Winnipeg Boxing Day runner fundraises for charity for 6th straight year

He’s done it again.

For the sixth year in a row, Winnipeg man Junel Malapad embarked on an ultramarathon during the city’s frigid winter to raise money for local charity Siloam Mission, which serves people experiencing homelessness.

By the time Malapad set out around 11 a.m. for his annual effort to raise funds for the organization — and change Boxing Day to Running Day — the temperature had dropped to about –17 C with a wind chill that felt closer to –27.

But he wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“Every day, I see people on the streets as I commute and I know that there are ways to help out the unsheltered. And I feel like, I guess, I have a talent [for] running. So I want to use what I can do to help out in my own way,” Malapad said.

“I just want to put one foot in front of another … to help out the unsheltered friends in our community.”

This year, Malapad plans to run for 48 hours straight, covering a distance of about 200 kilometres.

And he hopes the effort will help him raise at least $20,000 for charity. 

As of Sunday afternoon, the organization’s website showed Malapad was just shy of halfway toward that goal — though he said he’d also secured a $7,500 donation from one organization and a contribution of about $5,000 worth of brand-new shoes from another.

To prepare for the annual event, Malapad said he keeps up a pretty demanding running schedule.

That includes a seven-kilometre run on Tuesdays, a half marathon on Thursdays and a run of anywhere between 21 and 50 kilometres on the weekends, he said.

But as someone who’s been running for about 13 years, and doing ultramarathon distances for about half that time, he’s gotten used to it.

“I feel I have a good base,” he said.

Malapad was joined by supporters at The Forks in Winnipeg as he got ready to begin his run Sunday morning. (Travis Golby/CBC)

And while the COVID-19 pandemic has meant he hasn’t been able to invite as many people to his event as he’d like to this year — or last year, when he set out to raise $10,000 — he did have some people joining him.

That included his friend Jin Lee, who served as a running mate, as well as a handful of people meeting him along his Winnipeg route on Sunday.

But it also included friends from around the world participating from where they live in places as far away as Hawaii, the United Kingdom, the United States, Asia and across Canada.

And while he chooses to run for Siloam Mission, Malapad encouraged anyone interested in participating in Running Day to choose whatever cause means the most to them.

“Instead of going shopping, [I want to] get people together to exercise, get outside and just do some good things,” he said.

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