Former World 100m silver medallist Bruny Surin of Canada is the heartbeat of a 60m Celebrity Sprint Challenge, which takes place in Montreal later this month. SPIKES brings you six things you need to know about the celebrity dash.

1. That’s entertainment

Organised as a joint venture between Athletics Canada and Bruny Surin, the race promotes healthy active living through sports and raises funds for the Bruny Surin Foundation. Surin himself also harbours a more general ambition.

“I’ve been involved in athletics for more than 20 years and it gives us an opportunity to work closely with the federation and do something more entertaining,” he says.

“We have reached out to our celebrity friends and they are very happy to participate. We want to encourage more kids to come along and celebrate athletics.”

2. Free and easy

The event will take place on day one of the Hershey Canadian Indoor Championships, which is a national youth and junior championships held at the 4,000-seater Complexe Sportif Claude-Robillard in Montreal. The spectacle will take place just before the men’s 60m heats.

“We want the celebrities to have a good time and see the athletes of the future mingle with them,” Surin explains. “The event is going to be free, so we hope to see a packed crowd with many kids there.”

Jessica Zelinka ()

ONE TO WATCH: Two-time Commonwealth Games silver medallist Jessica Zelinka has a 7.39 PB in the 60m

3. Celebrity line-up

Surin is delighted to attract celebrities from varied backgrounds. Among them will be two-time Olympic moguls freestyle skiing champion Alexandre Bilodeau, Canadian Football player and three-time Grey Cup champion Etienne Boulay, and former NHL tough guy Georges Laraque.

Also taking to the blocks will be former world champion boxer Lucian Bute, UFC ace Patrick “the predator” Cote, UFC coach and TriStar gym founder Firas Zahabi, and radio host Jeremy Filosa. To add a layer of intrigue, Commonwealth heptathlon silver medallist Jessica Zelinka will also be on the start line.

Surin thinks competitors will have to keep a close eye on Boulay, the former Canadian CFL player turned TV presenter, who he says could be a dark horse on race day.

“He is taking it very seriously and he still trains nearly every day. He is very fit and he even wants to run in a bodysuit,” Surin says.

4. Bruny blow

Originally down to compete, Bruny, a two-time world indoor 60m champion, has unfortunately had to withdraw following an Achilles tear in a recent 30m race against his teenage daughter Katherine – a 55-second 400m sprinter.

“Initially I planned to race,” he says. “However recently while on vacation in Florida my daughter – who is on a full track scholarship at the University of Nevada – challenged me to a 30m race.

“I felt pain in the warm up, but I could not back off. I thought I had to do it and then four strides into the race. Bang! I‘m paying the price and walking around on crutches. I was lucky I did not rip my whole Achilles. I have a small tear near the soleus muscle, which sits near the top of the Achilles. If it was a little lower the whole Achilles would have snapped.

“I think Katherine felt bad when I got injured, but what’s done is done and she won the race,” he adds.

Bruny Surin ()

Surin will be sitting out of the race, which is being held 20 years after the Canadian won his second indoor world champs 60m gold medal

5. Training aids

Surin may not be thundering down the track on February 20, but the 47-year-old Canadian sprint legend and 1996 Olympic 4x100m champion is still happy to offer his sage words of advice to the celebrities competing.

“I would advise any of the celebrities to work on their power in the gym,” he explains. “If any of them wants any help or for me to go through starting blocks with them I’m happy to help.

So does the former 6.45 60m sprinter have a winning time in mind for the celebrity race?

“I think if the winner runs 7.3 or 7.4, that would be a good time,” he adds.

6. Aims and ambitions

With a start list chock full of former sporting stars, there will definitely be a competitive edge to the race. Glory awaits the ultimate victor, but Surin’s personal ambitions are to champion the sport he loves in an atmosphere for all to enjoy.

“There is often a lot of focus on track and field in an Olympic year, but I want this event to help raise the profile of track and field outside of an Olympic year,” he adds.

“I want to see a smile on the faces of the fans and for the celebrities to have a good time.”