Fort McMurray runners leave a green footprint in wildfire razed forests
More than 500 saplings will be distributed to runners in the 2018 Fort McMurray marathon
Regrowing burned areas of Fort McMurray's boreal forest will be more of a marathon than a sprint.
And the community's marathon race committee is running with that idea.
More than two years after the May 2016 wildfire, race organizers hope to create a green legacy along community trails, which make up a significant portion of the course.
Fort McMurray Marathon chair Kelsey Stefanizyn said they hope to distribute more than 550 small white spruce trees.
"We really wanted to give ourselves the mandate to be greener," Stefanizyn said. "That tree is just one extra token that can help us have a positive impact."
The 2016 wildfire is estimated to have burned through over 700,000 hectares of forest.
In the time since the fire, some trails have been lost to erosion, said runner Borrey Kim. Others have become overgrown because runners tend to avoid areas with charred and fallen trees.
"There's definitely some emotions when you go through there," he said. "Especially if you go through a part where you do witness the aftermath of that fire."
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Over the last two years, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and other organizations have embarked on a tree removal and replanting program, in hopes the forests and nature lovers will return.
In a small way, marathon organizers hope to help with those replanting efforts.