50km Fundraiser for Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary

When the Monarch Ultra team and I first visited the Cerro Pelón Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Macheros, Mexico in 2018, it was a dream come true for us. After hiking over 3,000 meters to reach the monarch colonies in the Cerro Pelón mountains, I felt like I'd entered a secret kingdom. Millions of monarch butterflies filled the skies, the trees and the forest floors, and seemed to be in constant activity. Surrounded by glimmers of orange and black wings reminded me of the strength and resilience of these incredible creatures in their ability to migrate thousands of miles. 

In 2019, the Monarch Ultra team returned to Macheros, our final destination of the 4,300 km relay run. After running and travelling for 47 days through Canada, the United States and Mexico, we witnessed the generous and compassionate spirit of the people in Macheros, as they welcomed us with music, dance and food.

This fall, the Monarch Ultra team won't be running to Mexico, but I continue to dedicate my life to the conservation of monarchs and all species on Earth. On November 1st, 2020, my husband Tim Haines and I will run 50 km to raise awareness for monarch butterflies, and to raise funds for the people who work tirelessly to protect the butterfly sanctuaries. All funds raised through this fundraiser will be sent directly to Butterflies and Their People. 

Macheros-based non-profit Butterflies and Their People preserves the habitat for millions of monarch butterflies by providing locals with stable, full-time employment as forest guardians. Regular patrols help prevent illegal logging in the sanctuary. Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Cerro Pelón Sanctuary has been closed to visitors this season, putting hundreds of people who depended on ecotourism out of work. Economic desperation pushes locals into illegal logging, making the work of the Butterflies and Their People guardians more important than ever.

The 50 km fundraiser is a physical and personal challenge for me to continue raising awareness for monarch conservation.  A forest guardian's salary for one year is roughly $4,000-$5,000. My fundraising goal is set for $3,000, and every little bit helps! I hope all of you will rise to occasion and support our efforts to protect monarch butterflies and the people who protect them. The overwintering monarch population has already decreased by 90% over the last 20 years, making effective forest protection on the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve during this difficult time more crucial than ever. Together we can make a difference for monarch butterfly populations!

The 50 km ultra run will start at 10:00am at 100 Water Street (at the Depave garden site) in Peterborough, Ontario on November 1st. Other local runners will also be joining us for different legs of the run. November 1st is a significant day in Mexico, as it is part of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations, a two-day festival to honour the lives of the deceased. It is also the time when monarchs arrive at the sanctuaries in Mexico.  To learn more about Butterflies and Their People, please visit their website at Butterflies and Their People.

I'm grateful for this opportunity to run for an important cause. Thank you for all your support!

xx Carlotta James
Co-founder, The Monarch Ultra

Last day of the Monarch Ultra Relay Run, Nov. 2019, Macheros, Mexico
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Carlotta James
Peterborough, ON

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