelter. They need nectar plants for fuel. Particularly for the multi-generational spring migration, Monarchs need milkweed plants. You can register your waystation with Monarch Watch. As of October 4, 2021 there are 36.863 waystations registered.

Those aid stations are so important for the ultrarunners. For the migrating Monarch butterflies they are critical. Monarch ultra Facebook photos.

A few more kilometers and Kris was back at her car. She ran 30 kilometers that day, 15 kilometers to where Michelle and I were. And 15 kilometers with us back to her car. Except for a short 2 kilometer section of trail, the remaining 14 kilometers were all on road. For a couple of kilometers on Snow Valley Road it poured rain. Traffic was busy and fast, and personally I felt extremely vulnerable. It was quite demoralizing. There are a lot of subdivisions in that area with another massive one just breaking ground. This is urban sprawl all centered around car dependency. The Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition mentions “Developers have already put in 70+ more requests to develop another 6400 hectares of more land in Simcoe County, pressuring the County to enrich these developers at the expense of our health and bank accounts.”

Classic example of urban sprawl. I took these photos a week earlier on a training run of the route. It was much nicer weather. This former farmland will have 2,500 housing units built as part of an eventual 10,000 units on neighboring properties. We are eating up valuable farmland to build isolated suburbs that force people to drive. They are difficult and expensive to service with public transit and virtually impossible to traverse by foot or pedal power. The result is predictable: more cars, more traffic congestion, longer commutes, more smog and more of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

Although our ultra was not a race, it was important that Michelle and I make it to Barrie City hall at 5:00 pm or no more than a few minutes after. There was going to be a reception waiting for our arrival. The last aid stop was at Sunnidale park, only 3 kilometers from the finish. We ended up having over a half hour to kill, so we all just hung out together. I hadn’t seen the Monarch Ultra team in 2 years. It was so wonderful to be with them. During that time Michelle got a temporary tattoo of Monarch butterflies on her face. We all shot a short video that was posted on social media. Then Michelle and I were on our way. I was so blessed to have Michelle as my running partner. We started together as strangers and we were now we were finishing as very dear friends.

A week earlier on my training run Highway 400 was fairly light when I crossed it on a Saturday at 2pm. Between 2020 and 2027 the highway is being expanded in sections to 10 lanes at a cost to Ontario taxpayers of $2.1 billion. It will bring with it more cars and more urban sprawl. At the same time, so little is spent on improved transit and a safe active transportation infrastructure. The two areas that will help climate change are virtually ignored.

After a major climb a few kilometers earlier, it was now all downhill for us. We crossed over the Highway 400. When this highway opened on July 1, 1952 it was the first full fully controlled access highway in Ontario. At the time it was well north of Barrie. The highway has brought with it so much urban sprawl. It now goes right through the middle of the city. As growth continued, widening of the highway to six lanes began in 1971. Because the population of this region is expected to explode from 357,000 people to 555,000 people (excluding Barrie and Orillia, which would make the totals 50% more) over the next 30 years, Highway 400 is in the process of expanding to 10 lanes. It means 16 bridges have been, or are in the process of being demolished to accommodate the widening. This is only going to create more urban sprawl and more car dependency. Plus south of Barrie, a highway called Holland Marsh Highway (Bradford Bypass) is proposed to be built through designated provincially significant wetlands at a cost to Ontario taxpayers of $1.5 billion. In a climate emergency like we are in, we have to do better. Our car culture carries with it such a hefty health and environmental burden. An article in Vox states that Vancouver remains the only major city in North America unmarred by freeways. The city’s success traces all the way back to the 1960s and ’70s, when the extraordinarily prescient citizens of Vancouver rejected a plan to build a network of urban freeways through the city. A goal was set to have 50% of all trips in the city taken by walking, biking, or transit rather than automobile by 2020. That target was met in 2015, five years early.

I remember as a kid when Barrie had 15,000 people. In my 20’s I used to cycle most places. I loved cycling so much. Sadly, I don’t cycle anymore. We live in a society that is built around cars with little to no cycling infrastructure. Roads everywhere have gotten so dangerously busy, I take my life in my hands each time I go out on my bike. Image Source

In races there is always that final push to the finish. For Michelle and I, we kept having to slow down during those last 3 kilometers. We didn’t want to show up at City Hall early. To kill more time, we ran a casual loop around Queen’s Park and then worked our way right through downtown Barrie. One block from City Hall we started to pick up the pace a little. A lady on a megaphone was calling out, “The runners are coming in. They have just run fifty kilometers”. People were lined up on each side of Michelle and myself with their cameras and phones taking pictures and videos. Others were cheering and waving signs. It was a precious moment coming in to that finish. I could not have shared this moment with a more wonderful human being than Michelle.

