Junel Malapad is running 200 kilometres almost non-stop in the kind of extreme cold that makes a quick dash to a car seem unbearable for most people.
As he set off from the "Winnipeg" sign at The Forks Sunday morning, the 51-year-old ultramarathon runner was aiming to run 60 laps of a 3.3-kilometre route in 48 hours on little sleep.
It’s the sixth straight year Malapad has held his Change Boxing Day to Running Day event to raise funds for Siloam Mission, which provides shelter and support for Winnipeg’s homeless population.
Hoping to collect $20,000 this year, he was prepared for whatever Mother Nature would throw at him, including snow and a bitter wind chill, while running the equivalent of about 4 1/2 full marathons.
"I just have to contend with the cold, the snow coming our way and the ice and fatigue," said Malapad, head caretaker at Sisler High School in Shaughnessy Park. "People will join me along the way and that’s going to carry me through it.
"The biggest challenge is fatigue in the middle of the night. I’m going to take naps, but probably not long enough."
The Winnipegger planned to stop running at about 2 a.m. Monday and again Tuesday for 30-minute naps in a room at Inn at the Forks.
His only other breaks would be brief ones to eat or go to the bathroom.
Friend Jin Lee, 38, joined Malapad at the start of the run and was hoping to complete the entire ultramarathon and cross the finish line with him Tuesday morning.
"He’s very humble, but he’s a great leader," said Lee. "He’s putting himself out there in harsh winter weather and thinking of homeless people. There are people out there in need and we often forget about them.
"I’m grateful there’s someone like Junel. He’s doing amazing things for people."
The temperature was -18 C and wind chill -24 when the pair began the ultramarathon with a few other runners and supporters.
Environment Canada was predicting five to 10 centimetres of snow and wind gusts up to 50 km/h overnight.
A wind chill of -30 was expected Monday afternoon.
Malapad brought five plastic containers full of clothing and gear, including three pairs of running shoes, about half a dozen jackets and extra socks, long johns and toques.
He had a large supply of hand warmers and a cooler full of drinks and food to keep him going.
"There’s people who don’t understand and think, ‘Man, that guy’s crazy, he’s inspiring,’" said Malapad, who received an Honour 150 award earlier this year. "I take ‘crazy’ in a good way. I’m grateful to show people that things like this can be accomplished."
Seven years ago, Malapad decided he would run a very long distance on Boxing Day instead of looking for post-Christmas deals in stores.
He ended up completing 100 km that day just for the fun of it.
The following year, he turned the run into an annual fundraiser for Siloam Mission after hearing a person had frozen to death in the city.
Malapad, who began running 13 years ago, has raised about $60,000 for the organization since then and was already closing in on this year’s $20,000 goal.
"It’s now more important than ever with COVID," said Malapad. "They’re really having a challenging time trying to help people. I would love to be there to help out any way I can, but my talent is running."
It’s not unusual for him to go for a 50-kilometre run on a Saturday or Sunday. He ran 50 kilometres 50 times last year to mark his 50th birthday.
In October, Malapad ran 241 kilometres during the three-day Beaudry Fall Classic trail race at Beaudry Provincial Park, just west of Headingley. He figured he only slept about three hours that weekend.
Last May, it took him 16 hours to run 100 kilometres from Kildonan Park to Grand Beach.