Empowering Women Through Sport 

The Rotary Club of Guelph wants to let you in on a secret.

When we were approached to sponsor the first ever “Secret 3K” run/walk in Guelph, it piqued our curiosity, especially when the local organizer and volunteer race director, Ashley Burr,  said “I don’t want to run scared.”  

“I’ve been personally harassed on our local sidewalks and beautiful Guelph trails while doing nothing more than going for a run” said Ashley. “It’s why I seldom run alone anymore, and actually coordinate a group of women to run together in a pack each week, for our mutual safety.”

Finding that Rotary had endorsed Canada’s national Secret 3K Committee led our club into deeper research.

We learned about The Secret Marathon held in Afghanistan in 2015 with the help of Rotarian Martin Parnell from Cochrane, Alberta (District Governor for the Calgary area in 2021-2022). A wonderful documentary (free to watch) was made showing women and girls participating in that secretly arranged marathon. 

Later, when Rotary Clubs in North America heard about The Secret Marathon, many felt motivated to raise funds to help the Afghani women and girls continue with their sporting and recreational activities. But it soon became evident that safety for women and girls was an issue close to home as well, with many LOCAL examples of discrimination and assaults on women and girls in sports or when travelling alone.

That's when the Secret 3K event was dreamt up, as a public run/walk to take place in North American towns and cities around International Women's Day each year. The goal is to raise awareness, empower women and girls through sport, and raise funds for organizations that support sport safety and equity, both locally and around the world.

On March 8, 2023, around 200 people supported the first ever Secret 3K run/walk in Guelph, and Rotary’s support was proudly evident. We hope that more Rotary Clubs will get behind this cause and such events in future. If a Secret 3K comes your way, support it. If not, start it. 

Rotary supports the UN and Afghan women's rights activists in calling for women to have access to gyms and parks. All people should be free to move regardless of gender.

Rotarians Aidan Harris and Terrie Jarvis were key supporters of the Secret 3K in Guelph.

Submitted by Terrie Jarvis

Rotary Club of Guelph