Montreal ultramarathon runner to follow 4,500-km path of the monarch butterfly
A Montreal lawyer and ultramarathon runner is taking a break from his practice to head out on a 4,500-kilometre journey on foot to Mexico -- and it's all because of butterflies.
On July 29, ultra-marathoner Anthony Battah will begin his trek, called Ultra-Trail Monarch, that will take months to complete. He'll follow the migration path of the endangered monarch butterfly.
"It's the ultimate marathoner, actually the ultimate ultra-marathoner. It takes this path from Canada to Mexico every year," he said.
Battah's goal is to help save the pollinator so near and dear to his heart.
"They're in danger," he said. "They've lost their habitat mainly because of us humans."
He'll kick off his trek at the Montreal Insectarium, averaging 50 kilometres a day over 90 days, crossing three countries as the butterflies begin their winter migration.
Monarch butterflies are important pollinators, but their population has been under significant decline for decades.
Their habitats are threatened by deforestation, pesticides, and weather changes due to climate change.
Along his route, Battah will plant milkweed and other nectar-rich flowers.
Just like ultra-marathoners, monarchs need stations to rest and refuel.
Battah hopes it will help future generations of monarchs.
"Milkweed is super important for the cause," he said. "It's an indigenous plant and the only plant on which the monarch can reproduce, grow, feed itself and become a butterfly. So the whole metamorphosis is done basically because of this plant."
The runner is hoping to encourage others to save these butterflies and to protect biodiversity.
"I want to inspire people to take action, I really believe we've got to raise our game, everyone, individually and collectively," he said.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante even left Battah a message of support, encouraging him on his journey.
He won't be doing it alone, though; his wife and daughter will be riding alongside him.
"It's a big family affair, a big collective project. We hope so," he said.