This September, Chad Murphy expects 500 people to channel their inner rock stars – think big hair, eyeliner, neon and even leather – and run or walk five kilometres through Edmonton’s river valley, climbing close to 1,000 stairs en route.
RUN, ANGUS! Some runners dress in their favourite rocker wear, like this Angus Young (from ACDC) lookalike.
It’s not an unreasonable expectation, either; at last year’s Rock ’N‘ Roll Climb of Hope Run, more than 400 people did just that. As rock music blared on speakers throughout the river valley, participants, many in costumes, walked, ran and raised more than $140,000 for the Alberta Cancer Foundation, benefitting the Cross Cancer Institute. Murphy is hoping to beat that total at this year’s fourth annual event on September 15.
Murphy, race chairman, started the Rock ’N‘ Roll Climb of Hope Run in 2009. “I love running and wanted to have a fun event,” he says. He’d seen similar races thrive in the U.S. during the recession, even as other events faltered. Murphy decided to give the theme a try here and picked one of his favourite running routes, a trail that climbs four sets of river valley stairs – the nemesis and goal for many local runners.
It worked, and the first event attracted close to 200 people. For the 2010 event, Murphy’s new employer, Hudsons Canadian Tap House, came on board. Hudsons has been the presenting sponsor ever since.
The funds raised at the event benefit the Cross Cancer Institute, a cause close to Murphy, who was seven years old when he lost his father to cancer. “It was six months from when they told my mother about his diagnosis until he passed,” Murphy says.
Murphy, now 38, has since seen many other people experience the loss he felt as a child. “I think it’s a lot tougher to experience loss the more years that you have with someone,” he says. “So when I see other people now going through what I did, either themselves or with their parents, I think that’s even tougher.”
Murphy is matter-of-fact when discussing his own experiences, including growing up without a father. “Everything that happens to you in life makes you stronger and you learn from it,” he says. “You can’t dwell on it, but if you can help somebody else, that’s fantastic.”
So he helps. As director of store openings at Hudsons, Murphy travels throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan to open new locations of the popular tap-house bar, while also encouraging staff at each to form a team for the run. Murphy then leads captains’ meetings leading up to the event. “We do weekly updates with charts and make it real competitive amongst the teams,” Murphy says.
That approach helped Hudsons raise more than $75,000 for last year’s run, with the top team, Hudsons Head Office, raising close to $30,000. “We’re a real competitive company at the best of times and when it comes to charity it’s no different,” Murphy says.
Between organizing the race and opening new outlets of Hudsons, Murphy’s schedule is busy. And it might just get busier: Murphy has heard from people interested in expanding the rock-themed event beyond Edmonton, to Lethbridge, Calgary and Saskatoon.
For now, this September’s fourth annual Rock ’N‘ Roll Climb of Hope Run is an important focus for Murphy. He’s excited for this year’s event, which he hopes will raise more than $200,000 – a sum that would bump the total raised to close to half-a-million dollars, he says. “My goal right from day one has always been that I won’t hand it off to anyone else until I get to a million bucks.”