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Jason Israel: Running to Recover

Jason Israel has found a path to recovery through running. From September 12 to 20, he will take on the Commander’s Challenge, running 26.1 km a day – every day – as part of the 2020 Canada Army Run. “That way nobody who signs up will be running alone. They will know that I'm pushing through the hard times with them,” says Israel.

Retired Sergeant Jason Israel served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 15 years, including three tours in Afghanistan. In 2016 he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and in 2018, he retired from the force.

“Getting out on a trail for a run gives me time to process all of the things that trigger my anxiety. I have always loved running and it has made me stronger as a person, so with the help of my therapist, I have turned running into my safe place,” he says.

However, that doesn’t mean that running is always easy.

“There are a lot of hard times while I’m running also. When I’m super tired and my head space is not with it. Then I have flashbacks that I'm in Afghanistan again. I don’t like talking about this, but I want others who have similar experiences to know that they are not alone.”

Before sustaining his injury, Israel competed in the Canada Army Run five times.

“But once I started having problems with people and being around crowds I stopped participating.”

Through Soldier On, Israel found his way back to taking part in organized events like the Canada Army Run.

“Soldier On showed me that life with my injury can still be okay and that I can do it at my own pace. Crowds are still really hard for me so the fact that the run is virtual this year is ideal. Knowing that all of the people at the Army Run are there for people like me, makes running it the best feeling in the world.”

At the Invictus Games 2017, Israel represented Canada as a sprinter in the 100, 200, 400, 1500m, and relay events. He also won two gold medals running 800 and 1500m in the 2018 Warrior Games, but at the end of the day it’s the camaraderie and peer support that has meant the most to him.

“As soldiers, we have a ton of support when we are on missions, but let’s not forget that it’s not over just because we’ve made it home. Soldier On and the Canada Army Run provide support overcoming hardship at home. It’s just what we need.”