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Rolling out the Butterfly Barrels

BLT Runners meet Mountain View Runners in relay challenge

By Andrew Wagstaff
Maritime Runner
Dec. 5, 2017

HALIFAX – Two Nova Scotian running clubs competed in the province’s first Butterfly Barrel relay battle on Sunday and, if Luke MacDonald has his way, it’s just the beginning.
   “There are 62 clubs in Nova Scotia,” he said. “Clearly it should be a tournament, single elimination knockout.”
   The concept is simple. Runners pay $10 to take part, and the money goes to purchasing water barrels to help with water distribution for Kenyan families in need.
   MacDonald learned about the barrels from fellow Rotarian Adrian Brewer, who heads up the Roll Out the Barrel Trust, a charity that provides the push/pull 30-litre water barrels to make it easier for elderly, women and children in Kenya to transport water to their homes.
Photos by Lamrock Photography
The first-ever Butterfly Barrel Relay Challenge took place in Halifax on Sunday, Dec. 3.
   “When I saw this thing, I just about lost my mind,” said MacDonald, who had already been working on other initiatives to improve conditions in Kenya. “I thought, oh my God, what a simple solution to such a large problem. I told Adrian, I’m all in.”
   On New Year’s Day of this year, he decided to create awareness of the barrels by pushing a barrel in the annual Beans and Bangers in Blomidon event in Canning, setting the world 5K record in “barrel running.” He went on to break that record in April at The R.A.C.E. Run in Halifax.
   “I smoked that record down to 23 minutes because I figured out it’s way faster to pull it then to push it,” said MacDonald, with a laugh.
   His efforts to create awareness were a success. Paula James was among those taking part in both events, and loved what he was trying to do.
   “From that day, my family was hooked,” said James. “It’s such a simple concept… rolling water instead of carrying it.”
   Her husband Ed showed pictures of women and children in drought-stricken Kenya carrying water on their backs to their six-year-old daughter Chelsea, and showed her how much easier it is to move water with a barrel.
   A GoFundMe campaign started, with Chelsea’s goal to raise $600, which would purchase and deliver 10 barrels. With help from a school fundraiser, that goal was reached six times over, raising $3,600 U.S. for the cause.
   The potential for the running community to make a difference was clear to James.
   “The road running community in Nova Scotia is not just a fun group of people, but also socially responsible and, with the help of Luke’s leadership and vision, runners are changing lives here at home and on the other side of the world,” she said.
   Her club, the Mountain View Runners, jumped all over the idea of a butterfly barrel relay challenge, as did the BLT Runners.
   “I think the event, at its simplest, is a great idea,” said Ian Loughead of the BLT Runners. “It’s a simple relay challenge between running clubs, an event that doesn’t take a lot of time to prep for, or a lot of resources, and can create a bit of fun inter-club rivalry. Add to that the idea of raising funds to help out those in need, and how could we say no?”
   Held on the BLT Trail in Halifax on Sunday, Dec. 3, the event saw 10 runners from each club run 3K with one of the barrels. Runners were matched up as evenly as possible, with the goal to not lose the butterfly attached to the barrel.
   At the end of the day, the BLT Runners were the victors, scoring revenge after the MVR came out on top in the club challenge hosted by MEC earlier this year. But the real victory of the day was the $435 raised, which will be matched by six barrels from Brewer at the Roll Out the Barrel Trust.
   “It was a blast, to say the least,” said MacDonald, yesterday. “I have no voice today!”
   His imagination is now on the worldwide possibilities of challenges like this one. A charity is already built in the United States that can run with the idea.
   “I think, when they see this barrel run, they will take it on and it will explode over there, then it will go crazy in Britain, where Adrian Brewer is from,” said MacDonald. “In Kenya there are people lined up to do barrel races, but to get in you have to pick up garbage for the World Litter Run.”
   It’s a great opportunity to have fun, be active and help improve the quality of life of a family in Africa, according to James.
   “Doing good actually makes you better,” she said.