Skip to content

Running for his life — and those of the kids

Between the coconut water, jerky and trail mix, Jamie McDonald was eating like someone who just ran all the way to Valleyview from Pritchard. Well, all that way with a slight detour. Several kilometres into his run on Thursday, Jan.
/88661.ftimg.jpg

Between the coconut water, jerky and trail mix, Jamie McDonald was eating like someone who just ran all the way to Valleyview from Pritchard.

Well, all that way with a slight detour.

Several kilometres into his run on Thursday, Jan. 23, McDonald realized  something was missing from the baby buggy holding his tent, sleeping bag, food stores and other supplies — his phone.

“I’ve done it so many times,” he groaned between bites of pepperoni during a stop at Rivershore Nissan, where he received a donation. “I woke up and my head was in the clouds.”

Turning around added more distance to the day, but it’s dwarfed by the length of the 27 year-old British man’s full route.

For the last year, McDonald has been on a run across Canada in an effort to raise funds for Canadian Children’s hospitals, as well as for two UK charities.

Because of a rare spinal condition, McDonald spent much of his first nine years of life in UK Children’s hospitals.

“If it wasn’t for them, I might not be here,” he said.

In an effort to give back, he decided to bike from Thailand to England, then broke a world record by cycling for 12 days straight on a stationary bicycle.

“After that, almost everyone around me was asking what I was doing next,” McDonald said.

Already in possession of a Canadian visa he’d acquired years earlier with plans of being a backpacker, McDonald’s next target seemed clear.

On March 19, 2013, he dipped a hand in the Atlantic Ocean in St. John’s and headed west.

It was his first-ever distance run, much in the same way the trip across Europe and Asian was his first cycling trip.

“It’s a big part of my message that you don’t need to be a super athlete, you don’t need to be anything special,” he explained.

“You can just give it a go.”

That doesn’t mean the trek across the country has been easy.

For the first leg of the journey, McDonald was camping or sleeping in ditches and public washrooms.

Not so bad in summer, but when winter set in around the time he reached Winnipeg,  — and McDonald developed a case of chronic tendonitis in one foot — it looked like the journey might be at an end.

“It felt like that was when Canada really got behind me,” he said, noting people began reaching out, networking to find him homes to sleep in as he continued on.

B.C. presented its own series of challenges for McDonald.

“I had to head over Roger’s Pass and Parks Canada did not want me to run,” he said. “They made it very clear they did not want me to do this run. But, I had to finish it up.”

With snow covering the shoulder of the road and multiple tunnels to run through, McDonald was aware his life was in danger every minute.

“It was one of the toughest days of my life,” he said.

“Six per cent grade and I’m pushing a baby stroller that weighs 70 kilograms. So, it weighs more than me.”

Now on the home stretch, McDonald said he is finally starting to feel like the trip is coming to an end.

“Every single day I woke up, it didn’t matter how close I got to Vancouver, it didn’t feel like I could make it,” he said.

“But, yesterday was the first day that it dawned on my I’m actually going to do it.”

When he has reached the Pacific Ocean, McDonald suspects his fundraising days won’t come to an end, though he hasn’t decided what method of transportation will take him across the next country he tackles.

To learn more about McDonald’s trip, go online to jamiemcdonald.org.