Bonding through Activity: The creation of Arctic Council Active

In this guest post by Benjamin Strong, he recounts the inspiration behind Arctic Council Active and the goal of moving the distance of the Arctic Circle

This is a guest post by Benjamin Strong, Chair of the Search and Rescue Expert Group in EPPR. For more information on Arctic Council Active, click here.

The sun was peeking through my hotel shades early one June morning in Bodø, Norway. I was trying to shake off the jet lag and adjust to the nearly non-stop sunlight while preparing for an Emergency, Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR) Working Group meeting. I am a runner, so the best way for me to wake myself up is by running a few miles outside. I have also learned the best way to get to know the Arctic communities I am visiting is to lace up my shoes and get out for a run or a walk.

I left the hotel and met two EPPR colleagues stretching for their run. I asked if we could run together and was pleased when they said yes. As we ran through the streets of Bodø, we talked about how important exercise is to health and how good we felt when we were outside, breathing the air, seeing the sights and people of the community.

From left to right: Adam Mosley, United States; Dan Cowan, Canada; Benjamin Strong, United States atop a hill on the outskirts of Bodo, Norway before an EPPR meeting
From left to right: Adam Mosley, United States; Dan Cowan, Canada; Benjamin Strong, United States atop a hill on the outskirts of Bodø, Norway before an EPPR meeting.

We shifted from the streets to the local trails of Bodø and joked that we should start a running club. We chatted about our families and strengthened our friendship. We bonded. By the time we reached the summit on the outskirts of Bodø, we established the Arctic Council Running Club!

On the run back to the hotel we discussed how we could include runs or activity wherever we met. How we might incorporate activity into our meetings. We pledged to keep running at all our meetings and we have run in almost all of the Arctic States!

That was in 2019. Fast forward to 2021 and I am excited to say that what started as an informal running club among friends has launched into an Arctic movement! Together, we can actively move around the Arctic Circle. Run, walk, ski, bike, hike, or your favorite activity. It all counts towards the goal. Anyone can participate regardless of your ability. And everyone can enjoy the benefits of movement. Alone or in groups, join us as we become Arctic Council Active!

More information on Arctic Council Active can be found here. Help us reach out goal by tracking your activity here.