Coming in to the finish. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to run that final day than Michelle Smith. Image by Bob Bruton is part of a wonderful article he wrote on the Monarch Ultra in Barrie Today. This finish was for all the runners who poured heart and soul in to their relay sections over 21 days. It was for the Monarch Ultra team who gave of themselves hundreds upon hundreds of volunteer hours for the project. It was for all the advocates who are making positive change happen for a healthier planet. Plus for all those amazing students at Hillsdale Elementary School. Last, but not least, this finish was for our beloved Monarch butterfly.

It was a cool, rainy late afternoon, and so many people had come out to the reception. They included my sister Linda, her husband Al, and my nephew Tony. Christine, another Twitter follower who I had just met a week earlier at my Hillsdale run meet up was there. And of course, my dear wife, Lynne. I met so many environmental champions at that reception who are working tirelessly and are making a difference. Local politicians Ann-Marie Kungl, Bonnie North and Clare Riepma who work tirelessly for the betterment of our planet. There was Steve Jones who has converted vacant industrial land into these amazing productive vertical gardens for local food security. And 7 year old Morgan from Morgan’s Monarch’s. Morgan with her family’s help collect Monarch eggs off of milkweed along roadways before it gets mowed down. She then raises them through all the stages until they become the mature Monarch butterfly.

So many incredible human beings advocating for change. This is Sandy Agnew of the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition presenting me a certificate from the City Of Barrie.

In the centre is 7 year old Morgan from Morgan’s Monarchs. Please check out her Facebook page. It is amazing.

Morgan reminded me of the children at Hillsdale Elementary School who made the beautiful banners for me. For me running close to 50 kilometers, anything could happen. I did not want to fail these children. There is an old Proverb that goes like this, “We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children”. This advice prods us to consider the future, and not to focus on the present or on the past. Instead of living just for today and gratifying our own immediate needs, we should think about how our current actions will affect the planet and the future generations to come. We cannot fail these children.

So many incredible humans striving for change in this Monarch Ultra photo. Celebrating the end of an epic 1,800 kilometer journey!

A NASA report on Global Climate Change mentions that since 1880 the earth has warmed 1.18 degrees Celsius. Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975. It might not seem like a lot, but it really is. This change is significant because it takes a vast amount of heat to warm all the oceans, atmosphere, and land by that much. In order to grasp how much energy is involved, Humble Energy ran an ad in Life magazine almost 60 years ago bragging that every day they supply enough energy to melt 7 million tons of glacier. That’s just one smaller oil company. Humble Energy is now part of Exxon-Mobil, the 6th largest oil producing (glacier melting) company in the world. World Population Review mentions we are consuming 97 million barrels of oil daily. Each barrel is 46.4 US gallons producing 5,800,000 Btu. Which does not include other non renewable energy sources such as coal or natural gas. This is a major factor in driving the Climate Crises. With all the fossil fuel energy produced by the giant oil corporations, how much ice loss would that equate to? NASA goes on to mention that every year “the earth’s polar ice sheets are shrinking annually by 427 billion metric tons”. Our polar ice sheets are the air conditioners of the planet. But they are quickly shutting down. Scientists have calculated the energy generated required for that magnitude of loss of ice would be equivalent as if five Hiroshima bombs were dropped in the oceans every second. An article in CNN mentions “the amount of heat we have put in the world’s oceans in the past 25 years equals to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atom-bomb explosions”. This is all measured by satellite. Not only are glaciers and polar ice sheets melting, but heat waves are more frequent. There are more wildfires, stronger hurricanes and more catastrophic flooding.

Ad from February 2, 1962 Life Magazine. from Twitter Screenshot Climate Ad Project
Powerful Twitter screenshot from Will Cole-Hamilton. The fire that razed Lytton came the day after it set an all time Canadian heat record of 49.5 degrees Celsius.

It is not just about Global Warming and Climate Change. Even if there were zero emissions tomorrow, humans are terrorizing the natural world, eradicating wildlife, tearing down world forests, destroying wetlands and polluting the oceans, rivers, lakes and very air we breathe. All in the name of profit at all costs. World Wildlife Fund 2018 Living Planet Report reveals that we have killed 60% of all wildlife in the last 40 years. The latest findings from Environmental Research is that exposure to particulate matter from the burning of fossil fuels is responsible for the premature deaths of 1 in 5 people worldwide. We are in a Biodiversity Crises. Scientists predict that on our current trajectory of habitat loss and global warming, between one third and one half of the planet’s 1 million species of plants and animals will vanish forever by the end of this century. I think of my precious grandson. I think of those beautiful children who made the banners for me. What kind of a planet will we as a society be giving back to them?

