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Martin Parnell

Finish The Race Attitude

Life is an Adventure.

Live it.

Join Martin and Make a

Difference in the Lives of Others

Learn More...

International Keynote Speaker,

TEDx Presenter, Workshop Facilitator,

Author, and 6 X Guinness

World Recorded Holder

Life is an Adventure.

Live it.

Join Martin and Make a

Difference in the Lives of Others

Learn More...

International Keynote Speaker,

TEDx Presenter, Workshop Facilitator,

Author, and 6 X Guinness

World Recorded Holder

Life is an Adventure.

Live it.

Join Martin and Make a

Difference in the Lives of Others

Learn More...

International Keynote Speaker,

TEDx Presenter, Workshop Facilitator,

Author, and 6 X Guinness

World Recorded Holder

Life is an Adventure.

Live it.

Join Martin and Make a

Difference in the Lives of Others

Learn More...

International Keynote Speaker,

TEDx Presenter, Workshop Facilitator,

Author, and 6 X Guinness

World Recorded Holder

“In life, you don’t have to do a lot but you have to do something”

Book a keynote with Martin
Martin Parnell Keynote Image

Keynote Speaker

At the age of 60, Martin Parnell went on a journey that many believed was madness:

running a marathon in Afghanistan in a quest to fight for women's rights and gender equality. Of course, this was not the first time he had been called crazy. In 2010 he had run 250 marathons in one year, and in 2013 he had climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 21 hours. Those two endeavours were part of his “Quest for Kids” initiative, which raised $1.3-million for the humanitarian organization Right To Play and gave the gift of hope to over 27,000 children around the world.

It was while recovering from a rare and life-threatening blood clot on his brain that Martin had read about Zainab, the first woman to run a marathon in Afghanistan. He was so inspired by her story that he decided that if he was able to recover from his illness he would run with her at the next "Marathon of Afghanistan" in support of rights for girls and women. In The Secret Marathon, audience members will be transported to a country of beauty, hardship and complexity, sharing in the despair, resilience and friendliness of the Afghan people as they strive for freedom and equality for themselves and their fellow citizens.

Latest Blog

The Ageless Athlete

July 17th 2024
By Martin Parenell and Malc Kent
Martin Parnell The Ageless Athlete Blog Post 04/2-2

Chapter 14

The Stroke (Part 2 of 2)

They put me in the Jeep and drove directly to Urgent Care in Cochrane. Within two minutes I was in a bed and 20 minutes later the ambulance was on its way to the Stroke Unit at Foothills Medical Centre. For the next two days I was on a cocktail of drugs and underwent language, reading and writing testing.

At 12:38 p.m. on October 30 I left the hospital. This is part of what it said on my discharge sheet:......

Continue Blog


Follow Martin’s incredible journey from learning to run at the age of 47

To running 250 marathons in one year, to travelling to Afghanistan to run a marathon in support of women and girls who run for freedom and equality. Over the 3 books Martin’s story gives honest and often humorous insight into why an ordinary person would attempt to do something extraordinary, pushing themselves to the limit, both mentally and physically, in pursuit of their goal to make the world a better place.

Martin Parnell Marathon Quest Book Image Buy Now
Martin Parnell Running to the Edge Book Image Buy Now
Martin Parnell The Secret Marathon Book Image Buy Now

Giving Back

Canadian Woman for Woman in Afghanistan

Donations to CW4WAfghan have helped improve the lives of tens of thousands of Afghan women and girls. Over the past two decades, CW4WAfghan’s work has helped raise the country’s literacy rate, improve the quality of teaching, promoted reading and access to books, and put learning in the hands of students, teachers and anyone with a curious mind by adapting new technologies to help realize the right to education in Afghanistan.

