Running a half marathon (21 kilometres) is a tall task for anyone, and a distance that long is usually completely avoided by most people. Even a smaller 5 kilometre run can be a challenge. Running is difficult enough to begin with, but three Strathmore firefighters will be adding another challenge on top of it: they'll be running a half marathon in their fire gear!

Katelyn Redekopp, Rebekah Voisin, and Alaine Sharpe will all be taking part in the First Responder's Half Marathon in Calgary on October 23. The run is raising awareness for mental health, and runners are also raising funds to donate to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Redekopp is looking forward to running alongside fellow first responders for a good cause.

"Aside from just loving running in general, for me, it's just more of a reason to support our department. Mental health is one of those things that no one really talked about several years ago, but it's becoming something that's more top of mind now. So just trying to support not only our department, but first responders in general and then just solidifying our commitment to being emergency workers," she said. 

Voisin feels the same way, noting that mental health is something many people struggle with, and it's important to raise awareness and talk about it

"I’m running and wearing the gear in order to honour those that are no longer with us and to honour and reflect on my own struggles with mental health and how far I’ve come." 

Voisin said the full equipment adds around 50 pounds of extra weight, and 75 when you're carrying all of your tools. She feels that running in the gear is a good metaphor for the difficulties some people face.

"Running in bunker gear is pretty symbolic of the weight of struggling with mental health. We’re lucky because at the end of this race we get to remove the weight and stress from our bodies and return to feeling like ourselves. It’s not so easy with the weight of mental health."

While the weight of the gear will definitely make things more challenging, Redekopp says this won't be the biggest obstacle to overcome.

"It'll be the heat that's the challenge because it gets pretty hot.  At the very least it'll be done in late October so hopefully, it's a bit of a cooler day." 

While it's a run for first responders, anyone can sign up! There are several options, like the 5K, 10K, and half marathon. You don't have to wear first responder gear if you're just running to support them, anyone is welcome. 

Redekopp said running with the responders is a great way to support them, but just being there to cheer them on would be wonderful as well.  For those who are able to assist with a donation for any of the three runners representing Strathmore visit the below links:

Rebekah Voisin:

Katelyn Redekopp:

Alaine Sharpe:

While donations go to each firefighter's individual fundraiser total,  all the funds raised go to the Canadian Mental Health Association. Collectively, they've raised $2200 so far.

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