Const. Jeffery Bartsch has been running marathons wearing full police gear to help raise money for mental health research for the last three years.
But this year, the Queen City Marathon in Regina had extra meaning.
The Weyburn police officer ran in honour of Const. Sara Burns, her partner Const. Robb Costello and the two civilians killed in a shooting this August in Fredericton, N.B.
Bartsch knew Burns from his time at the Atlantic Police Academy in Prince Edward Island.
“I got to know her very well on a personal level. We car-pooled every weekend back to Fredericton where I was living in 2015,” Bartsch said, adding he kept in contact with Burns even after he moved to Saskatchewan.
Bartsch attended the regimental funeral for both officers and was asked by Burns’ husband to be an honorary pallbearer.
He described Burns as being a “very kind-hearted, loving mother of three children.”
“Loved her kids, her family very dearly and was a very, very hard worker,” Bartsch said. “She had an extremely big heart and a huge passion for policing and helping people and community service work.”
Running to end the stigma
Like most years, Bartsch ran the QCM to raise funds and awareness for mental health. Since he started the initiative, he has raised more than $7,000 for mental health charities.
“There’s … a stigma around mental health and mental illnesses and it is becoming a pandemic around the world,” he said.
“I took it upon myself to run for mental health charity, to end that stigma and to raise awareness to tell people that it is OK to have those issues.”
During the marathons, Bartsch runs in a full officer uniform complete with a ballistic vest and a utility belt filled with training items, which weighs around 20 pounds.
The only difference is that he wears running shoes to help keep his ankles in good shape while completing long distances.
This April, Bartsch attended the Run to Remember in Los Angeles, where he ran a half-marathon.
He was the only Canadian in uniform with more than 100 American uniformed officers who were also running for mental health and to honour three Canadian officers killed in 2017.