Inspired by his 50th birthday, Junel Malapad decided to take on the challenge of running 50 kilometres 50 times over the course of 2020 and raising money for charity for the fifth straight year.

“Some runners, they’re kind of crazy that way,” Malapad said. “I wanted to do something special for my 50th birthday.”

To keep himself motivated, he chose 12 different organizations that he would spend one month of runs raising money and awareness for. In December, that organization was Siloam Mission, an organization that helps with poverty and homelessness, for which Malapad set a fundraising goal of $10,000.  Malapad says he expects to end 2020 with more than $30,000 raised for charity.

Malapad began running because of health conditions in his family. In order to avoid the same fate as many of his relatives, he decided to take action so that he could live a long life. He is now asking people to use Running Day to help themselves, help others, and help their communities. This is more important in 2020 than ever before, at a time when people are looking for ways to get out and to find some sense of normalcy.

Junel Malapad in Running Pose at night beneath a tunnel of multiple colored lights.

While he’s done dozens of 50-kilometre runs and other even longer races, Malapad said when strict COVID-19 shutdown measures were introduced this spring, he almost gave up on his goal just a few months into the year. The pandemic has forced him to run by himself and even though he’s running alone, Malapad is still encouraging people to get out of their houses and get some activity.

“I’m asking people to use Running Day any way they want,” Malapad said, “To leverage the day, to find ways to help to help their community, help themselves, help others and find a way to get out and have some normalcy.”

Between physiotherapy, massage therapy, hot yoga and a chiropractor, Malapad said he was able to keep going after runs that left him feeling like he’s been ‘hit by a truck’.

“This year is a year of digging deep,” he said. “It was a lot of hardship doing this thing, and it kind of parallels life right now. If I could wake up every morning and put one foot in front of the other and hit my goals, it’s really something that I could think of when I’m feeling like I can’t make it.”

Malapad finished off his year of ultramarathons on Boxing Day with a 100-kilometre run around the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg. Running on Boxing Day has been a tradition for Malapad for several years, and you will often hear him using the expression “change Boxing Day to Running Day” to encourage others to get out and run the day after Christmas.

“I have some friends all over the world participating in Running Day, like Hawaii, Germany, New York, from the West Coast, the East Coast,” he said. “That would be a really special thing if we could do that and help out the great organizations we have here.”

Junel Malapad is an inspiration for all of us to make 2021 the Year of Running and giving back to our communities.

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