There is nothing better than a good book. Learning all about the ocean’s amazing creatures. Will these creatures be extinct by the time my grandson becomes my age? My precious grandson lives in New Zealand. I have still not met him yet.
Photo of the precious children with beautiful banner that was made for me. Grade 1 teacher Michelle Read added this caption with this photo and 3 other photos posted on Twitter, “We surprised @canuckcarl with a banner and some pictures with encouraging messages. Have a great run Carl. We love Monarchs and glad you do too.”

After the presentations at the reception for the finish of the Monarch Ultra, I wanted to make sure we got a photo of the children’s banners at the finish. These children are such an inspiration to me. Their school, Hillsdale Elementary School has been involved with what is known as Ecoschools Program for the past 12 years. Kindergarten teacher Lauren MacInnis shared with me “We have been a certified school since 2010. Over the past 12 years, we have received Platinum certification twice (last year was our most recent one) and we have been Gold certified for 9 years.  There was one year a few years back where all Ontario schools received “certified” as we were in contract negotiations.”

Finish line photos with the banner from Michelle Read’s grade 1 class. This photo and the next taken by 2021 Monarch Ultra photographer Rob Steinman. Members of the Monarch Ultra team starting from left is Günther Schubert (team chef and support vehicle driver), myself, my wonderful running partner Michelle Smith, the dynamic project director/cofounder Carlotta James, Carol Pasternak from Monarch Crusaders, race director Jodi McNeill (who also directs Gotta Run Racing) and mapping expert Clay Williams (who mapped out the routes in both 2019 and 2021). Clay also maps out and directs a 700 kilometer relay called Canal Pursuit to end the stigma around mental health.
Banner created by Lauren MacInnis’s kindergarten class.

Including Canada, there are 68 nations involved in Ecoschools programs around the globe. I did a Google search and learned in 2020 there were 14,600 public schools in Canada. In 2020 there was 10,100 elementary schools, 2,600 secondary schools and 2,100 mixed elementary and secondary schools. Of those numbers, in 2020-2021 there was a network 1219 schools (just over 8% of all schools) that participated in the Ecoschools program. Of that number, 747 schools across Canada achieved certification of either bronze, silver, gold or platinum. Schools that began an application but didn’t earn enough points to be certified at the Bronze level are designated as Participants and are welcome to attempt certification again the following year. What an incredible achievement that Hillsdale achieved Ecoschool platinum in 2020-2021. The highest award possible.

I took these 2 photos while helping out at the 2021 Hillsdale Elementary School Grade 8 Graduation. So beautiful to witness lots of bees and butterflies enjoying the pollinator gardens.

There are 43 different actions where participation and how well you achieve those actions all earns different levels of points. In this climate emergency there is so much we can learn from these children. Initiatives such as waste free lunches, refillable water containers, Earth Hour, Earth Day, National Sweater Day all help the environment. The school has an amazing pollinator garden and No-Mow Zone to help our vital pollinators. If it is not raining, every day this fall as I walk by the school coming or going for crosswalk duties I will notice in the distance several outdoor classrooms happening on the school property. Connecting with nature while learning is so powerful. One parent mentioned that my run with the Monarch Ultra was all his grade 1 son talks about. That I am running to save the butterflies.

Images from Grade 1 teacher Michelle Read’s Twitter, I have so much respect for her. Her tweet reads, “So grateful for this amazing space! Our outdoor classroom. #OutsideIsTheBestSide #SoMuchLearningHappensOutside”

The one action that I am sort of involved with the children is in the area of active transportation. An incredibly large percentage of the students who live on the other side of Highway 93 will walk or cycle to school. It is so wonderful to see. For many of those students, their active transportation will amount to travelling over a kilometer each way. Their route involves crossing extremely busy and dangerous Ontario Provincial Highway 93. My role as school crossing guard is to get them across that highway safely. Several things are involved for their safety include a 2 whistle system and setting up 10 bright orange pylons along and in the centre of the highway up to 400 feet both directions from the crosswalk for visibility to traffic. This is a means to try and calm down speeding traffic. As one who is religious on the importance of active transportation instead of car dependency, I am grateful to all the parents who entrust their children to me to get them across that busy highway safely. It creates a healthier planet and healthier children. Whether it is in Hillsdale or any other busy school crossings, school crossing guards are critical for a school’s active transportation program to be successful. If parents do not feel a signalized crossing (aka beg button) across a highway or busy street is safe without a crossing guard, parents will never allow their children to walk or cycle to school.

