Posted on Jan 19, 2021

Monarch Ultra - 2021 Update
Carlotta James, Co-founder The Monarch Ultra
January 19, 2021



With so many uncertainties, it's difficult to plan for events this year. However, we remain optimistic that the 2021 Monarch Ultra Relay Run will take place because the very nature of the run means that only 1-2 people will be running per day. We have some exciting updates to share with you:

MU Relay Run:
Due to Covid-19, we had to adjust our route to remain safely in Ontario only for our next relay run. This fall, we will be running from Peterborough to Barrie, Ontario, a total distance of 1,800 km along the Great Trail and Waterfront Trail. Clay Williams has created another stellar route, and this time we won't be running on highways at all! Ultra runners will be invited to run legs of 30km, 50km or 80km over 21 days. While we cannot cross international borders and follow the monarch migration, our message of conservation and running for monarch butterflies remains the same. Once we launch registration on March 1st, we would be grateful if you could share the link with your networks - this exciting province-wide relay run will be one of Canada's longest relay runs!

What does a 1,800 km Ultra Marathon look like?


Virtual Run:
Celebrate the wonder of the monarch migration by virtually running 10km from anywhere in North America. The virtual run will coincide with the monarch's spring migration, as they start heading north in search of food and milkweed. Each time a runner finishes their 10km distance, a monarch symbol will move further north on the map. Starting in Macheros, Mexico at the Cerro Pelon Sanctuary, and moving north towards Peterborough, Ontario, we hope this symbolic run will raise awareness for monarch butterflies while inviting runners from across the continent to participate in this exciting virtual run. Since the distance is much shorter than our fall Relay Run, this new event will make it more accessible for everyone to run and participate in.

Introducing our new Virtual 10 km for 2021.


Donate to an ultra runner or a 10k virtual runner OR make a direct donation.
Select Monarch Ultra Marathon in the dropdown menu. A tax receipt will be issued and sent to you as soon as you donate.

Donations raised through the Virtual 10km will support Camp Kawartha, a non-profit organization offering nature education and environmental stewardship programs for youth. 

For more information visit the Monarch Ultra website.

Original story, Shelly Duben, August 29, 2019, as part of the "Spotlight on Service" series.
A team of filmmakers, runners, and pollinator advocates will be telling the story of the monarch butterfly's migration as seen through the eyes of ultra-runners who will run the same distance of 4,300 km (2,671 miles) from southern Ontario to central Mexico in the fall of 2019.  The Monarch Ultra is the first attempt to run across North America (Canada, United States and Mexico) in order to raise awareness of monarch butterflies who make the migratory journey every year, and whose populations are in decline. This multi-day running adventure will invite runners to traverse wild and remote landscapes while building camaraderie, overcoming adversity, and sharing a singular adventure with monarch butterflies. The Monarch Ultra Relay Run starts in Peterborough, Ontario on September 19th and ends in the Sierra Madre Mountains in central Mexico on November 4th, with runners following the same migration route as monarch butterflies. Most importantly, the Monarch Ultra is an opportunity to connect communities in Canada, USA, and Mexico with common goals of Earth stewardship and biodiversity conservation.
The Monarch Ultra is a celebration of two types of superheroes: monarch butterflies and ultra-runners. Both cover long distances using their incredible body strength to arrive at a new (unknown) destination. The Monarch Ultra is the first documentary project to cover the entire migration via an ultra-run, and during the making of the film, different themes will be explored, including:

Transformation: Similar to monarch butterflies who go through a remarkable transformation (from egg, to caterpillar, to chrysalis, to butterfly), ultra-running is a transformative experience for runners because of the extreme distances they are covering. 

Unity: At a time of great political divide, an ultra-run that spans three countries, two international borders and a diversity of cultures is a call for unity to work together to solve global problems including climate change, environmental degradation, and pollinator loss.

Raising Awareness: The organizers are using their gifts as film-makers, pollinator advocates, and runners to raise awareness of these beautiful insects whose populations are in steep decline. The Monarch Ultra is their way of creating dialogue on the importance of pollinators and of their significance to biodiversity and food security.
If you would like to be part of this project by making a donation, the Rotary Club of Peterborough Kawartha has provided their charity number, and you can donate on the Canada Helps website. Select Monarch Ultra Marathon in the dropdown menu. A tax receipt will be issued and sent to you as soon as you donate.
For more information, you can visit the Monarch Ultra website at: To learn more about Rotary involvement in our District, please contact PDG Don Watkins at
You can also follow along on the Monarch Ultra journey on social media at: 
Visit our "Spotlight on Service" Page for more articles about other projects happening in each of the clubs or at the district level.