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Winnipeg runner hitting the hill to help others get over theirs

Winnipeg community runners have set a goal to run 100 km over 12 hours with hope to raise awareness around mental health and 'take stigma to the trash.'

In the first year, Junel Malapad ran 45 km for mental health awareness. Last year, he cranked up the mileage and hit 100 km in about 16 hours. This year he'll try for the same distance in even less time.

Junel Malapad/ Facebook

In the first year, Junel Malapad ran 45 km for mental health awareness. Last year, he cranked up the mileage and hit 100 km in about 16 hours. This year he'll try for the same distance in even less time.

One of Winnipeg’s many selfless runners is putting rubber to the road for a cause he believes in, by “taking stigma to the trash”—again.

For the third year, Junel Malapad is preparing to lace up for a 12-hour mental health awareness run, during which he’ll attempt to string together 100 km by running back and forth over Winnipeg’s Garbage Hill.

Malapad, who will run a 150-mile race in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday on July 1, explained many local runners do their hill training at the site of his annual stand against stigma, because “it makes them stronger,” he said.

In much the same way he and other runners lay the foundation to overcome mid-race ‘hills’ on Garbage Hill, he said Friday’s event is similarly about lining things up to help “smooth over life’s little bumps.”

“My biggest goal is helping out the Canadian Mental Health Association,” Malapad said, noting the past two iterations of the event have directed more than $10,000 in funds to the organization.

The event's proceeds will support the Mental Illness Literacy Education 5-day speakers program (MILE5) and the Building Futures no-cost counselling service for youth.

Malapad emphatically added that what began originally as a personal quest has evolved to include many other runners in the past, and this year will be no exception.

“Last year it was a great day, people came out not just from the running community, but there were people walking, people sharing their own stories, doing their thing to lessen stigma,” he said. “(This year) along the way some of my friends will be participating, doing as much as they can, seeing how far they can go for mental illness.”

In addition to some of Malapad’s usual running buddies, he’ll be joined by the very active and enthusiastic members of the November Project workout crew and Pure Lifestyle Winnipeg, with the latter group having pledged $20 for every lap their members run.

The growing event will also feature a food station, porta-potties, and post-run yoga on the top of the hill.

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