There are nicotine patches, e-cigarettes, gum, medicine and even behavioral therapy, but quitting smoking remains a daunting task for many Canadians.

Now, a program launching in Manitoba is offering a different solution: lace up rather than light up.

Run to Quit is a federally funded program in partnership with the Canadian Cancer Society and the Running Room.

The 10-week plan challenges smokers to replace their habit with training to walk or run five kilometers.

“I’m not going to stand here and say it’s easy,” Lorraine Walton, the manager of a Winnipeg Running Room. “I know it’s going to be difficult. We recognize that.”

Organizers, however, are confident of the program’s effectiveness. And for good reason.

The Canadian Cancer Society said Run to Quit has already been a remarkable success in Ontario and British Columbia.

“Forty per cent of participants have quit smoking and 43 per cent are still running, on average, three times per week,” Kyra Moshtaghi, a program co-ordinator at the Canadian Cancer Society, told CTV Winnipeg.

The three-year, $5-million program attracted more than a 1,000 participants in 2016 alone.

According a study released by the society earlier in March, 91 per cent of runners who completed the program said they had at least managed to cut back on their smoking. Participants’ confidence to quit smoking grew from 67 per cent at the start of the program to 80 per cent by the third week.

While running may seem like an unconventional way of quitting, those who’ve used the activity to overcome the habit in the past say it’s easy to see why Run to Quit has been so successful.

“Whether it’s triathlon or Running Room and running, the community is just full of a bunch of great people,” former smoker David Wood told CTV Winnipeg. “They’re very motivating to be around.”

Wood, who started smoking at the age of 13, said he tried to quit several times. It wasn’t until he discovered running that he was finally able to kick the habit for good.

“I managed to quit my vice and embrace more healthy activity,” he said.

Now, Manitoba smokers will get a chance to do the same. Run to Quit participants can partake in the program through a series of running clinics held by the Running Room or complete the curriculum themselves through online instruction.

Those who make through the first five weeks will also be entered win $16,000 worth of prizes and a 2017 Honda Civic.

Those interested can register on the program’s website.

Run to Quit was launched by the federal government last year in a bid to lower Canada’s already declining number of smokers.

In 2015, Statistics Canada reported 15 per cent of Canadians were smoking tobacco, the lowest rate ever recorded in the country.

With a report from CTV Winnipeg’s Jon Hendricks