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Marathon Man: Secret 3K – six years and running

It’s never too early to look ahead to the seventh Secret 3k next spring, which will be held on March 6, 2024.
The Secret 3K walk/run is still going strong, six years after the inaugural event.

On March 8 at 3.15 p.m., I lined up outside École Notre Dame des Vallees School in Cochrane with 77 students, teachers, and parents.

We were all there for the sixth annual Secret 3k Run/Walk. This school has participated every year and as we counted down from 10, we headed off along the pathways of the mighty Bow River.

A little bit of background on this event. In 2015, for the first time ever, a marathon was held in Afghanistan – a marathon that both men and women were able to participate in.

But they had to keep it a secret. Why? Well, there are still places in the world where women are not allowed to run or walk outside. However, a community in Afghanistan courageously carved out a new way forward for the next generation. By creating safe races, they helped to create a safe place to run and walk.

The day before the Cochrane school’s visit, Kate McKenzie, co-founder of the Secret 3k and I visited Windsong Heights School in Airdrie. After talking to the students, we completed the Secret 3k with them.

On the evening of March 8, I headed into Calgary and completed another Secret 3k. The wind was bitingly cold, but everyone was in good spirits as they ran and walked along the pathways under the lights of the big city.

A little earlier in Ottawa, daughter Kristina with partner Josh and grand boys Nathan and Matthew did their Secret 3k along the Rideau Canal, earning hot chocolate and cookies upon finishing.

The event took place across Canada and around the world with 1,200 participants plus 31 schools and youth groups from 11 countries. In fact, over the six years that the event has been going on, there have been participants from 27 countries involved.

This year was a record for fundraising, with $30,000 going to the Afghan Sports Trust, 261 Fearless, which is an organization founded by Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, and Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan.

It’s never too early to look ahead to the seventh Secret 3k. This will take place on March 6, 2024. I went on the registration site ( this morning. You can choose to register for one of the marquee sites across Canada or have a virtual event with you and your friends anywhere in the world. There is also Secret 3k gear and you can donate to one of the partner charities.

So why not join us for the seventh Secret 3k next year, and together we can make a difference by empowering women and girls through education and sport.

© 2023 Martin Parnell

[email protected]

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