Novel Running Event from Montreal to Mexico to Raise Awareness, Funds | Sports Destination Management

Novel Running Event from Montreal to Mexico to Raise Awareness, Funds

Aug 16, 2023

The following article first appeared in the Montreal City News. To read the original article, go here.

A Montreal long-distance runner is following the migratory route of the monarch butterfly – all the way to central Mexico – in a bid to protect the black-and-orange insect.

Anthony Battah, a lawyer by trade, is running 4,500 kilometres, from Montreal to Mexico, to bring attention to the decline of monarch butterflies and put a spotlight on monarch conservation.

“We’ve been completely ignoring what science has been telling us for years, and that’s to take care of our planet,” said Battah.

The ultramarathoner’s goal is to raise money for conservation efforts; he wants to raise $1 for every metre travelled – for a total of $4.5 million.

He says the idea first came to mind a decade ago following the birth of his daughter.

“Our beautiful Laurence just turned 10 and when she arrived my wife and I, as so many parents do, started to realize and question what we’ve just done, and asking ourselves what kind of world we put her in,” said Battah. “And since then I’ve been looking for a way to make a change, take action in a significant matter. And last year I had this crazy idea of running to Mexico.”

The monarch butterfly needs help. It’s endangered largely because of deforestation. The eastern population, known for its migrations from Mexico, decreased by 84 per cent between 1996 and 2014 according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

“Monarchs are pollinators so when you protect the habitat of the monarch butterfly, we do have a ripple effect on a bunch of other species that have key ecological roles in our ecosystem,” said Agathe Moreau, the education coordinator at Espace pour la vie’s Mission Monarch.

Battah says it’s about the monarch butterfly, but also the environment on a larger scale.

“That’s the purpose, putting myself in this big challenge… to rapidly attract attention to the cause, because yes the monarch needs our help, but especially the environment and biodiversity.

“We need them, they need us and the scientists are saying that the first to leave are the more fragile, the insects. It’s a sign, what they’re living now, is maybe what’s waiting for us and our daughters and sons and children down the road.”

Battah is expected to arrive in Mexico in November. Supporters can track his three-month journey on social media and via a live tracker.

“When I think of it as a whole, it’s dizzying,” he said. “Three months of running, 55 kilometres a day, so you gotta bring it back to the basics, which is what I did. One metre at a time… how about we finance one dollar per metre?”

As of Saturday, he’s raised $22,129 for monarch conservation.

“We definitely see an increase in momentum and interest for the monarch butterfly and the conservation of the species, and I think initiatives such as the one that Anthony Battah is undertaking, or running this migratory path shows momentum is building up,” said Moreau.

“It’s definitely a great initiative that brings a lot of awareness, and the more people that are aware about the species, the better it is.”

The International Monarch Monitoring Blitz, the annual event devoted to research for the preservation of the monarch butterfly, took place from July 28 to Aug. 6.

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