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Secret marathons support women in Afghanistan

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Secret marathons support women in Afghanistan
 The Secret Marathon is an upcoming film about the ‘secret marathons’ held in Afghanistan. On March 7, three-kilometre Secret Marathons will be run across Canada to support the completion of the movie, as well as women and children in Afghanistan.
The days are getting longer and the cold bite of the air is beginning to disappear. It’s a sure sign that running season is right around the corner, and this year a new, early season race has been added to the Winnipeg schedule.
And it’s not just any race — the 3K Secret Marathon has an interesting story.
It begins with Martin Parnell, a running enthusiast who once ran 250 marathons in a single year. While recovering from a life-threatening illness, Martin read about a woman in Afghanistan who risked hostility and violence to run in the country’s first official marathon in 2015. Her courage, and that of others like her who ran despite the dangers, struck a chord with Martin who became motivated to regain his health and fitness so that he could join them in the following year’s race.
"The change-makers in Afghanistan are the girls and women," said Parnell, when reached by phone at his home in Calgary.
"They are just so determined to have a better future for their country."
Parnell partnered with a filmmaker to document the whole experience  of the 2016 marathon in order to raise awareness of the challenges faced by girls and women in Afghanistan, and in particular, their ability to participate in sports — something we take for granted in Canada.
The film, The Secret Marathon, will be released this summer and gets its name from the fact that details of the race had to be concealed to minimize the risk of an attack.
In support of Parnell’s film, three-kilometre Secret Marathons are being held in Winnipeg and other cities across Canada, organized by the Running Room in partnership with Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WA) — a nationwide non-profit organization which supports women and girls in Afghanistan.
The race will raises money for the completion of the film, with a portion of the proceeds also benefiting CW4WA. This event, along with others run by CW4WA throughout the year, help draw attention to human rights issues in Afghanistan and promote educational opportunities for Afghan women and their families.
The all-ages-and-abilities run/walk event takes place on March 7, the eve of International Women’s Day, at 6:30 p.m.
If you happen to be somewhere other than Winnipeg, you can still participate through the virtual location feature.
"Anyone can sign up anywhere in the world, and at 6:30 on Wed., March 7 you can do your 3k and support this endeavour," says Martin.
Find out more about The Secret Marathon at thesecretmarathon.com, and about Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan at www.cw4wafghan.ca
Derick Young is a community correspondent for Southdale.
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