A Chilliwack woman will once again be celebrating her birthday by running 100 kilometres all while raising money for charity.
July 23 will mark Kalyn Head’s 25th birthday and her fifth annual birthday marathon fundraiser.
Her birthday fundraiser started five years ago with a five-kilometre fun run. In 2020, she decided to do an ultra marathon which is the equivalent of almost two and a half marathons.
“I like the long distance. I like the challenge,” she said.
Head said she learns something new every year and the first year she did the ultra marathon was the most difficult because she didn’t know what to expect. All of her toenails fell off and she ended up running/walking in her socks for the last 20 kilometres.
“Now I know it’s a lot mental, seeing how hard you can push yourself.”
Like last year, she’s raising money for Special Olympics British Columbia.
To match her 25th birthday, she set a goal of raising $25,000. As of July 9, she’d raised almost $8,000. Last year, Head raised nearly $18,000.
“Special Olympics is not just about getting individuals with intellectual disabilities into sport, it’s a lot about social change and bringing disabilities to peoples’ awareness… and breaking the stigma about disabilities.”
Head is currently finishing up her Bachelors of Education at UBC. She has been living in Vancouver for the past 10 months and comes home to Chilliwack on the weekends. She recently finished her practicum at an elementary school in Vancouver where she was teaching a Grade 2 class.
She taught her students that “it’s one thing to be an ally and be accepting, but taking the next step to be an advocate for other people and making sure that everyone’s included is really important.”
And although it was a “great experience” incorporated the fundraiser into her teaching practicum by telling the Grade 2 kids why she was raising money, it was “really, really tough,” training and going to school at the same time.
On July 23, she will be running from Vedder Park in Chilliwack to Queen Elizabeth Park where she’s been living while going to school.
“We’re going to go Chilliwack to Vancouver because I thought it would be a fun way to close off that chapter of my commute.”
She and her support team will be leaving Chilliwack at midnight on Saturday, July 23. She’s hoping it will take her between 10.5 and 11 hours to complete her birthday ultra marathon fundraiser.
Ten friends and family members – including her brother and sister – will be running and biking with her for the entire trip. Additionally, her physiotherapist will be driving a truck along the route and when her friends/family want to get off their bike and start running, they can put their bike in the truck and join Head on foot.
Although this will be her last ultra marathon fundraiser, she still wants to continue to raise money for charity but instead will likely switch from 100 kilometres to something else – like trail running or biking – as running on pavement is hard on one’s knees.
Head will be finishing up her Bachelor of Education degree at UBC on July 29, just six days after her birthday marathon.
“I might be limping the last week of school,” she said with a laugh.
Once September arrives, Head will be a teacher on-call with the Chilliwack School District.
To donate to Kalyn Head’s 100-kilometre birthday ultra marathon fundraiser, go to sobc.crowdchange.ca/3741.