Photos is taken right where I stand during one of my typical afternoon crosswalk shifts.

Every day through Hillsdale I will see lots of drivers drivers going well over the posted speed limit. And most days I’ll notice at least one driver texting and driving while travelling through Hillsdale during crosswalk hours. Completely oblivious to his or her surroundings. CAA ran a poll to determine what are the greatest road safety concerns of Canadian drivers. Here are the top 10 road safety concerns in order, “Texting or emailing while driving; drinking and driving; drivers running red lights; speeding on residential streets; driving aggressively; sleepy drivers; driving after using illegal drugs; talking on cell phones while driving; driving well over the speed limit; and talking to or engaging with their in-car systems”. These 10 safety concerns puts pedestrians and cyclists in a very vulnerable position as they attempt to cross any busy highway or street. Parachute Canada, a non-profit preventative injury group, say child pedestrian incidents are a leading cause of death for Canadian children under age 14. So parents end up driving their kids to school. When parents end up driving their kids everywhere, including school, the children learn that it is acceptable to drive everywhere. Even short distances. Children then are more likely to develop a sense of car entitlement when they themselves get old enough to drive. That simple action leads to more cars on the road, more highways built and more highway lanes expanded. More urban sprawl, more melting of glaciers and polar ice caps. More air pollution, and more climate change related deaths. Walking and cycling to school is 1 of 43 important actions in the EcoSchool program. In 2020-2021 Hillsdale Elementary School received the the highest award; the platinum award.

This license plate message says it all. Image Source.

In order to achieve a platinum award for the EcoSchools program everyone has to get on board. Teachers, parents, students, librarians, custodians. Even that crossing guard. In takes sacrifice and cooperation from everyone. For parents it means more effort preparing a nutritious waste free lunch, when it is far easier just to purchase a corporate brand manufactured “food like” substance made in a factory. Then after the product is consumed there is the waste to deal with. It means getting the children up, dressed, have breakfast and ready earlier so they have enough time to walk to school. When it would be so much easier to just drive them to school.

Too many people talking about solving the climate crisis are ignoring the bio diversity and collapse of nature that is linked to climate change but also independent of it. Human wanton destruction of the natural world is an equal crisis to that of climate change. Image Source

Five days after my run with the Monarch Ultra that finished in Barrie I had the privilege of speaking to the Barrie Rotary Club. I breezed through 65 slides, talking about the Monarch butterflies epic migration to Mexico, and the Monarch Ultra relays both in 2019 and 2021. I then explained how the actions of humans have brought the numbers of Monarchs to dangerously low levels. We desperately need our pollinators for our own food security. When I shared the photo of the children from Michelle Read’s Grade 1 class with the “Go Carl Go” banner and asked the question “What kind of planet are we passing on to our children and grandchildren?”, And added “These children are trying so hard. We must not fail them,”, it felt like the air was being sucked out of the room. The message had hit home. Afterwards I was bombarded with question after question about how to go about helping the Monarch butterfly populations. The people at Barrie Rotary Club really wanted to take action.

Nature does not need people. It is people who need nature. The survival of our pollinators is critical for food security and the survival of the human race. As a planet that is in a Climate Emergency and a Biodiversity Crises we possess the knowledge to redefine our relationship with the planet. The far biggest issues are human entitlement, greed, our runaway production, consumption and wasteful habits. This fuels the mindset of profit at all costs for those gigantic corporations, even if it means our planet is destroyed in the process. And last but not least, there is often the lack of any moral or ethical compass from our world leaders. We cannot solve a crises until we treat it like a crises. In order to turn things around it will take massive cooperation and sacrifice from everyone. The words of Greta Thunberg who as a 15 year old addressed the politicians at the UN Climate Change conference at Katowice, Poland in December, 2018 speak volumes, “We have not come here to beg the world leaders to care about our future. They have ignored us in the past and they will ignore us again. We have come here to let them know that change is coming whether they like it or not. The people will rise to the challenge. And since our leaders are behaving like children we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.” and “You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”

Retrieved this off of my Twitter feed. Photo has been circulating for a few years. Not sure of the original source.

