Lacombe, Blackfalds, and several other communities in Central Alberta played hosts to some very special guests last Saturday.
Although it was only for a short visit, members of the 41 Signal Regiment of the Canadian Army Reserves stopped in Lacombe and Blackfalds the afternoon of Sept. 14 as part of a relay run from Edmonton to Red Deer.
Codenamed Exercise Swift Fox, the relay run saw two teams of runners take off in opposite directions simultaneously from Edmonton and Calgary at 6 p.m. on Sept. 13 to meet in Red Deer at the annual Terry Fox Run on Sept. 15.
Runners began running Friday evening and ran until about 8:30 p.m., as they were not allowed to continue the run through the night, and resumed the run again in the morning.
Each team carried a different commemorative message, both of which were read when the teams met in Red Deer for the Terry Fox Run.
Each of the runners ran legs of five to seven km at a time.
Runners ran one at time, relay carrying their team’s message. Altogether there were about 30 runners between the two teams as well as support staff in vehicles to assist the runners.
The group from Edmonton reached Lacombe shortly after 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon and then continued onto Blackfalds after a brief stopover, reaching it around 3 p.m.
Many of the communities in which the relay teams made stops, including Lacombe, were home to some of the members of 41 Signal Regiment. As 41 Signal Regiment is a division of the Reserve Army, its members usually have full-time careers outside of the Army as well.
Master Cpl. Drew Adkins of 41 Signal Regiment calls Lacombe home.
Adkins, who works as an EMT with Lacombe ambulance, said he was happy to be able to take part in the run through his own hometown.
“It’s an honour to be able to sort of show appreciation that the community provides to us as soldiers,” said Adkins.
“We’re all reservists in the military which means we are parttime soldiers and have full-time lives somewhere else, and the City of Lacombe has given back to me on a number of occasions for military training.”
Mayor of Lacombe Steve Christie expressed his feelings that the event was an honour on the part of the City as well.
“Anytime that the Canadian Armed Forces come through and give us a plaque in honour of supporting them, it’s a great day,” said Christie.
“Lacombe has had many members within the military in many different aspects and we have up and coming cadets and we will continue to support our armed forces because they fight for what we have today.”
In Blackfalds, Christie’s counterpart, Mayor Melodie Stol, reiterated Christie’s thoughts that both parties, the Town and 41 Signal Regiment, were happy to show each other recognition.
“I just really respect what people do when they work and volunteer for the military,” said Stol. “They were stopping by to say ‘thank you’ to us and give us recognition, so it’s the least we could do to accept that.”
Capt. Brian Farkes of 41 Signal Regiment said the objective of the run was four-fold.
It was a way to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the founding of Canada’s professional military communication branch, to promote physical fitness within the regiment, to increase awareness about employment opportunities with the regiment and to promote Red Deer’s annual Terry Fox Run.