By Christine Blanchette |

Marissa Cepelinski had the trip of a lifetime recently by participating with her fellow ultra marathoners and running for clean water projects in Ethiopia. Her team of 15 raised just over $102,000. It was enough to set up a school and a clean water well in the town of Hidri, Northern Ethiopia. Here is our Q&A interview about her passion for running, for charity, and her position as CEO of Capital Core Financial Group.

When did your passion begin for running/hiking?

I fell in love with the outdoors when I moved to Vancouver. After a few incredible hiking excursions, my activity of choice was adventuring to old-growth forests, mountain tops, glacier lakes, and experiencing all the other splendors that this beautiful province had to offer.

Which came first, your passion for running — or providing financial planning/services?

I was the kid who played banker not barbie. I loved playing with monopoly dollars as a little girl and always enjoyed numbers. Choosing a career in finance was an easy and somewhat obvious transition after graduating from Western University. I wanted to work with people and numbers so it was a perfect fit. I really picked up running after I moved to Vancouver in 2005. I constantly saw runners, rain or shine, I figured I should at least check out what all the hype was about.

How do you best combine both your passions?

I enjoy running for a cause and I enjoy tackling challenges. Running for me, and I imagine most people, is an internal battle more than a physical battle. It’s a “how committed are you to this goal” debate that comes up every rainy morning when it’s time to lace up. It’s the same with building your wealth. At times, it can be a struggle. We have to be extremely connected to the goal in order to stay on track. I challenge my clients to connect with their goals and commit to the plan that we build together. We can all benefit from guidance in some areas of our life. I enjoy helping people manage their money. The more I push myself physically and stay on track, the more this translates in my work where I help my clients stay on track with their finances.

When was your first charity run and how did it feel?

In January 2013, I went with six other friends from Vancouver to do the Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. My friend Graham finally convinced me after having heard a consistent “no way” from me over a six month period. I wasn’t even running five km at that time — I thought it was a crazy idea…so I did it. I liked the challenge. I wanted to show myself that the perceived impossible was actually possible. It was a six day stage race, averaging a marathon a day through the rainforest. The route is 230 km over six days. I got lost twice and turned it into 250 km. My feet were destroyed and my legs were cooked, but I refused to quit.

As a team, we got involved with Imagine1Day, a local non profit organization that directly implements quality education to Ethiopian adults and children. We built a fundraising initiative for the six months prior to the race. Why not combine running and raising money for a good cause at the same time? It added another level of purpose and challenge to the adventure. It felt amazing to run for a cause, I was hooked from that point on!

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