Running in circles usually isn’t a good thing. But, for Sergeant Andrew McLean, it just made sense.
The 8 Wing Trenton search and rescue technician took on the 8 Wing Pedometer Challenge, and in less than 24 hours had finished the 172 kilometres
Canadian Forces members who lose their lives while on duty overseas make the final journey home along the highway. They are repatriated to 8 Wing Trenton and then travel along the highway to the coroner’s office in Toronto.
Sgt McLean ran most of the distance along the 8 Wing fitness trail and after running through the night with the support of friends and the military community, he finished off the last seven kilometres running around the flightline along with the rest of 8 Wing at its Red Run.
Sgt McLean says he did the run to promote awareness of personnel and family support services, of their morale and welfare programs; and to promote the Military Family Resource Centres.
“As a Canadian Forces member you have the responsibility to know what’s out there,” says Sgt McLean, “It might not be a program for you, but you might be able to direct someone you know to the right services. Not enough people know what’s available. If you know what’s out there, sometimes it’ll help a friend or co-worker.”
Sgt McLean says completing the challenge all at once brings more attention to the cause.
“I’ve been an Ultrarunner for 17 years. Sometimes it’s a way to get people to look a little closer. You’re doing something a little extra, a little out of the ordinary.”
The run is also raising awareness of fitness in the Canadian Forces. The challenge of running 172 kilometres wasn’t daunting for Sgt McLean, named Canada’s Ultrarunner of the year in 2007. In August 2007, Sgt McLean finished 23rd in the World 24 Hour Running Championships; he’s also been the Canadian 24 Hour Running Champion for two years.
“It’s just what I do.” Sgt McLean says, “But I don’t do them just to go out and do them.”
Sgt McLean has also used running to raise awareness for the Soldier On Program, which is designed to support sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen, both serving and retired, and their eligible dependants with a physical or mental disability, to fully and actively participate in physical activity, recreation or sports. McLean was presented with the King Clancy Award in February for his work with Soldier On.
“The Red Run is also saying thanks to Canadians who help support the Canadian Forces,
.” Sgt McLean adds. “The Highway of Heroes, it’s in Ontario, but it could be anywhere and it would still command the same respect from all Canadians.”