Categories: EnvironmentTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. WOW! What a run for a wonderful cause! Well done, Carl, Michelle and Kris!
    You and Michelle look so happy in that finisher photo by Bob Bruton. I’m so happy the Barrie News published an article about the Monarch Ultra – the more the news spreads, the better!

    I love that the Hillsdale Elementary School is involved in an Ecoschools Program and that the teachers promote awareness for nature in their pupils. That banner is amazing!!
    So nice of you to make sure to get a photo with it at the finish line!

    I like how you highlight the urgency of taking care of our planet, Carl. As you so rightly say, nature doesn’t need us. We need a functioning planet with healthy nature – especially for our children like your precious grandson in New Zealand.

    I wonder what will become of the COP26 conference in Glasgow. At least the political leaders are starting to see the urgent need for a change. It’s important that they prioritize this over economic growth. There is hope – and people like you and the people around you are so crucial in raising awareness.

    Well done, Carl, and please keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Catrina. Michelle is amazing. It was so much fun running with her. Am so glad we got news coverage. I myself brought the event to the attention of a lot of different news sources. Still so much coverage on COVID, I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to show. The banners were in the support vehicle which was maybe a couple hundred meters away. That was kind of the Monarch Ultra crew to go over for the photos at the end. It was important to me.

      Yeah, I feel a real urgency Catrina. I have been reading about Guillermo Fernandez, the 47-year-old Swiss former IT programmer and father of 3 who quit his job to go on a hunger strike from Nov. 1 — the day after the start of the Glasgow COP26 Climate Summit. I did not realize that temperatures in Switzerland are rising at around twice the global rate. It is causing the glaciers there to melt at an unprecedented rate. He is prepared to die. I really do hope there will be positive things happen and that countries follow through with the environmental decisions. Thanks again, Catrina. 🌎🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a wonderful cause and good for you to bring awareness to your readers. The banner is a beautiful gift.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Sue. I appreciate this. I love unrolling the banner and seeing all the children’s amazing artwork! 😀 🖍

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Carl,

        Again, one of your amazing articles with so much interesting little episodes and themes involved.

        First of all, congratulations on having finished the run for a good cause. It looks that the trail is somehow intertwined with the Appalachian Trail, could this be?

        Second of all, having to cross a highway is certainly a dangerous challenge…glad you made it….:-)

        Thirdly, if find it beautiful how you bring two aspects into your article, the cause for children and as usual your ambitious calling for environmental protection, and this so thoughtfully, and full of heart…very beautiful to read.

        We are really at a point where we have to fight with all means against the descruction of the environment in all parts of the world. It seems that people will never learn from their mistakes, according to the garbage which I find lying around every day on trails and in the forest. Every single one of us has to act, we can not wait for any governments.

        As we had Christmas Eve here we only used plastic bits to wrap and decorate the few gifts we exchanged. I should have made pictures, how a plastic bag cut was used as a bow on top of a giftpaper from old bakery paper, and the ribbon was a plastic net from oranges cut into stripes….it looked awsome and very artistic.

        I always enjoy reading your articles….they should be published in the Toronto Star 🙂

        I keep on running, come rain, come snow,….and I have my trainingsplan set up for 2022 to get to your level….:-)

        Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and a healthy, spiritual New Year 2022 with lots of fantastic runs and more fantastic articles of yours.

        Peace and light


        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Ginger,

        Wow! Thank you so much for reading and for sharing such a generous comment. You are always so caring and encouraging. The type of forest on my run is quite similar to that of the Appalachian Trail, so I can understand how you would have felt there was an intertwining. The closest the Appalachian comes is about 600 kilometers to the east. I’ve only actually hiked around 10 kilometers of it, about 40 years ago when I was in that region. I’ve always dreamed of hiking it end to end, but not sure now at 63 if it will happen.

        Those children are such an inspiration to me. I really do hope people act on lifestyle changes to help our planet for the generations to come. Such a creative thing to do for Christmas decorations, Ginger. I love this and glad you shared this with me.

        You are way ahead of me for 2022. Still not sure what I want to aim for. I do have a car (a little Prius), but I am really trying to find a trail ultra without the Car Dependency. One of the things we need to do for this planet is drive less, do more active transportation like cycling and walking and use public transit more. I love the concept of the races Catrina runs in Switzerland where you ride the train to the race. And the race starts at the train station. There just isn’t anything like this in Canada, but I’m still searching.

        Had a great Christmas, hope you did as well. Wishing you an amazing 2022. Thanks again, Ginger! 🙂



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