Donate Now


What People Are Saying About Martin

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Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"Martin Parnell's presence at the Alberta Association of Recreation Facility Personnel 45th annual Conference in Lethbridge, Alberta left an indelible mark on delegates, captivating their hearts and minds with his remarkable journey. The audience was spellbound as he shared his personal journey of recovery from a brain aneurism, as well as his story of running a marathon in Afghanistan to advocate for women's rights. His presence had not only enriched the AARFP Conference & Trade Show but had left an enduring legacy that would shape the hearts and minds of delegates for years to come"

John Napier

Technical Director, Alberta Association of Recreation Facility Personnel

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"Martin Parnell has a terrific keynote speech with several Big Reveals. Rarely do I hear original content like this. His story inspires and motivates everyone in the room. I highly recommend his terrific TEDx talk"

Michael Angelo Caruso

American speaker and author of "Work Hacks"

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"Martin Parnell was a keynote presentation at our Recreation and Parks Annual Conference.  Martin is an excellent story teller with a great story to tell!  His presentation was fun, engaging and inspiring. Many of our conference delegates remarked on Martin’s great presentation and have asked for more information about Martin and Right To Play.  Martin took the time to meet with our delegates before and after his presentation and was a positive force during our conference.  Make sure you get a chance to hear Martin’s story!"

Geoff Ray

Executive Director, NWT Recreation and Parks Association, Fort Smith, NWT

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"Martin keynoted at our annual PSAUK 'Live' Convention in London to huge acclaim.  On a stage where the Queen and Sir Winston Churchill once addressed, his rich blend of storytelling and humour was wonderful to see.  I sincerely hope he will return to the UK soon to inspire and enthuse us all again."

Geoff Ramm

Professional Speakers Association, UK National President, London, England

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"Martin was the keynote speaker for our Client Appreciation Evening. His personal story and message of hope and achieving seemingly impossible goals was tremendously inspiring. Martin also interacted with our clients throughout the evening and personally signed copies of his latest book. The evening was extremely well received and could not have been better. A consummate professional, Martin will deliver. I give Martin my strongest recommendation and suggest booking him well in advance to avoid disappointment."

Shamez Kassam

Managing Partner, Raymond James Wealth Management, Calgary, Alberta

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"A brilliant speaker with an ability to connect and completely engage his audience.  Martin provides an uplifting and powerful message that brings to life an amazing story. Martin’s pursuit of his personal potential encourages everyone to live bold and look for success. Yes, the evaluations were glowing!  Well deserved."

Susanne Moore

Recreation Director, Recreation Connections Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"Thank you for speaking at the HRIA Conference. Your closing keynote presentation was both uplifting and inspirational. The attendees enjoyed your message and it was evident by the number of questions and audience interaction at the end that you made an impact on them. The feedback from attendees was positive and includes comments such as: “Martin’s inspirational keynote about overcoming challenges and staying true to yourself were a perfect closing”, “Parnell was inspirational”, “martin was inspirational and exactly what I expected”. It was a pleasure working with you."

Jenny Chapman

Human Resources Institute of Alberta Manager, HRIA Conference, Calgary, Alberta

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"Martin Parnell as “International Speaker” does not disappoint. Parnell spoke at the Rotary District Conference in Cornwall, England and surpassed all expectations. He is an accomplished, entertaining, amusing and inspirational speaker who adapts to his audience.

Even after running a marathon a day for several days and then 30 miles (50 km) immediately before his presentation he is sparkling, polished and motivating. His USP is that he is not just talking about what he has done, he is talking about what he is doing – a testament to true grit and determination to complete a quest to help children out of poverty the best way he can..

The most powerful testimonial was from a 3 yr old who said “after I speak to Rotary I am going to go running”. Parnell, suitable for all ages – you bet!"

Stephen Lay

Rotary District Governor 1175, District Conference, Cornwall, England

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"Martin Parnell's Goal Setting workshop at the Cochrane Business Network was a game-changer today. His practical insights and simple worksheet provided actionable strategies for achieving meaningful goals. Highly recommended for anyone looking to elevate their goal-setting skills. We could take vague and general hopes in our businesses and change them into achievable goals."

