Posted on Aug 19, 2022

The Monarch Ultra is back for 2023!


Monarch Butterfly Festival and Run
October 15, 2023
12 to 4 pm

Millennium Park, Peterborough

Raising awareness about the continuing depletion of Butterflies and Bees in our environment.

Festival Information and Registration









Monarch Ultra
March 2023

In September 2022 the Monarch Ultra team organized a community event for 150 persons at Peterborough’s Market Hall. An Art exhibit of local artist with Monarch Butterfly motives was on display, Food and drink was served and several speakers shared messages. The highlight was a presentation by Monarch royalty, Carol Pasternak. She shared her insight and knowledge about the Monach Butterflies with humor and passion.
Two month later at the end of November three members of the M.U. team were invited by the Mayor  of the city of Zitacuaro, Mexico to participate at the second international Monarch Butterfly Festival. Zitacuaro, also known as the Monarch Butterfly capital is at the gateway to several sanctuaries high up in the Sierra Madre mountains. We participated at a daylong symposium of speakers and naturalist,  learning about the current state of the Monarch population and what the local government and environmentalists are doing to protect the species from extinction. There were several celebrations with food, drink, music and dance organized by the hosts.
The highlight of the visit was an excursion up the Cerro Pelón mountain to see the millions of Butterflies hanging in the Oyamel Fir trees to overwinter. A sight and a feeling of amazement non of us will forget.
During the festival we got to know Gustavo Lopez, he is the director of Nación Verde, a group of activists that has planted over 200 000 trees in the mountains surrounding the sanctuaries. As we all know habitat los is one of the causes of the Monarchs depletion. Illegal logging causes erosion of the soil jeopardizing the Forrest and the habitat of the Butterflies.
The Monarch Ultra team has chosen to support Nación Verde in their goal to plant one million trees in the coming years. A big goal, however as we know, a big problem needs a big solution.
On October 15th. 2023 there will be the first Monarch Butterfly festival and run at Peterborough’s Millennium park. The purpose of the festival is to promote community involvement and raise awareness about the danger of loosing the Monarch’s and all pollinators. Local advocacy groups will provide educational opportunities, artist will exhibit their art, live music and dance will entertain the visitors. There will be face painting and games for the kids and a 10 km. Run open to 200 runners. The Proceeds raised at the race will be sent to Nación Verde to support the tree planting campaign.
The Monarch Ultra group invites everyone to participate whether it is coming out to the festival,  planting Milkweed and flowers for pollinators in their own garden or sending letters of concern to our politicians.
In the last 20 years we have lost 80% of the Monarch Butterly population. As of the end of 2022 they have been declared an endangered species. Let’s not stand by the sidelines and let them be eradicated from our environment.
Update by Gūnther Schubert
Peterborough Kawartha Rotary 
Monarch Ultra Group

Monarch Ultra Update
August 19, 2022

For this year, the organizers are hosting a delegation of city officials from Zitácuaro, September 9 to 11th in Peterborough. The purpose of the visit is to support the project advocating for the Monarch Butterflies, as well promoting their city, also known as the Monarch Butterfly capital of Mexico, for preservation and tourism. The visit will include meetings with local indigenous people at Camp Kawartha and Curve Lake, connecting with environmental students at Trent University and a festive event at Market Hall in Peterborough. The event entry is free and promises to be a great event with food, speeches, music and making connections.    REGISTER HERE     Butterflies Connect People (for additional info)

Organizers have already started talking about organizing the 2023 Monarch Ultra. 

The plan is to hold one run in Peterborough, Canada, one in Milwaukee, USA and in Zitácuaro, Mexico. There are several good reasons to change the format from the first 2 campaigns, cost, time commitment and broader public impact are just some of them. The run will be open to shorter distance runners, as well the Ultra length of 50 km. Details will be posted once the planning is finalized.

Monarch Ultra 2021
August 19, 2022

The 2021 Route

Due to Covid-19, the route was adjusted to remain safely in Ontario only for the relay run. In September, the runners ran from Peterborough to Barrie, Ontario, a total distance of 1,800 km along the Great Trail and Waterfront Trail. Clay Williams created another stellar route, that did not require running on highways at all! Ultra runners ran legs of 30km, 50km or 80km over 21 days. While participants could not cross international borders and follow the monarch migration, the organizers message of conservation and running for monarch butterflies remained the same. 

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

Virtual Run:
Numerous runners celebrated the wonder of the monarch migration by virtually running 10km from anywhere in North America. The virtual run coincided with the monarch's spring migration, as they started heading north in search of food and milkweed. Each time a runner finished their 10km distance, a monarch symbol moved further north on the map. Starting in Macheros, Mexico at the Cerro Pelon Sanctuary, and moving north towards Peterborough, Ontario, this symbolic run helped to raise awareness for monarch butterflies. 

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.