Portrait | The Whitehouse Runners
Meeting on their high school cross-country team Aidan Yardley-Jones, Akshay Grover, Marc-André Blouin & Matthieu Blouin have been running together ever since. After completing many competitions, varsity level cross-country events and a childhood cancer fundraiser run from Montreal to Toronto they have now set their sites on a new challenge. In a few days they will be running from their hometown of Montreal, QC to Washington, DC raising money to donate to Cancer research.
Leaving July 1st 2016 and arriving July 10th their 910 km route take them approx 10 days to complete.
After visiting us at Ciele headquarters we had chance to follow up with them with a few questions about what makes them tick, below you will find their answers.
Occupation: What do you do? for a living and otherwise.
AYJ: Industrial Design student at Dawson, I coach a soccer program with the PSA (Pierrefonds Soccer Association), make YouTube videos in my free time.
AG: Honours Commerce Student at John Abbott College, summer job as a Statistics Canada employee
MAB: Full-time student, graduating Commerce at John Abbott College and beginning studies this upcoming fall at Concordia University in Actuarial Mathematics. Part-time job at Village des Valeurs, DDO.
MB: I am currently a student at john abbott college, studying in their Sciences program. In addition to being a student, I am a brand ambassador at Gap’s Banana Republic retail stores. Also, as a part-time hobby and job, I am a signed professional fashion model represented here in Montreal! I live in the quiet yet lovely suburbs of West Island in Pierrefonds, but I am in the process of moving out to a new apartment downtown to begin my own responsible journey !
Favourite run: It can be your favourite run that you do everyday or you can be more specific and pick your best run ever in some fantastic locale.
AYJ: I would have to say my favourite destination to run that I’ve been too is the Bois-de-Liesse Nature Parc in Roxboro. There are so many paths to run on, there are bridges and bodies of water. You can have a different experience every time you go in there.
AG: I really like long distance runs. I usually start listening to a good Red Hot Chili Peppers album and run a 17km course through the Ile Bizarre Nature park. However my favorite distance is the 3000m, it was my best race in high school track. I won 2 Gold and 1 Bronze throughout my HS track career with my best time being 10:18. It’s a lot of fun beating personal bests with that type of distance, I think it’s the fastest run that can still be more or less considered long distance.
MAB: I’d say my favorite run is when I ran 42km around the West Island. I ran from home, in Ste-Genevieve, to Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue and back. It’s my favorite because it’s probably the longest distance I’ve ran without stopping!
MB: My favorite run would definitely have to be my routine jog around the neighbourhood. It turns out to be about a 10km run and is not too long nor too short and gives me that shot of energy I need for the day. Its refreshing, stress-relieving and I recommend everyone to find their own traditional route. The best run ever would be a run across Europe. I’ve always had in mind the idea of backpacking in Europe, so running it – seeing the beautiful views and indulging in the variety of delights – would be a treat.
Your Running High: We’ve all had those runs where we forget we’re running and we just go. – Where do you go in your head during these moments. What are you thinking of?
AYJ: I’m the kind of person that always has something going on in my head, but when I get that runners high, I can narrow in on whatever was just kind of buzzing around in my head and really think about it. If I don’t have something in particular to think about, there’s almost like a mental jukebox in my head that chooses a random song and I’ll just keep singing it until I’m tired of that one and move onto another. It’s often that song change when I realize I’ve ran a couple of kms without even realizing.
AG: These times are great, I usually don’t think about anything at all.
it’s strangely calming.
MAB: To me, this is a moment of pure bliss. Running, to me, is both therapeutic and calming. During a running high, my thoughts are cleared and my will to run refuses to die. I think about what troubles me, which, in turn, only augments my performance.
MB: Running takes a lot of mental skill, despite what most would think. You’re alone in your head, isolated from the world , your body your mechanism keeping you in motion.. I think of the things that encourage me, the people I wish to inspire with my run. I think of the future, because like my running path, I see and think of the future that is to fore come and how I can make the best of every single minute of it. A funny thought comes to mind, it’s almost like sitting in your shower.. you have the free-time to relax and think of the logistics of your life. You train your will-power and you train your mind’s ability to stretch beyond its normal capacity.
How did you get involved with The White House Runners?
AYJ: I was sitting at home with a cast on my foot because I had broken my ankle playing soccer, when Akshay called me and asked if I was free that night and said he and Matt had something big. He picked me up and we went to a Tim Hortons nearby where we met Matt and Marc. They said they wanted to run to Washington, at first I thought they were insane because there was no way I was running in a cast, but when they said it would be the next summer, I was all about it.
AG: After running from Montreal to Toronto for cancer, I wanted to do something bigger and better with a more powerful image. So I assembled a team of the most passionate runners I knew and came up with the idea of running to Washington, DC. The capital of the United States to help make our hero known internationally.
MAB: We are a group of adolescents that had met on our high school cross country team. After my friend, Akshay, had previously ran to Toronto from Montreal, we decided to do something along the same lines with one challenge in mind: making it even bigger!
MB: About a year after my friend Akshay ran to Toronto, I had a moment to myself to think how I can influence the individuals of our youth. I came to several friends and family members with several ideas. The drawing board included fashion shows, charity events, BBQs, but they all didn’t stick out to me, I wanted something fascinating and different that would get the crowd of the world watching us. Then it came to me ; what am I good at ? Running.. So I pitched the idea to the team and we are now known as the White House Runners. Cancer hits most people – including us – hard at home. Its an outgrowing epidemic and as a passionate science student who strives to heal and inspire , doing something outrageously big as running to the capital of the United States was my way of showing how much any individual of our youth, or any age of that matter, that if you wish to inject a voice in a cause, that it is possible. I want to inspire possibilities and broadcast it to not only my friends but to the world.
What do you hope to achieve through this momentous run?
AYJ: Finishing the run would be a good place to start, but I’m confident in my abilities and the abilities of my team mates. Secondly, I would just like to make a difference, not with a monetary value at the end, I want to spread hope. Show that you can to anything if you put your mind to it and you really want it. That there’s always another way of doing something, even if it seems like one door is closing, there are a million opening at the same time if you know where to look.
AG: I have no doubts in our ability to finish our run to Washington, DC. I am very confident in my team. I also hope to capture our run in the most captivating way possible as to create a powerful movie documenting our journey for which I hope to use to start a film career.
MAB: Firstly, I’m hoping we don’t ruin into any obstacles that’ll prevent us from completing our run. Secondly, I’m hoping we’re able to attain our goal of $40,000. More than anything, I’d like to contribute a considerable amount to the cause!
MB: I hope to achieve a nation full of people awe’d and stunned by the sheer power of commitment and hard work. I want to see more of these events going around, I want more people of our generation and beyond to erect infrastructures and organizations that help not only cancer, but every growing issue in our world. As I had said before, the White House runners wish to inspire people that there are no barriers – physical or mental – that can stop a body from inspiring another.