Winnipeg runner goes the distance — and then some — for Siloam Mission

For the fourth consecutive year, Junel Malapad's push to change Boxing Day to Running Day continues with an added caveat to help the homeless.

Junel Malapad hoping to cover 241 km in 50 hours to raise funds for homeless

Junel Malapad is embarking an an ambitious 241-kilometre run around The Forks for Siloam Mission. (Ahmar Khan/CBC News)

For the fourth consecutive year, Junel Malapad's push to change Boxing Day to Running Day continues with an added caveat to help the homeless.

Malapad is attempting a 241-kilometre looped run around The Forks in an effort to gather donations and raise money for Siloam Mission. 

The 48-year-old Winnipeg Run Club leader wants to help those who are in need, keeping them warm and cozy as temperatures continue to dip.

"Siloam Mission helps out people homeless people in need and vulnerable," he said.

"I felt that it would be a good thing to help them out with their initiative and helping the community." 

The route, a 3.3-km loop, starts at the covered rink, then goes down the sidewalk around the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, over the Esplanade Riel, down Tache Avenue and across the Norwood Bridge back to The Forks.

Malapad aims to complete the long, urban trek in about 50 hours with each of the 73 required loops taking about 20 minutes apiece.

"I'll incorporate some sleep breaks, I'll be taking some rest breaks for around three hours Thursday morning and Friday morning," he said.

For the few hours he will be resting his head and feet, Malapad will be sleeping at the Inn at The Forks. Along with some volunteers, they've set up a separate room where people can drop off donations ranging from warm clothes to hygienic necessities or cash.

Donations can also be made online. Malapad will also be carrying envelopes while running in case any runners want to give their donations to him personally.

He's aiming to raise at least $5,000 for Siloam's The Need Project.

"I live in the North End and I see people who who really could use a helping hand. Anything could happen to an individual who could require some help," said Malapad.

"You know life has many ups and downs and a person could find himself in a down situation."

Luke Thiessen, communications manager at Siloam Mission, said Malapad is showcasing aid in a unique manner.

"It's things like this that show us that not only are people supporting us, but they want to get their friends and family on board," said Thiessen.

"It really shows us that people care, and we couldn't say thank you enough."


Malapad missed out on a chance to complete his first 241-km ultra-marathon last year, on a route from Great Falls to Betula Lake, in the Whiteshell. He wanted to run 150 miles — the Imperial equivalent of 241 km — as part of Canada 150 celebrations, but got lost in a forest near the halfway point.

With that experience, along with previous years of running through poor weather conditions, he believes this time he's set up to deliver on his promise.

'The weather is something that I just had to deal with in prior years. Last year was minus-45," he said.

"Today is fabulous weather for a run."

Luke Thiessen, communications manager at Siloam Mission, said Malapad's efforts are sending a powerful message to the city. (Ahmar Khan/CBC News)

Thiessen says the distance of the race paired with the extreme factors of the run makes it that much more special.

"When he was talking to us and told us that he had never completed this distance before, we thought what an honour it was," he said.

"The people we serve aren't enduring the physical exhaustion, but they're enduring really challenging circumstances on the streets with the cold."

Thiessen adds that on a day when many people are focusing on getting the best deal, Malapad is trying to ensure that needy Winnipeggers aren't left out.

"Most people are feeling happy and comfortable and probably dipping into the consumerism of the holidays, but I think it's a really powerful example." 

Runners will be joining Malapad on the run at various points to offer moral support and to help keep him on track as his body begins to shut down.

"It doesn't really surprise me that the people here in Winnipeg would come out and join me," he said.

"It really touches my heart and I'm grateful for the friendships.

Junel Malapad hoping to cover 241 km in 50 hours to raise funds for homeless. 2:17