Mark Eaton

Founder, Cochrane Business Network, Cochrane, Alberta

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"Martin’s keynote presentation at our annual conference was the closing session of the weekend. We were seeking an inspiring message that would resonate with our audience and send people on the way home with renewed energy and hope. Martin’s personal story of his journey to physical activity, his work with Right to Play and subsequently the Secret Marathon were exactly what we were looking for. As an audience of health professionals, it was easy to relate to his humorous story of becoming a runner, and his journey back to running following illness. Funny, inspiring and relatable, Martin closed our event on a high note."

Leanne Loranger

Manager-Policy and Practice, College of Physiotherapists of Alberta Conference, Canmore, Alberta

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"Our team took part in Martin’s Goal Setting workshop, during which he led us through a series of exercises designed to provoke thought and examine our behaviours and habits. Goal setting is something we all know we should be doing, but why is it often so hard to implement and get results? As someone who has achieved so much, Martin is certainly qualified to educate on this topic, and his interactive and casual style gets people talking and sharing their personal challenges, which benefits everyone in the group. His teaching methodology is easy to follow, entertaining, and engaging. He shares personal experiences, provides practical advice, and helps to develop correct thinking processes. I would highly recommend Martin’s training – your team will be inspired to put creative solutions in place which will certainly benefit them both personally and professionally."

Tom Wilk

Owner Mountain View Optometry, Cochrane, Alberta

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"Martin Parnell is an inspiration to us all!  His down to earth way of presenting his life’s journey to the Leaders of Tomorrow youth nominees and their special guests was the perfect fit. How do you know what you are capable of if you never try? Wow…what a powerful message! Martin is an incredible example of stepping outside the box, setting a goal, and going for it…one step at a time!"

Brenda Dennis

Volunteer Services and Community Programmer, Family & Community Support Services, Leaders of Tomorrow Conference, Cochrane, Alberta

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"I worked with Martin directly when he was hired to provide the keynote speech at our virtual users’ group conference. Martin has a unique and inspiring story full of profound messages. He also has a way of telling it and mixing messages into his story that captivates and engages his audience both in person and virtually as he did for us. He is truly an inspiration and I would easily recommend anyone to engage him as a keynote or guest speaker for their event."

Richard Link

Client Relationship Manager, Avanti Software Virtual Conference, Calgary, Canada

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"Martin was the keynote speaker at our annual corporate gathering and presented his amazing story to our group. We had a very diverse group of people, with all of Centron’s office staff and site staff as well as spouses. This included everybody from the President and CEO to the site workers. Martin did a great job of connecting with the audience with a very interesting, humorous and overall, very inspiring presentation. We had a lot of feedback after the event from our staff remarking on how Martin’s presentation had struck a chord with them and how remarkable his achievements are.

Martin truly inspired us with his dedication to the Right To Play cause over the past number of years and the truly amazing adventures he has had and is still having. As Martin says, he is an ordinary person trying to do his part to help others who are less fortunate. He certainly is doing extraordinary things and through his example is encouraging a lot of others in a lot of ways, in addition to the children who are getting life changing help from the RTP programs.

We highly recommend Martin as a very interesting and inspirational speaker and fully support his Right To Play fundraising quests."

Wayne Benz

President Centron Construction, Centron Group of Companies, Calgary, Alberta

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"Martin has a great message and is a fantastic story teller.  He story demonstrates that with the right motivation we can do anything and that helping people can be something that is part of everyone’s day to day life.  I would highly recommended him for a guest speaker."

Suzanne Gaida

Senior Manager, Community Services, Alberta Association of Recreation Facilities Personnel Conference, Canmore, Alberta

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"Martin Parnell was our featured guest speaker at the Calgary Petroleum Club. Our event was our 27th Annual Member Son event and we had a “COVID protocols- in- place” sold out event. Martin’s discussed the Secret Marathon among many other important life messages. The audience ranged in age from 6-85 years and all were engaged. Martin is a true Canadian hero, and a great speaker. I would recommend Martin without hesitation. He is a true professional and a gentleman."

