Run for Water an event for all ages

Annual fundraiser in Abbotsford boosts awareness of the water crisis in Africa.

Runners take off in last year’s Run for Water

Runners take off in last year’s Run for Water

Five years ago a small group of friends put on the first Run for Water in Abbotsford to raise social awareness for the water crisis in Africa.

“When over 600 runners come out, it set off a spark in most of us to continue to grow Run for Water into a premiere running event that brings our community together while helping the people in the forgotten regions of Ethiopia,” said founding board member Ken Baerg.

Run for Water returns May 27. The family-friendly running event, the largest event of its kind in B.C., is projecting more than 4,000 participants.

Supported by hundreds of volunteers, families and runners can participate in a five-kilometre, 10-km, a half or full marathon as well as the inaugural ultra marathon consisting of a 55K run through Discovery Trail. Families can enjoy face painting, balloon artists, bouncy castles and rock climbing walls.

The ultra marathon will be led by famous adventure runner Ray Zahab, who stars in the documentary “Running the Sahara.”

Teachers are getting ready to share a specially developed curriculum on the water crisis in Africa, developed for Run for Water under a grant by Envision Financial.

“We have over 20 schools who are going to go through the lesson plans where students will learn about girls their age who walk for water instead of go to school,” said Betty Baerg, the run’s education director.

“Last year, the students connected so much to these girls that they raised over $35,000 for the cause. That was enough for one village to receive a water system, and the girls in that village are now in school.”

Any participating school can host a mini Run for Water on their campus in the weeks leading up to the run, with the support of Run for Water staff.

The 10K, half and full marathon routes start and finish in Mill Lake Park.

The Boston-qualifying marathon will be the crown jewel of Run for Water.

“We have what has been called the flattest and fastest marathon route in Western Canada,” race director Kelly Neumann said. “Because the marathon is Boston-qualifying and we have a mild climate, we look for our numbers to climb based on the success of last year’s inaugural marathon.”

For more information, go to  runforwater.ca or email info@runforwater.ca.