You are invited on a journey that connects butterflies, ultra-running and film-making with resiliency, inspiration and hope that surrounds all of us...
A team of film-makers, runners, and pollinator advocates will be telling the story of the flight of the monarch butterfly seen through the eyes of ultra-runners who will run the same distance of 4,200 km (2,610 miles) from southern Ontario to 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. Our 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 starts in Peterborough, Ontario and ends in the Sierra Madre Mountains, in Central Mexico, with runners following the same migration route as monarch butterflies. Fifty or more ultra-runners will be invited to run a leg of 50 km or 100 km each through a diversity of landscapes including mountain paths, forests, meadows, deserts, and cities.
Most importantly, the Monarch Ultra is an opportunity to connect us as human beings in Canada, USA, and Mexico with common goals of Earth stewardship and biodiversity conservation.
WHAT IS THE CONNECTION BETWEEN ULTRA-RUNNING & MONARCH BUTTERFLIES?
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 and environmental destruction.
Raising Awareness: We are using our gifts as film-makers, as pollinator advocates, and as runners to raise awareness of these beautiful insects whose populations are in steep decline. The Monarch Ultra is our way of creating dialogue on pollinators and of their significance to biodiversity and food security.
The Monarch Ultra project requires planning, planning and more planning! Since we are filming across three countries and telling the story of one of the longest known insect migrations on Earth, we have a number of tasks before the big event takes place in the fall of 2019. One of these activities will be a road trip this fall of 2018 to make sure that the route we created is safe for the runners and film crew. We will also film the road trip to stay connected with our supporters so that they can share their ideas while we begin this epic journey.
The Kickstarter campaign will support the first stage of our project, including:
- Video camera rentals, and other pre-production materials.
- Lodging and meals for the crew on the trip.
- Car rental and gas for the 4,200 km journey.
- Travel insurance and permits.
- Crew fees.
- Any extra funds raised through the Kickstarter campaign will go towards production costs, additional filming opportunities with monarch butterfly experts, and marketing to promote the project across North America.
Rodney Fuentes, Carlotta James, and Clay Williams are on a mission to build a 4,200 km (2,610 miles) relay run through three countries and save the monarch butterfly from extinction along the way.
Rodney Fuentes, Director & Cinematographer
Rodney is a documentary filmmaker with a passion for nature and outdoor adventures. Before moving to Canada, Rodney spent half his life exploring the neotropical rainforest and guiding birdwatching tours in his native country, Venezuela. Rodney is also a runner and an outdoor explorer with vast experiences in the tourism industry. Rodney has worked and volunteered for several NGOs including the Venezuelan Audubon Society, Phelps Ornithological Museum, Birds Studies Canada, and the Peterborough Field Naturalist Club. Rodney lives in Peterborough, Ontario.
Carlotta James, Pollinator Advocate & Runner
One day while running along forest trails in Peterborough, Ontario, monarchs seemed to accompany Carlotta on the run and whispered an idea to her: The dream of runners and butterflies on a journey together from north to south. Since then, Carlotta has been working tirelessly with the Monarch Ultra team to create an ultra-run as a way to connect with the people and places along the migration route, and for the special place it has in the deep history of the land. Carlotta feels that she has reached the heart of where she and many others have dreamed to be: a desire to connect on a deeper level through the art of storytelling.
Carlotta lives in Peterborough with her family, has been a life-long runner, and has used this process to explore wild spaces and to discover what's on the fringes. Carlotta is also a pollinator advocate and is co-founder of the Peterborough Pollinators, a grassroots citizen-led group working together to meet the challenge of declining pollinator populations. Peterborough Pollinators works in the community to raise awareness of pollinators so crucial to food security and biodiversity, and to the well being of our ecosystems.
Clay Williams, Mapping Expert & Runner
Clay is an avid runner from Elmira, Ontario. After running a handful of ultramarathons, Clay created and ran the Canal Pursuit for Mental Health, a 785 km run from Georgian Bay to Ottawa along two of Canada's longest canals, and eventually turned it into a relay run attracting almost 60 runners from across Ontario. As the "go-to" guy in his running community for putting together running routes and ensuring maps are accurate, Clay's experience made him a natural fit for putting together the route and coordinating the runners for the Monarch Ultra.
Galen Brown, Producer
Galen's first documentary film ever was funded purely through Kickstarter and won him a best first-time director award from the Yosemite Film Festival. Since then he has produced and directed several short and feature-length documentaries and is excited to bring "The Monarch Ultra" to the forefront of running culture.
Galen founded 3004 Studios in 2012 focused on producing impact content for clients as well as in-house team collaborations. 3004 Studios will make sure that this epic story is captured at the highest standards and quality, suitable for any broadcaster or distributor.
Calling all Ultra-Runners! We are looking for runners across North America to cover 50km-100km each. If you would like to participate in the 4,200 km Monarch Ultra relay run, please send an email to Clay Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org. Clay will add your name to our list of participants, and once our registration page goes live next year, he will send you a link to register. We can't wait to meet the super-heroes who will be running the Monarch Ultra with us next year!
Final Thoughts from the Team...
At the heart of the Monarch Ultra is a story about our connection to the land and the beauty, resiliency and strength of the runners and the people we will meet along the way, amplified even more by the monarch migration. Thank you for believing in us to share this story with the world!
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge to making the film and ultra-run will be coordination and logistics. By helping to fund the Monarch Ultra project through the Kickstarter campaign, we intend to start the first phase of the project with a road trip this November. Our road trip starts in Peterborough, Ontario and ends in Michoacán, Mexico - the same route that the ultra-runners and monarchs will be taking next year. This road trip is crucial to ensure that the route we've created is safe for the runners, the film makers and the support staff.
Another aspect of the project is creating partnerships across a wide range of groups, including ultra-runners, running groups, conservationists, naturalists, municipalities, and non-profit groups. Since we are covering a distance of over 4,200 km across three countries, we want to ensure that partnership-building plays a central role in our project. Finally, we want to allow ourselves time to meet with inspiring people from across North America who are working on protecting pollinator habitats and other conservation efforts, which will happen during the first stage of the project - the road trip this November.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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