Testing personal limits on Terry Fox Run
Fifteen Island runners chose to tack on an added challenge - they ran 50 km, starting from Tidnish, N.S.
Others take the opportunity to test their own limits.
Case in point: the P.E.I. Regiment, which marched the 13 kilometres with 50-pound knapsacks strapped on each soldier's back.
"We have to do a battle-fitness test every year, which involves (marching) 13 kilometres over a certain time period. We thought we'd take the opportunity to do that and connect with the community here at the Terry Fox Run and to make some money for the foundations as well," said Lt.-Col. Donnie Walsh., shortly after the troops were played off the bridge by the Regiment band.
"Everybody did really well, I'm quite pleased. We kept everybody together and had the band out for entertainment as well."
As if the march wasn't enough, after arriving on the Island each member had to complete a drag exercise - where one soldiers pulls another comrade along the ground for 25 metres.
"We'll be sore for the next two or three days," said Master-Cpl. Calvin Arsenault of Summerside. "There were a lot of people cheering us on, saying thank you, even giving us high fives."
Much earlier Sunday morning, another group also set out to complete the Terry Fox Run.
These 15 Island runners chose to tack on an added challenge - they ran 50 km, starting from Tidnish, N.S.
"They have an 'across-the-border' race in Amherst and I realized you could cross three borders, it would add up to 50K, and you could do it during Terry Fox," said the group's organizer, John Van Ekris of Charlottetown. "Seven of us had done that distance before, but we brought eight new people over to the darkness. Everybody made it, most people are smiling and they still like me."
In case you're counting, the distance is nearly 8 km more than a full-length marathon.
Van Ekris said the runners all finished the 50K between four-and-a-half and five-and-a-half hours.
"We started at 5:20 (a.m.) under the stars and out in the country," said Kensington's Ken Taylor of the run. "You just grit your teeth and keep going. (Terry) ran close to a marathon a day, on one good leg - it was amazing."
Rebecca Pike is originally from Pennsylvania, and is also one of the group's youngest runners at 24. She began running to relieve the stress of being a grad student at UPEI.
"I met this wonderful running community and it just became a passion. John was talking about the 50K run he was organizing for Terry Fox and I thought, 'Why not?' she said. "I had never heard of Terry Fox before I came to Canada. He's really inspirational. If he could do what he did with one prosthetic leg, I can do 50K."
Thousands walk/run the Confederation Bridge Sunday
Thousands walked/ran on the Confederation Bridge Sunday during the Terry Fox event.
Fred Fox, Terry’s older brother, was among those who crossed the 13-kilometre span over the Northumberland Strait.
He said it was an emotional moment as the group from the P.E.I. side met the group that started on the New Brunswick side.
“Everybody was cheering everybody on,” he said in an interview afterward, sipping water in the shadow of the bridge on the New Brunswick side.
“It was a pretty cool experience.”
The Terry Fox Foundation says the annual event, which has become one of the largest cancer research fundraisers in the world, has raised almost $500 million over the years.
That money has been used to make important breakthroughs in the fight against cancer, Fred Fox said.
On Sunday, he marvelled at the number of walkers and runners wearing red Terry’s Team T-shirts, signifying they are cancer survivors.
“It’s a testament to how cancer research is working ... People are surviving their cancer and living longer,” he said.
“It’s pretty rewarding when you get people coming up to you and saying, ’I’m a live today because of what Terry did in 1980 ... It’s pretty incredible to hear people express that.”
Fred Fox, only 14 months older than his famous brother, said he was thinking of Terry when he was crossing the bridge.
“We did everything when we were together,” he said. “He liked to stay active and compete all the time... We challenged each other to do our best.”
Many others have followed Terry Fox’s journey from the start, including Bruce Moore, his high school soccer coach.
“He was an average kid who did extraordinary things,” Moore said in an interview, adding that Terry Fox was a gifted athlete who also played basketball and rugby.
“He was a good student who was on the honour role ... But he was very quiet, and always the first one on the field and the last one off. He led by example, rather than make a lot of noise.”
Moore and his family ran in the first September event in 1981 and have taken part or helped to organize every run since then in Fox’s hometown of Port Coquitlam, B.C.
Moore, who’s now 70, was later diagnosed with cancer. He says he strongly believes he’s still alive because of the money raised from the annual runs.
Meanwhile, Terry Fox’s parents, Betty and Rolly Fox, were in southwestern Nova Scotia to take part in three runs. The community of Barrington won a national contest to host the Foxes.
“There are few folk heroes in Canadian history as formidable and inspiring as Terry Fox,” said local councillor Shaun Hatfield.
Terry Fox was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer when he was 18. His right leg was later amputated 15 centimetres above the knee.
Three years later, wearing a new leg made of steel rods and a plastic bucket, he was ready to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research.
On April 12, 1980, he dipped his artificial leg into St. John’s harbour to mark the beginning of his Marathon of Hope.
His trademark hop-skip gait took him through six provinces, running the equivalent of a marathon every day — 42 kilometres.
But the country was shocked in September 1980 when word came that cancer had spread to his chest.
The young man was forced to stop his run in Thunder Bay, Ont. He died 10 months later, a month short of his 23rd birthday.
His 143-day marathon, covering 5,373 kilometres, still stands as an incredible feat that has inspired millions around the world.