Runners around the world are rallying to raise money for victims of the devastating bush fires in Australia, and that includes at least two events in the Denver area.
Australian ultrarunner Samantha Gash has co-created an international “Relief Run,” inviting runners around the world to participate on the weekend of Jan. 18-19 by running a half marathon or 5K. The cost of registration in the virtual event is $50, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund.
Participants can run their virtual races by themselves or hook up with community runs. As of Wednesday afternoon, 4,435 runners had entered, raising 256,000 Australian dollars ($177,000 U.S.).
Denver community runs for the relief effort include one starting at the Berkeley Running Co., and another in City Park. Both are set for Jan. 18.
“Like most people following this, it’s really stressful to watch from afar the destruction that’s happening and not feel like you can do anything to help because it’s so far away,” said Amy Woolridge, co-founder of the Citius RC running club, which is organizing the event starting and finishing at the Berkeley Running Co. “Even if it’s in your backyard, it’s really hard to feel like you can make a difference. I love to run, and I love my running community. When I saw my running community globally was doing this, I thought it’s something we can do and feel like you’re making a small impact.”
Gash has a history of using running for fundraising. She ran non-stop across Australia’s Simpson Desert in 2012 to raise money for a children’s education initiative, ran South Africa’s Freedom Trail to help women in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2014, and ran across India in 2016 in support of World Vision, an international humanitarian organization.
“What is happening in Australia with the bush fires is nothing short of a tragedy,” Gash wrote on Instagram. “It feels as if nothing else matters right now & it’s terrifying to think we have 2 more months of summer left.”
The other local event, the Australia Relief Run Denver, has a Facebook page and is hosted by Troy Coleman.