Alberta ultra-marathoner sets new record after crossing Canada in less than 68 days

Dave Proctor was overwhelmed with emotion as he joined a cheering crowd of family and supporters at Mile 0 in Victoria, British Columbia, on Thursday, 67 and a half days after undertaking a literal cross-country run from St. John’s, NL

The ultra-marathon runner and massage therapist from Okotoks, Alberta. appears to be the new Canadian speed record holder, smashing the previous time of 72 days and 10 hours set by Al Howie in 1991.

“It’s tiring,” Proctor, 41, said with a laugh when asked how he felt after arriving at the finish line in Beacon Hill Park in Victoria.

“I feel like I’m on top of the world,” he said. “Blessed to have this opportunity and grateful – just seen the most beautiful country in the world.”

proud parents

Randy and Nancy Proctor, Dave’s parents, said they were thrilled to see their son achieve such a noble goal.

β€œIsn’t it amazing? Randy said. “I didn’t think a human body could do that.”

“I just want to give her the biggest hug ever,” Nancy said, shortly before Dave arrived. “I’m so proud of him.”

Dave Proctor hugs team leader and girlfriend Lana Ledene after arriving at the finish line in Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park. (Adam van der Zwan/CBC)

It was the rider’s second attempt to break Howie’s record. He went the opposite way in 2018, dipping his cowboy hat in the Pacific Ocean and setting off from Victoria. But after 32 days on the road, a back injury he suffered just before the race got so bad that he was forced to retire.

“He broke a disc the day before he left,” Nancy Proctor said. “He got to the other side of Winnipeg and finally had to quit because his body started to rebel.”

Proctor said the toughest stretch of this year’s race was through Ontario. But a conversation with Fred Fox – brother of athlete Terry Fox, who ran the Marathon of Hope to raise money for cancer research – and the support of friends and crew members who helped along the way, kept him motivated as he struggled to cross the province in 20 days.

“Terry Fox taught all Canadians what courage and determination are. And that you really can do anything as long as you try to give it your all,” he said.

Proctor and his team left on May 15, said Lana Ledene, team leader and Proctor’s girlfriend. He ran an average of 105 to 107 kilometers a day, mostly along the Trans-Canada Highway.

The final leg on Thursday was 34 kilometers between the Swartz Bay ferry terminal and downtown Victoria on Vancouver Island.

“Because this is a speed record attempt, you want to stay as close as possible to that last route that Al Howie rode in 1991,” Ledene said.

Long list of accomplishments

It’s only the most recent of Proctor’s long-distance running feats: he also holds the Canadian records for the longest distance run in 24, 48 and 72 hours, and a world record for the longest distance run on a treadmill. rolling in 12 hours.

Ledene said Proctor had trained for years to achieve what was a “lifetime dream”, but it also required serious discipline and mental toughness.

For 67 days, he woke up at 4 a.m. and ate oatmeal before hitting the road. He would travel 10 or 20 kilometers at a time and meet his crew for a quick rest and refuel.

Ledene says Proctor used 12 pairs of running shoes and consumed 9,000 calories a day.

In order to maintain his calorie intake, Proctor said he “ate from bakery to bakery” as he crossed the country.

“Cinnamon rolls and scones, I still can’t get enough of them,” he said Thursday. “I can’t wait to eat a salad tomorrow though.”