Running Flat

More than 2,000 participants participate in Canada D’Eh Run

 

By Jonathan Martin

 

More than 2,000 runners braved the blistering heat this past Sunday to compete in the nation’s largest five kilometre Canada Day (or Canada D’Eh) run.

The heat soared to 43 degrees with humidex, which earned a warning from Environment Canada and the declaration of an “extreme heat event.”

Runners were sprayed down by Amherstburg firefighters as they passed and 1,700 free bottles of water were available, according to race director Chris Uszynski.

Over 2,000 people participated in the Canada D’Eh 5K run/walk. Runners return to the finish line down Laird Ave.

The Canada D’Eh Run/Walk was broken up into four divisions: the kids’ 500 metre race, the kids’ one kilometre race, the five kilometre walk and the five kilometre run.  Each participant who finished their respective race earned themselves a finishers’ medal depicting an influential Canadian chosen by participant vote.  This year, the medal featured the Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie.

Uszynski said he conceived of the race as a Canadian response to the American Independence Day run. His company, RunningFlat, also organizes runs across the border and in multiple cities throughout Canada.

“When I first came up with the idea, it was sort of like the fourth of July without the blue,” he said.  “It was supposed to be red and white and all patriotic, because as Canadians, we’re really (bad) at that.”

As a show of his Canuck patriotism, Uszynski also organized what he says Costco Wholesale Corporation described as “the largest and most patriotic purchase of the day in Canada,” by providing 4,000 maple leaf cookies and 1,700 butter tarts to Canada D’Eh runners.

The Canada D’Eh kids dash makes its way through Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada.

Uszynski said both Amherstburg residents and municipal employees also showed their love of the country.  Several town councilors and Mayor Aldo DiCarlo himself handed out the runners’ medals and Uszynski thanked residents who live by Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada, where the race kicked off and ended, for being so accepting of the noise level.

“We started blasting music pretty early on a holiday,” Uszynski joked.  The town’s bylaw governing noise levels was lifted for the day.

In all, Uszynski said the day was “a great success,” though he added that he wishes Amherstburg had more hotels.

“Hotels! Hotels! Hotels!” he chanted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gord Downie Medal to be presented to Canada D’Eh Run participants

 

 

Special to the RTT

 

The largest run in Canada ON Canada Day has just been given even greater patriotic status.

Running Flat announced today that Gordon Downie will be featured on the medal to honor Downie as the “Great Canadian.”

The Canada D’Eh Run is the largest and most bombastic patriotic Canada Day Run in Canada.

It’s also the only run that has its participants choose what Canadian will get the honor of being on this medal – known as one of the great medals of running in Canada.

The Canada D’Eh runners and walkers from last year chose from Don Cherry, David Suzuki and Gordon Downie.

“Downie is such an amazing choice for our race and for society right now – he truly represented deep Canadian values and he was a strong advocate for the environment and Aboriginal issues,” says Uszynski.   “And this race has become known around the world.”

Uszynski said “this is the only open source medal in the running world giving the runners all the choice on who to honour and allowing anyone to sign up and register virtually. Up until June 1, 2018 someone from anywhere in the world can register and get their ‘Great Canadian Medal,’ Canada D’Eh Run shirt, and bib so you can run July.”

Uszynski says there are groups of people from Germany, Singapore, U.S. and around Canada who have registered every year.

On July 1, there will be an estimated 3,000 participants set to Run or Walk 5K in an all red and white celebration.

Prior ‘Great Canadians’ featured on the medal were Sir John A. MacDonald in 2013, Terry Fox in 2014, Commander Chris Hadfield in 2015, Wayne Gretzky in 2016 and the Mirror Medal (you are the reason Canada is so great) 150 Medal last year.

The patriotic 5K run and Kid’s Dash starts at 9 a.m. just outside of Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada – the headquarters for the British forces in southwestern Upper Canada during the War of 1812 – and continues up Laird Ave., around Toddy Jones Park, down Dalhousie St. and back.

Runners will also receive a Canadian full color sublimated tech maple leaf shirt, with the original Moose art of Madison Young so they can proudly wear their shirt long after they finish the race.

Money raised by participants is going to fund the great work of the Canadian Cancer Society, a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer.

RunningFlat produces high value endurance events in Canada and the United State since 2007 including such brands as I RAN THE D, Hockeytown 5K, Le Chocolat, Pelee Island Winery Half Marathon and Canada D’Eh Run.

Visit www.runningflat.com for more information about RunningFlat and podcasts of past shows as well as registration and pricing.

 

Canada D’Eh Run kicks off July 1 celebrations

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

“This is where history began, and this is where this run deserves to be.”

