Run with the butterflies during the Monarch Ultra Relay Run this fall

Runner registration opens April 5 for the 4,300-kilometre journey from Peterborough to Mexico raising pollinator awareness

A runner trains at the Trent Wildlife Sanctuary in Peterborough for the Monarch Ultra, which is a 4,300-kilometre relay run through Canada, the U.S., and Mexico taking place from September 19 to November 4, 2019. Runner registration beings on April 5, 2019. (Photo: Rodney Fuentes)
A runner trains at the Trent Wildlife Sanctuary in Peterborough for the Monarch Ultra, which is a 4,300-kilometre relay run through Canada, the U.S., and Mexico taking place from September 19 to November 4, 2019. Runner registration beings on April 5, 2019. (Photo: Rodney Fuentes)

Do you want to run with the butterflies?

Every fall, monarch butterflies migrate thousands of kilometres from Canada to Mexico — and a group of ultra-runners is going to make the same journey this fall.

Registration officially opens on Friday (April 5th) for the Monarch Ultra Relay Run, with 100 runners participating in the run that departs Peterborough on September 19, 2019 — when the monarch butterflies begin their migration south — for an epic 4,300-kilmoetre adventure to the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico.

The Monarch Ultra is the first attempt to run across Canada, the U.S., and Mexico to raise awareness of the resiliency of monarch butterflies, who make the migratory journey every year and whose populations are in decline largely because of human impact on the environment.

Carlotta James, Rodney Fuentes, and Clay Williams have organized the Monarch Ultra Relay Run to raise awareness of the threats facing the monarch butterfly and other pollinators. (Photo: Rodney Fuentes)
Carlotta James, Rodney Fuentes, and Clay Williams have organized the Monarch Ultra Relay Run to raise awareness of the threats facing the monarch butterfly and other pollinators. (Photo: Rodney Fuentes)

“This multi-day running adventure invites runners to traverse wild and remote landscapes as well as populated urban areas, while building camaraderie, overcoming adversity and sharing a singular adventure with monarch butterflies,” says Carlotta James, co-founder and project director of the Monarch Ultra Relay Run.

A life-long runner, James is also co-founder of the Peterborough Pollinators, a grassroots citizen-led group working together to meet the challenge of declining pollinator populations.

The Monarch Ultra Relay Run will pass through hundreds of municipalities in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, including Toronto, Detroit, Fort Wayne, Cape Girardeau, Little Rock, Texarkana, Dallas, San Antonio, Reynosa, San Luis Potosi, Queretaro, and Macheros — where the runners will finally arrive at the Cerro Pelon Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary near Zitácuaro on November 4, 2019.

The route of the Monarch Ultra Relay Run. (Photo: Clay Williams)
The route of the Monarch Ultra Relay Run. (Photo: Clay Williams)

“Each runner will run distances of 50 or 100 kilometres through a diversity of landscapes including mountain paths, forests, meadows, deserts, and cities,” says run director and mapping expert Clay Williams.

A team of filmmakers and pollinator advocates will accompany the runners, filming a documentary on the flight of the monarch butterfly, the relay run, and the conservation efforts taking place across the continent during the event.

“At the heart of the Monarch Ultra is a story about our connection to the land and the beauty, resiliency, and strength of the runners and the people they will meet along the way, amplified even more by the monarch migration,” says director and cinematographer Rodney Fuentes.

A monarch butterfly at the Cerro Pelon Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Mexico, the final destination for the 4,300-kilometre Monarch Ultra Relay Run taking place in fall 2019. (Photo: Rodney Fuentes)
A monarch butterfly at the Cerro Pelon Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Mexico, the final destination for the 4,300-kilometre Monarch Ultra Relay Run taking place in fall 2019. (Photo: Rodney Fuentes)

Since initiating the Monarch Ultra project last October, the team has been connecting with conservation organizations across North America to support their work at the local and international level.

“These partnerships have deepened our understanding on the issues monarchs and other pollinators face,” James says, “as well as provided guidance on the ways to support biodiversity and wildlife habitat that is essential to the survival of pollinator populations.”

The global partnerships include: Bee City Canada, Monarch City USA, Monarch Joint Venture, David Suzuki Foundation, Butterflies and Their People, Ecosistemica AC, Environmental Concern, Monarch: A Living Resort, Save Our Monarchs Foundation, Little River Wetlands Project, and the National Butterfly Centre.

VIDEO: Join the flight of the monarchs

The team will also include “Monarch Ambassadors” who will help to ensure the project’s success by reaching a broad audience, promoting meaningful dialogue at the local level, and supporting the logistics of the relay run.

“This is an opportunity to connect communities in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico with common goals of earth stewardship and biodiversity conservation,” James explains.

Aside from participating in the Monarch Ultra as a runner, you can sponsor the project or volunteer support the runners and the team when they are in your city.

To register as a runner for the Monarch Ultra, visit raceroster.com/events/2019/22355/the-monarch-ultra.

For more information on the Monarch Ultra, including other ways to get involved, visit www.themonarchultra.com.

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