Toni-Marie Ion-Brown

General manager Calgary Petroleum Club, Calgary, Alberta

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"We wanted to host an appreciation event for our clients and as we brainstormed about themes, we kept coming back to wellness (health, fitness, wealth, family, philanthropy, balance...).  Naturally, Martin's name came up. We were honoured to partner with Martin in his fundraising efforts and to support his Marathon Quest 250 objective to raise funds for Right to Play.  Martin was a fantastic speaker, proving that anything is possible if we put our heart and soul into it.  His words and energetic spirit moved all in attendance to do what they can to make a difference."

Paul Vailliancourt

CEO, CIO, Canadian Wealth Management, Calgary, Alberta

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"Martin Parnell is an amazing speaker. He brings a wealth of Canadian and international experience, and a deep commitment to bettering the lives of children, coupled with enthusiasm, to the lectern. Martin has been running, and engaging in other activities for over a decade. He has run 250 marathons in a year, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in less than a day, and set several Guinness World Records. He has raised large sums for a children’s charity. He speaks with passion and commitment, with some humour mingled in, and has the experiences to back up what he says. He leaves listeners with a strong sense that we can all do something more to improve the world."

Dr. Carl Nohr

President, Alberta Medical Association, Sharing the Future Conference, Kananaskis, Alberta

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"Bethany Cochrane had the absolute pleasure of having Martin Parnell in for our guest speaker at our annual volunteer appreciation event. Martin’s story is one of giving back to the community just as our volunteers do every day at Bethany. Many volunteers had no idea who or what Martin’s story was about, but now they do. If anyone took away anything from his story, it was that you just need to get off the couch…small steps, one goal at a time. Thank you for sharing your story with us, our volunteers were inspired by your example. Keep up the great work and thank you for being a hero in our community."

Cora Schneberger

Coordinator, Volunteer Services, Bethany Care Centre, Cochrane, Alberta

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"Martin Parnell brought a message of perseverance, hope, and the tenacity of the human spirit. His story is a wonderful example of advocacy, and of the impact one person can have when they devote themselves and their time to benefit society across borders and cultures. Martin was a fantastic speaker and storyteller. The experiences of the brave women that he highlighted prove that anything can be possible when we put our heart and soul into it."

Diane Minamide

Event Organizer, University of Lethbridge International, Lethbridge, Alberta

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"Martin spoke to our staff and our community about the power of influence, grit and ideas.  He showed us that one person can make a difference.  Through sport he has worked to bring people in our world together and to give them hope and motivation."

Alison De Luisa

AVP Human Resources and Student Services, Cambrian Collage, Sudbury, Ontario

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"While at Westbrook my daughter Anna had a chance to run with you. She is dealing with Sensory Processing Disorder and physical activates can be a big challenge for her. Something clicked for her with running though. Her teacher was so impressed with you and your patience with the kids, and Anna's interest in running with you! She called me at home that day and I hopped in the van and drove out to the school to see my little girl running around that great big field. Wow, what am amazing thing to see, and her sense of accomplishment and pride over her achievement was such an encouragement for this mother's heart. You had said of my Anna to her teacher and I "She's a solid one that Anna!" Thank you for your encouragement to Anna, she was so thrilled to be able to run with you. Whenever we see a poster or you around town the van erupts into "Look, it's Mr. Parnell!!!!" We saw you this past week near Smitty's and rolled down the window to cheer you on, you even stopped to say hi - thank you for all you are doing for kids Martin!! Keep on running!!"

Kathy Laycock

Westbrook School, Westbrook, Alberta

Martin Parnell Testimonial Quotes Image"Thanks so much for coming to visit us at St. Jerome. Your talk was a great success. The teachers were so impressed with how you grabbed the student’s attention and how captivated they (students and staff) were listening to your presentation. Both you and Right to Play won new fans. We all want to see you return and tell us of your Kilimanjaro adventure and present Right To Play with our donation."

Mary Lynn Henderson

St. Jerome School, Calgary, Alberta
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