Canada D'eh Run-11WEB
Chris Uszynski started the Canada D’Eh run in Amherstburg five years ago, working with RunningFlat and has grown the event to become to largest Canada Day race, on Canada Day, in all of Canada. His work with running flat has named him the race director luminary award of the year from Athletics Canada.

“We have people as far as Vancouver here, all to kick off Canada Day with the beautiful Fort behind us. It’s really an iconic race,” said Uszynski. “I love the town of Amherstburg, I’ve been here for 26 years, I’m not a lifer, I’m a transplant but I’ve always loved this community. I think there’s so much to offer. It’s a wonderful community. I’ve raised two kids here, I wouldn’t do it anywhere else. “

Canada D'eh Run-13

Amherstburg mayor Aldo DiCarlo said he’s incredibly grateful to Uszynski for bringing this event to Amherstburg and keeping it in the town year after year.

“Running Flat put on an amazing show here,” said DiCarlo.
When questioned about why he doesn’t run in the race, DiCarlo’s answer was comical.
“I got close this year, I really did,” he joked. “As I always say, my favorite joke, only time I run is when someone is chasing me so if you see me running you’d better start running too.”

 

Top male finishers of the 5km race included:

Ryan Allison, age 36 from Belle River – 17:14
Owen Martin, age 15 from Harrow – 17:53
Ivo Oljacic, age 51 from Windsor – 18:09

Top female finishers of the 5km race included:

Tori Bouck, age 16 from London – 18:51
Blaire Kniaziew Gervais, age 40 from Windsor – 19:48
Alyssa McKinkley, age 26 from Windsor – 21:13

 

“We do this run every year, since before our son was born and he’s participated in the kids’ dash every year and it’s just a fun family exciting thing to do on Canada Day,” said second place female finishers, Kniaziew Gervais. “He looks forward to it every year. ‘Are we doing the Canada Day run mummy?’ We will continue to family tradition. It’s the only one around and Chris does an amazing job with the race and it’s very family friendly”

For just a 23-minute race with her 10-year-old nephew, Patricia Kriz came all the way from London just to participate in the run first thing in the morning, before heading back home for her own town celebrations.

Canada D'eh Run-17

“It’s Canada Day, I’m a proud Canadian,” said Kriz. “This is a great race, a great event, my nephew is from Lakeshore so it’s a great opportunity for us to run together.”

For more information on other RunningFlat races, visit runningflat.com.

Roughly 1,500 participate in Canada D’Eh run/walk

 

Runners leave from the starting area during the 5K run/walk last Friday morning.

Runners leave from the starting area during the 5K run/walk last Friday morning.

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The streets of Amherstburg were busy Friday morning with running being the main form of transportation.

The annual Canada D’Eh run/walk, presented by Running Flat, got Canada Day festivities kicked off in Amherstburg. About 1,200 took place in the main 5K run/walk with the children that took part in the “kids dash” and a 1K race bringing the overall total to 1,500.

Race director Chris Uszynski said there were “virtual runs” as well, with runners in other countries taking part complete with shirt and Canada D’Eh run medal. He used a group of runners in Germany as an example, as they signed up and ran there but still got their shirt and medal.

This year’s “Great Canadian” featured on the medal was Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky.

“It’s Canada Day. It’s really an incredible time and a great event,” said Uszynski. “People love starting the day doing this.”
Uszynski stated that participants not only came from the Windsor-Essex County area, but from all over North America to take part. He said they were able to enjoy their day in Amherstburg after the run/walk.

A family that participated in the 1K portion of the Canada D'Eh run/walk approach the finish line in patriotic fashion.

A family that participated in the 1K portion of the Canada D’Eh run/walk approach the finish line in patriotic fashion.

Rain early Friday morning slowed down the set up of the event but the weather cleared by the race’s start.

Running Flat teams with Libro Credit Union on the run/walk, with Uszynski stating participants picked up their race kits the day before at the credit union thus helping to streamline things Friday morning. By having participants picking up their race kits Thursday, it brought more traffic to town, he added.

The race is the largest Canada Day run/walk in the nation, Uszynski added, though noted other races will have larger urban centres from which to draw from particularly when the race is held on a Saturday next year.

“I’m willing to take on that challenge,” said Uszynski.

For more information on races put on by Running Flat, visit their website..

2015 Run for Heroes event to be final one in Amherstburg

 

Competitors in the 2014 Run for Heroes Marathon run through the starting line at the Libro Credit Union Centre. Photo by: Adam D’Andrea.

Competitors in the 2014 Run for Heroes Marathon run through the starting line at the Libro Credit Union Centre. Photo by: Adam D’Andrea.

