Runners taking part in the Wounded Warrior one-day event were given a police escort along Highway 14 as they jogged from Sooke to Sidney on Sunday.
The one-day event is a prelude to the main run, which starts in Port Hardy on Feb. 27 and winds up in Victoria March 6.
Multiple runners split up Sunday’s distance between Sooke and Sidney, with the group taking a lunch break at Langford Fire Rescue’s main hall. Runners also stopped at the Saanich Fire Department.
Langford Fire Chief Chris Aubrey said the event is a good opportunity to shine a light on issues around mental health among military service members and emergency services workers.
“Demand on first responders had increased significantly with the demands that are already there plus the pandemic,” he said.
Talking about the benefit of the various mental health programs Wounded Warriors run, he said: “There was a big gap and we were losing people, and these programs (Wounded Warriors) puts on are a big help.”
The runners are scheduled to arrive in Sidney at 4:45 p.m. after leaving Sooke at 10 a.m.
Wounded Warriors Canada funds a wide range of programs and services for individuals and their families who have been impacted by operational stress injuries.
This year’s event includes a virtual option to be held Feb. 27 and March 6. It allows residents anywhere to join the team by running 1 km, 5 km, 10 km or 21 km in their respective community. Money raised will be tallied toward the main event goal of $250,000.