Cpl. MacKenzie MacLeod won’t have time to stand still and wave the Canadian flag on July 1.
But that doesn’t mean the Winnipeg student, army reservist and avid athlete isn’t patriotic.
Exactly the opposite, because MacLeod will leave Dauphin, Man. on Canada Day and run the equivalent of nine marathons before she arrives at Assiniboine Park on July 9.
MacLeod, 25, will be doing the Wounded Warrior Run to raise awareness of the service and sacrifice of Canadian soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
The run is also intended to raise money for non-profit family support groups Manitoba-based military units that provide assistance to Canadian troops overseas, as well as soldiers in rehabilitation, their families and the Wounded Warriors Project.
"Last September, my fiancé deployed for his third tour in Afghanistan," said MacLeod, who lives in West Broadway and is busy pursuing a double major degree in criminal justice and sociology at the University of Winnipeg.
"Since then, I’ve been on the edge of my seat, counting the days for him and all the other soldiers to come home safe. And there were times, when I didn’t hear from him for weeks, when I was coming undone at the seams."
It turned out that being reactive in this situation wasn’t healthy for MacLeod, so she decided to do something to symbolize the "high standard of service and courage all of our Canadian soldiers display."
"I needed to get up and contribute. Fitness has always been an integral part of my life, so it was natural for me to decide to be proactive in the ways I know best," said MacLeod, who plans to join the "regular army" after her studies are over.
Add to this a sporting resume that includes bodybuilding, martial arts, swimming, diving and cycling — and you’ll likely find fewer more qualified Winnipeggers to tackle the gruelling nine-day run.
However, MacLeod is under no illusions about the journey that lies ahead.
"Doing this run will be the most important achievement of my life. And I’m passionate about the quality of the lives of the soldiers who come back from combat injured," MacLeod said.
She added that while raising money on the run is important, her main goal is to raise awareness and promote discussion about what happens to soldiers who return home physically and emotionally scarred.
"Post-traumatic stress disorder is a huge issue. We do talk about it, but there are still injuries that happen every day that go under the wire," MacLeod said.
‘Although the forces environment is, on the whole, a progressive one that breeds discussion, there tends to be an unspoken guy code where they don’t talk about their feelings. Also, these injuries are traumatically induced."
The reservist will run through the communities of Ste Rose du Lac, McCreary, Neepawa, Minnedosa, Brandon, Gladstone, Portage la Prairie and Headingley before finishing her remarkable journey at the Assiniboine Park Memorial, across from the Pavilion.
Donations to the Wounded Warrior Project will be accepted along the route. For more information, visit www.woundedwarriors.ca or www.patriotforce.com.