By Ron Giofu

 

The Run for Heroes race event will be held in Amherstburg next month but don’t look for the event to return to Amherstburg in 2016.

The event – presented by Running Flat – will see a 5K run, a 5K walk, a 10K run and 10K walk, a kids marathon, and the half-marathon start and finish at the Libro Centre Sept. 20 but race director Chris Uszynski noted it will be the last one staged in Amherstburg.

The decision was a difficult one for Uszynski and his family, given the race has been a fundraiser for the Alzheimer Society of Windsor-Essex County. Uzsynski’s father had Alzheimer’s Disease and his mother was the primary caregiver for many years.

“We created this event, we nurtured it, we babied it and we developed it from its infancy,” said Uszynski.

While the decision was announced last week, Uszynski said he and his Running Flat team have been debating it for a good portion of this year.

“It’s been tearing me up for weeks,” he said. “It’s deeply personal. This race is named after my mom. We put everything we have into this.”

The event started as the World Alzheimer’s Day Ultra-Marathon with a 69K run in 2007, an 88K run in 2008 and 100K runs in 2009 and 2010, all ending in Amherstburg. It was turned into the Run for Heroes Marathon in 2011 but high costs of staging a full 42K marathon caused that particular race to be shelved after the 2014 event, though the smaller races will be run one more time this year.

“This event wasn’t for the runners in Amherstburg, it was for the citizens of Amherstburg to show off the town,” said Uszynski.

Uszynski estimates that over 6,000 participants have come to Amherstburg along with friends and family, many of whom come from places at least 90 minutes away. He said the region gained $2.8 million in economic activity over the past four years with runners coming from all over Canada and 30 U.S. states.

A lack of sponsorship dollars has been one of the factors causing the race to shut down locally. Unsure whether it is the local economy causing sponsorship dollars to be tight or whether it is people and companies not seeing a value in the race, Uszynski said it is tough to get sponsorship dollars in the region for this race.

“It’s not for a lack of trying,” he said. “We’ve met with some corporate offices in Toronto trying to get them to sponsor events down here and they won’t do it.”

Local businesses have been giving their sponsorship dollars to other organizations or causes, he added, with five water station sponsors being lost for this year’s event.

In a smaller market like Amherstburg, Uszynski said they need roughly $30-35,000 in sponsorships.

“We don’t get government funding,” he said. “We are a private corporation because of the liability of what we do.”

Another challenge of staging the race in Amherstburg is accommodations. With five bed and breakfasts and a campground listed in the town’s tourist guide, Uszynski said that leads participants to Windsor where they are 30 minutes away from the race and question whether it is worth coming.

“For most, not really,” he said.

Uszynski has long been a proponent of the town developing a billeting program and has appeared before council in the past asking for help developing such a program. He believes it is a great experience to come into a community and be welcomed and it would be a great experience for Amherstburg residents to meet new people.

“The biggest issue for runners is ‘where do we stay?’” he said. “For four years we’ve been talking to council. “It’s the same issue over and over and over again.”

According to Uszynski, billeting is “very common” at large events like the Olympics, Ironman or Commonwealth Games as hotels can’t handle the volume of people coming in. He believes a smaller scale program could work in Amherstburg.

“The issue is do you want the senior games, do you want the large hockey tournaments and do you want the large soccer tournaments?” he said. “We have to develop a system to billet.”

The race has been promoted in Runner’s World magazine, on Good Morning America and the Today Show, he said. It was marketed as “Canada’s Most Southern Boston Marathon qualifier” and as the fastest and flattest course in the world.

“This was always a world class even people showed up to in a small town,” he said. “This is going to be a huge missed opportunity for the community going forward. It’s a great event for this town but we just can’t make it work.”

Uszynski said he is “always willing to talk to anyone” but they can’t keep presenting the race in town under the current circumstances.

“We live here, we love the town and we’d like to see everything continue but this is the last year for it,” he said. “It is what it is. I can’t sit here and make excuses.”

There are no current plans to take the Run for Heroes event anywhere else, but Uszynski is leaving the door open for just such a possibility. He said Running Flat owns the trademark and the race itself and believes they could field phone calls from other areas requesting the race come to their region.

“Once the word gets out there this is the last year, we’ll get lots of phone calls,” he predicted.

People can still sign up for this year’s Run for Heroes event or any of Running Flat’s other runs by visiting www.runningflat.com. Uszynski said Running Flat isn’t leaving Amherstburg entirely, as the Canada D’Eh 5K run/walk will still be staged locally.

“We’ll continue to do Canada Day in the town,” he said.

Uszynski said this year’s race was the largest Canada Day race in the nation, and estimated 2,500 people came to town including participants and their friends and family.

“They were from everywhere,” he said.