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Hockey players on ice for 11 days best world record in fundraiser for cancer

05/16/2012 01:51 EDT | Updated 07/16/2012 05:12 EDT
CHESTERMERE, Alta. - Lyall Marshall pushed harder through the pain, the numb toes and utter exhaustion whenever he saw his daughter's dimpled smile through the Plexiglas.

The geologist and 39 other amateur hockey players waited Wednesday for the final buzzer marking the end of what they believe will be the world's longest hockey game — while at the same time raising more than $1 million for children fighting cancer.

The game — totalling 246 hours over 11 days — ended at 6 p.m. for a shot at the Guinness World Records book.

"I miss my life, and I miss my kids, and I want to be home," Marshall said during a break on the bench at the Chestermere Recreation Centre, just east of Calgary.

"The world record is important, but I think it's more important everyone here is doing it for the kids."

His oldest daughter, six-year-old Diamond, is in remission from a rare form of adrenal cancer. She captured hearts across the country last summer when she darted out to greet the Duchess of Cambridge on a royal tour stop in Calgary. Prince William's new bride, Kate, spoke with the girl and gave her a hug.

"She's a little princess herself in my eyes," said her father. "She's an amazing, resilient kid who just goes through everything and anything that is thrown at her and keeps improving."

Marshall detailed his daughter's medical history: 13 surgeries, eight rounds of chemotherapy, several radiation treatments and a bone-marrow transplant. She is still undergoing some therapy in hospital but made a few trips to the rink to watch her daddy play.

Marshall says most of the men playing the game have someone in their lives with cancer — and that's what has kept them skating.

Most have stinky, swollen feet and blisters. Some have infections. Many are dehydrated and shedding weight.

Jonathan Hamilton broke his right ankle on the second day of the game but kept on skating.

"Anything we have to go through is pretty minuscule" compared to cancer treatments, he said.

Volunteer medical staff told him he should quit but he wanted to finish the game. Hamilton lost a close friend to cancer two years ago and his father is battling prostate cancer.

The group played in four-hour shifts and slept on cots in an adjoining curling rink. An army of volunteers made meals and washed dirty laundry.

An official with Guinness World Records said the last official record — a game lasting 242 hours — was set in February 2011 at an outdoor rink in Sherwood Park near Edmonton.

A group of women in Burnaby, B.C., reportedly beat that last fall with a game that went 243 hours but that hasn't been registered with Guinness.

— By Chris Purdy in Edmonton

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