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Q&A with Steve Ryall, Race Director, Forest City Road Races - an MTC Partner

Project type: 
Million Tree Challenge

Q & A with Steve Ryall, Race Director, Forest City Road Races – an MTC Partnerfinishers medal sponsored by the Million Tree Challenge

ReForest London: Why is being a partner with the Million Tree Challenge important to your organization?

Steve Ryall: Our race is named after the Forest City, so it’s a natural fit, but our running community enjoys the beauty and benefits of having a well-treed city, so why wouldn't we do our part to help?

RFL: Given the participants in the Forest City Road Races, do you think your audience has a better understanding of the health benefits trees provide?

SR: Runners definitely enjoy the benefits of the trees, but the health benefits are probably taken for granted. Clean air is essential to all people.  Our race is about people, not just "athletes", all participating for their own reasons. That’s why the slogan "Doin' it " is so fitting. Runners come from all walks of life, all ages and interests, which I would equate that aspect to the same audience of the Million Tree Challenge.

RFL: What made you decide to offer Million Tree Challenge the medal sponsorship?

SR: Our finisher’s medal is in the shape of a tree.  Each time you finish our race, you collect a tree, building a forest one tree at a time. It’s exactly the same idea as the MTC. Hopefully it helps bring awareness and we will all benefit.

RFL: Are there other ways you are promoting the Million Tree Challenge within your organization?

SR: We educate and remind people how important the Million Tree Challenge is to our city. The FCRR community is growing so to speak, hopefully we can encourage this community to participate in a planting event in a group or on their own properties, and of course to register their trees planted.

RFL: Did you receive any feedback from the seedling giveaway last year?

SR: Yes, lots of positive feedback, of course. We would love to be able to offer every finisher a seedling. We just will need some financial support from the local business community.  We would welcome the opportunity to help promote their support in partnership with FCRR.

RFL: Why is this audience perfect for a seedling giveaway to raise not only awareness but trees?

SR: The running community are planners. They plan their races, sometimes a year in advance.  They plan their training schedules, weekly runs, clothing, and meals.  When planting a seedling, it needs to have a plan - a healthy location, with a long term plan to care for it.

RFL: Why should other London businesses and organizations support the Million Tree Challenge initiative?

SR: We are the Forest City. Trees symbolize our city. It’s who we are. Why would they not?

RFL: What benefits does London's Million Tree Challenge have for your organization?

SR: We are a volunteer group of 10 people.  We work very hard to organize a successful race for our runners, sponsors and our charity, the Thames Valley Children's Centre.  We do all this for the right reasons. Being a part of the Million Tree Challenge connects us in a broader way to our community.

RFL: What benefits do you think this project has for London?

SR: London’s Million Tree Challenge has the opportunity to bring our city together. Everyone has different interests, sports, religion, or politics, but this is something we can all benefit from. It’s something we can all participate in as well, no matter our level of income, physical ability or age.

RFL: Do you have any other thoughts to inspire others to join?

SR: Are you doin' it?

RFL: Can you tell me about Forest City Road Races?

SR: The FCRR are Southwestern Ontario's premier running races for 31 years. We offer a Half-Marathon, 10k, 5k, and Fun Run - a distance for participants of all abilities. Proceeds from the event go to the Thames Valley Children's Centre.TVCC supports over 7,000 children with disabilities in Southwestern Ontario. Our team of volunteers works year-round to not only provide a great race day, but help build the running community by promoting a healthy lifestyle. Through free events during the year, based on health education, participation, and community spirit, we bring awareness to the community about how important the TVCC is to our community.

RFL: We are looking to get a business sponsor for a seedling giveaway again at this year’s races, and we will give them a lot of publicity on our end. What kind of publicity would a seedling sponsor get from FCRR?

SR: A seedling sponsor would be at the $5,000 valued level and receive:
• Official sponsor of the program, includes a web page explaining the initiative
• All promotion of the program will be labelled the “Your Company Seedling Sponsor”
• 2 race registrations plus corporate discount for all employees
• Company logo placed on FCRR website with link
• Opportunity to set up display at Race Day Expo (Saturday and Sunday)
• Opportunity to distribute company literature/product samples at Registration (approximately 4,500)
• Mentions on our Facebook site and Twitter accounts

RFL: Thank you Steve. I know that this year’s races are going to be amazing for everyone involved and thank you for you Partnership in the Million Tree Challenge!

The Forest City Road Races are celebrating 31 years this April 28th. For more information about the races please visit their website at If you are interested in being a seedling sponsor, for this event or another event, please contact Sheila Creighton, Partnerships and Marketing Manager at 519-936-9548 Ext 228.