Thursday April 17, 2014





Neophyte runner finds his legs, running through Canadian winter

Fundraising through Kamloops

Cross-Canada fundraisers have become almost commonplace, but Jamie McDonald stands out from the crowd — running towards Kamloops in a superhero costume while pushing a baby stroller in the depths of winter.

He's been running to raise money for children's charities — hence the Flash costume to win young hearts and make him visible to passing motorists — since he laced up his track shoes in Newfoundland last March.

"It's been a bit of a surreal few days," he said, running along the Trans-Canada Highway on Tuesday between Field and Golden. "It's good to be back on the road."

So far he's been able to avoid the -40 C temperatures that have been hitting Eastern Canada recently, but he's had his share of trials, including frostbite on the Prairies and a New Year's Eve mugging in Banff.

McDonald started fundraising for children's charities because he benefited from such charity as a child. Suffering from syringomyelia, a rare spinal condition, and a weakened immune system, he was a frequent hospital patient for nine years.

Two years ago, in his first fundraising exploit, he cycled 22,000 kilometres from Bangkok to his hometown of Gloucester, England, an experience that changed his view of the world. Two days after completing that odyssey, he decided to attempt the world stationary cycling record and succeeded at 265 hours, raising more money for charity.

"Everyone said, 'What are you going to do next?' In my mind, I had the feeling, 'Haven't I done enough already?' "

To which his answer, obviously, was in the negative.

"I thought it would be nice to make a trip across Canada by fundraising for a different children's charity in every province that I run through."

He's doing the entire journey, including the fundraising en route, unassisted with only the gear he can carry in the stroller, something of a challenge itself.

"It's huge," he said. "I'm actually getting by on five hours' sleep a night trying to fit everything in. It feels like running is only a small part of this."

Supporters who've been tracking his progress occasionally join him on the road, running alongside for short distances. He does motivational speaking along the way, using his costume to reach out to kids.

He celebrated New Year's with a group of friends in Banff only to be accosted by a group of thieves who stole his most precious bag, including a hard drive documenting the run. He was able to retrieve the bag and its contents but police are still investigating the assault.

On the bright side, he received "an amazing response" from Canadians who sympathetically lent their support to the run.

"Throughout this whole journey, I've had 10,000 experiences of Canadian generosity that are so touching, so heartwarming. People are amazing."

B.C. Children's Hospital is the charity he's supporting in this province. For more about the run, to contribute or to track his progress, see the website jamiemcdonald.org. So far he's raised more than $100,000.

McDonald wasn't sure on Tuesday when he might reach Kamloops.


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