By: Kaylea Groover
Karen Von Jagow rushes around the Sacred Heart High School’s gymnasium, only noticeable by the blur of her yellow jacket.
She’s torn between the volunteer sign in table and directing groups of students in highlighter green volunteer shirts to actually help out.
Her job as volunteer coordinator for Ottawa’s 9 Run Run race won’t be over until the last of the racers have crossed the finished line. Until then, she stresses about pulling off the race without a hitch.
“It seems bigger and bigger each year,” said Von Jagow. “Our [race] seems to be growing exponentially so I really don’t think they’re going to let me quit.”
Ottawa’s 9 Run Run, a three km, 10 km and half marathon race, raised money this year for Do It For Daron (D.I.F.D), the youth mental health awareness organization, and for The Royal Ottawa.
The event day saw runners and volunteers of all ages, from 89 to just one year old, which had all races sold out and even put a cap on the amount of volunteers.
“It’s becoming a run that’s not just for runners, it’s also for volunteers,” said Von Jagow.
For the last two years of the race, Algonquin’s police foundations program has sent students to volunteer at the event.
This year, Algonquin sent over 40 students and a team of 34 to run in the race.
The students are also organizing a dodgeball tournament to help raise money for D.I.F.D.
Police foundations program professor and coordinator Lisa Gerrard, along with the help of other faculty members, organize the volunteers and racers on event day. She believes that lessons learned can be transferred from the classroom to real life.
“I hope this event teaches students to challenge themselves, encourages them to be involved in their community, and represent themselves and our program in a way that they can be proud of,” said Gerrard.
The race began when Ottawa’s police chief, Vern White, wanted to run a half marathon in Ottawa every month.
When he found out there was no race in October, he helped create 9 Run Run and made sure charities around Ottawa were being helped as well. This year the race had over 200 volunteers and over 1,800 participants, with the half marathon race being the most popular.
Participants of all races were energized by free McDonalds coffee, a live band, Popeye’s Supplement and plenty of protein-packed snacks at the end of the race.
D.I.F.D mascots in purple morphsuits led the runners in stretching before the race and emergency services chiefs handed out medals at the finish.
Another big draw to the day was the chili cook-off. The event holds a chili contest that allows the paramedics, fire fighters and police to compete against each other and be judged on who makes the best chili.
This year, Ottawa’s Fire Department became repeat champions as they took the title again.
The event has been gaining momentum over the past few years. This year the event raised over $30,000, surpassing last year’s total of over $25,000 for youth mental health. Von Jagow said the charity will be different for next year’s race but the organizers try to always revolve around mental health and youth awareness.
“It’s a very out there issue right now, in a positive way,” said Von Jagow. “People are starting to talk about it more, about suicide and whatnot, so we just thought this would be a way to help.”