A group of runners in red shirts and black bottoms run along a road next to a lake. The weather is not very good.

Photo Credit: John Penner / Alberni Valley News

Running 600 km for Wounded Warriors

The run raises money for programs that support military personnel and first responders

Sometimes the heroes in our lives need a hero themselves

It can be hard to know what to do when your loved ones struggle with their mental health–especially when those loved ones seem strong. Even heroic.

Two services members wanted to do something—anything—after a rash of suicides in the Canadian Armed Forces. Soldiers, pilots, and sailors with mental health struggles were ending their own lives.

So they started the Wounded Warriors Run to raise awareness and money for programs that support military personnel and first responders. Folks have been running ever since.

After a one-year break because of COVID, the ninth annual Wounded Warrior Run kicked off in Port Hardy on February 28. A team of eight runners will run relay-style down the length of VanIsle and finish in Victoria on Sunday, March 6. Each runner runs every day, but the distance each person covers changes depending on that day’s schedule.

It’s a 600 km run. The stretch over the Hump into Port Alberni is one of the longest, toughest sections. Two Port Alberni first responders are part of this year’s team.

Maria Marciano is a constable with the Port Alberni RCMP. This is her third time joining the Wounded Warriors team. Her run is personal. She lost a close colleague in 2019 after he had a mental health crisis.

“I want the people I work with every single day to know there’s help out there and where to go for that help,” Marciano told Alberni Valley News.

Her Wounded Warriors partner, Dave Nesbitt, has been training by running mountain trails in the Alberni Valley. He’s been a first responder with the Canadian Coast Guard for more than 20 years. He’s also dealt with his own post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Nesbitt said it is important to keep talking about mental health. It can be uncomfortable for folks to talk about, but it can save lives.

“We’re all in this together. Don’t be afraid to speak out,” he told Alberni Valley News.

The goal of this year’s run is to raise $250,000 for mental health programs. You can watch the runners come into Port Alberni around 4:30 on Thursday, March 3. Marciano and Nesbitt will run together down Johnston Road and into town if all goes well.

You can help raise money by going for your own run. You can also donate from the comfort of your couch.

Or you can raise money by eating spaghetti at the Legion. But you’d better be quick. Tickets are going fast.

A map of the Wounded Warrior run with the dates for each city.
The route map for this year’s Wounded Warriors Run.