NEWS

Joseph Reid, Ontario Chiropractor, Runs Scotiabank Marathon Dressed As Gord Downie

The money is going to one of late singer's charities.

10/23/2017 13:18 EDT | Updated 10/23/2017 22:58 EDT
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Joseph Reid ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Oct. 22, 2017 dressed as Gord Downie.

Joseph Reid was in comfortable running clothes last year when he participated in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

This year, he wore a hat, scarf, shiny metallic pants and a cotton "Jaws" T-shirt. Oh, he also had an acoustic guitar.

The 38-year-old from Napanee, Ont. ran the 42-kilometre marathon on Sunday dressed as Gord Downie in tribute to the Tragically Hip singer, who died last week from brain cancer.

Reid told HuffPost Canada he had started planning the run over the summer to raise funds for Downie's Chanie Wenjack Fund.

The charity, named after a 12-year-old Anishinaabe boy who died after escaping from a residential school, is dedicated to Indigenous reconciliation and awareness.

Reid said he got the idea to dress up as Downie during last year's marathon after he saw other runners in costumes. After reaching out to the fund, he set up a website — filled to the brim with puns on the band's songs — and a Facebook page with donation info.

Reid doesn't have a confirmed total yet, but he thinks he raised in the "neighbourhood of five to six grand."

Toronto Star via Getty Images
Joseph Reid's run aimed to raise funds and awareness for Gord Downie's Chanie Wenjack Fund.

Despite the unconventional clothing, which is based on Downie's attire during the band's "Man Machine Poem" tour, Reid said this marathon felt easier than last year's.

"When you run a marathon with no training, it's purely mental," he said.

With twin girls and three jobs — he is a chiropractor, substitute teacher and volunteer firefighter — Reid said he had no time to prepare for the run, and had to focus on getting into the "right mind frame."

Downie's death last week — which Reid said was "obviously not part of the plan" — gave him the drive he needed.

It was like having Gord Downie on my left shoulder while I ran.

"You almost get angry to go out and do it, to kind of muster up that determination," he told HuffPost Canada.

"That was the inspiration, the motivation, the pick-me-up that I needed. I could feel that out there."

Reid's run wasn't a quiet affair. He blasted hours of the band's music from a speaker attached to his guitar, which was slung over his shoulder.

"It was like having Gord Downie on my left shoulder while I ran," he said.

Reid said his fellow runners loved the music, especially the ones who didn't have headphones to listen to their own tunes. He said some people ran by and made requests "like I was a DJ or something."

Toronto Star via Getty Images
Joseph Reid said he got the idea of dressing up like Gord Downie after he saw some runners in costumes at the 2016 Scotiabank Marathon.

Reid said his goal was to complete the run without stopping once. He did just that, finishing the marathon in four hours and 21 minutes.

Will he return next year? He's not sure.

"I think if I do it again, my wife will leave me," Reid joked.

He's keeping his fundraising website up in case there are more donations for the Wenjack fund in the coming days.