CALGARY -- Even though the pandemic has forced the 24th CIBC Annual Run for the Cure to become a virtual event — the motto “keep on running” is apt in the era of physical distancing.

More than 1,500 participants jogged or walked around their neighbourhoods in support of the fundraiser, which is also a kick-off event for breast cancer awareness month in October.

A year ago, crowds gathered at Southcentre Mall before the run, but this year’s event featured a livestreamed opening ceremony and warm-up. Despite the change, it didn't lack any energy.

"There’s still the warmth, there’s still the support, there is still the love from the community and from my family and friends,” said Claire Kolman, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2019.

"I didn’t have a family history, I didn’t have any genetic indications that would make me think that this was going to happen to me," she added, "I was shocked and totally taken off-guard and life just sort of stopped in that moment."

Kolman endured chemo, radiation and surgery to remove the tumours.

Now, she is celebrating over 12 months of remission with her family by going for a light jog around the Glenmore Reservoir Sunday afternoon. She credits the advances in breast cancer research made possible by the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS).

"I don’t know what my story would’ve been like if it would’ve happened 20 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago."

In the last three decades, the five-year breast cancer survival rate has risen to 88 per cent, according to Sarah Eccleston, signature program specialist with CCS.

She adds the fundraising for research continues to be necessary to improve treatment for breast cancer.

"Every one in eight women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis, which is hard to imagine that those are the stats that we are facing today. What that means is that every day, 75 Canadian women are receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer," she said.

Both Kolman and her husband run frequently keep in shape, but this weekend there was a lot more on the line to lace up their runners for.

"The idea to never stop running parallels a lot of things my life now."