In the third week of February, a relay team of five endurance runners will cover the entire length of Vancouver Island, starting from Port Hardy on February 16, and arriving at the Langford Legion on February 21.
The run is called the Wounded Warrior Run BC (WWRBC), and is an undertaking done under the umbrella of Wounded Warriors Canada. The mandate of this non-profit organization is to “help any Veteran in need as they transition to civilian life.” They will “help Canadian Forces members — be they full time or reservists, or retired — who have been wounded or injured in their service to Canada.” Both WWC and WWRBC are independently run, and are in no way affiliated with the Canadian military.
This Island-long run was conceived to both raise money for WWC and to raise awareness of the the private programs that exist to help those veterans who need it. This includes all veterans, old and young, as well as anyone currently serving in the military.
Allan Kobayashi from Victoria is the creator of the concept as well as the team captain. As a military man currently working for the navy, and as a person effectively dealing with his PTSD, Kobayashi wanted to give something back to his fellow military members. Together with a friend, he conceived the idea of running the island, relay style.
“I was diagnosed with PTSD (post-tramautic stress disorder) and OSI (Operational Stress Injuries) in 2006,” explains Kobayashi. He has been with the military for 17 years and counting, and has done multiple tours including in Kosovo and Afghanistan.
Running has been therapeutic for Kobayashi. “For me, running has always been an outlet.” He’s been running for about 10 years, and has gotten even more serious over the past two or three years.
“Running was the way I could deal with the daily stresses and anxieties and everything else, and there was my outlet. … It just became my medicine, my medication.”
This particular fund-raising run will be gruelling. “The WWRBC team will run the entire length of Vancouver Island, from Port Hardy to Esquimalt spanning a distance in excess of 600 km in six days,” details Kobayashi, “Each athlete will run a total of one-and-a-half to two hours daily in relay style, averaging 30 to 60 km per day.”
The relay team will visit the Royal Canadian Legion branches along the planned route, as the Legions serve as a central donation collection point — and the hub for community relations.
At present, Sooke is not included on the route or in the run.
“I have many friends in Sooke, unfortunately none are going to be participating in this years event,” said Kobayashi. “Who knows what next year will bring! However that being said, because so many military families reside in Sooke I really wanted to get the word out about the Wounded Warrior Run BC.”
All the proceeds will be donated to WWC. For it has been WWC that provided him with the education about PTSD. “They kind of fill the gap of the void that people feel that may be there, that they do not have access to.”
“My big goal,” he continues, “is about alleviating the dark cloud and the stigma that surrounds post-traumatic stress disorder.” Kobayashi wants to put the information out there, informing people that it’s not a disorder exclusive to the military, and that any trauma can leave its mark. It doesn’t discriminate.
For now, with the support of his friends and sponsors, he and his team will run the length of the Island specifically to raise funds for Wounded Warriors, and generally to education people about PTSD.
If you wish to donate to the Vancouver Island campaign or otherwise support the runners and their cause, visit http://woundedwarriorrunbc.com
For more information about the services offered by WWC, visit their website at WoundedWarriors.ca