The Secret 3k – Safe Races, Safe Spaces

Posted by martin.parnell |
The Secret 3k – Safe Races, Safe Spaces

On Wednesday, March 4th at 3.30pm a group of students, teachers and parents lined up outside Ecole Notre-Dame des Vallees School in Cochrane, Alberta. They were all there for one reason: To participate in The Secret 3k.

The Secret 3k, now in its third year, was inspired by film-maker Kate McKenzie’s documentary film “The Secret Marathon”, in which she and I traveled to Afghanistan to support that country’s first female marathoners. Since its inception, The Secret 3k has grown to become an international movement with 15 affiliated events across Canada and 12 countries participating around the world. 

“While filming a documentary in Afghanistan” Kate said, “I was inspired by such brave women and girls who fought for equality and at times, risked their lives for the freedom to run outdoors. When I returned to Canada, I was struck by the stories of so many women who told me they didn’t feel safe to walk or run at night right here in Calgary. 

The Secret 3k was launched to reclaim safe public spaces and champion gender equality here at home. We’re excited to have The Running Room and Girl Guides of Canada joining us for The Secret 3k because it will help us to reach one of our goals of making a difference here in Canada to promote safe and inclusive spaces and empower young people to be part of creating that change.” 

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Set Goals, Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Outstanding Results” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” was released in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

As The Secret 3k was about to start at Ecole Notre-Dame des Vallees, one of the students did the count down from 10 and we were off. Everyone ran and walked at their own pace along the Bow River pathways proudly wearing their “EQUALITY” bibs. One kilometre in we spotted a herd of deer and a buck. Amazing. At the turn-around spot I waited for all the participants to pass then I headed back. 

As the students crossed the line everyone cheered and gave each other hi-fives. They were thrilled that they had completed 3 km and done something to help others. In this case it was supporting three very worthwhile causes: The Girl Guides of Canada, Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan and the Marathon of Afghanistan. 

As the students, parents and teachers headed off home they all said that they wanted to do it again next year. 

The run / walk takes place during the week of International Women's Day and celebrates gender equality and creating safe and inclusive spaces. Next year's event will take place on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. 

See you there.

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