In late July, Amanda Powell, my contact at Right To Play in Toronto, told me about a crazy Brit who was crossing Canada, unsupported, in aid of children hospitals in England and Canada. He had given a presentation at the Running Room to which Amanda belongs, about his hope to get to Vancouver by Christmas.
Jamie calls himself a "fundraising adventurer" and started his cross-Canada trek in St. John's, Newfoundland on March 9th. The next I heard about Jamie was from my running mentor Vince Perdue in Sudbury, Ontario. He had arrived in the city in the second week of August and received a huge welcome from the community. Vince told me to keep an eye out for the runner in a "Super hero outfit" pushing a baby carriage.
The months ticked by and Jamie kept going. Fall turned to winter and Jamie battled his way across the wind swept prairies towards Calgary. He's well set up on social media and I followed him on Facebook and Twitter. On December 18th he had reached Chestermere just 12kms outside of Calgary and the following day I headed out, with my step-son Calum, to find him. We didn't locate him on our first pass of the town but as we swung out to get back onto the TransCanada #1 highway we spotted him coming up the ramp.
He had quite the entourage with him, including two fire trucks and three members of the Chestermere Fire Department. After introductions and a big hug I pushed Caesar, Jamie's running chariot, for a while to give him a break. A crowd had gathered at the "Welcome to Calgary" sign and a huge cheer went up as he entered the city. I stayed with him for a bit longer and as we ran along the #1 highway we chatted about the biggest challenge he would face on the entire trip, the Rocky mountains. He said that he would take it a day at a time and somehow he would get through. After three more kms I wished him all the best and headed home.
Over the previous two weeks I had been in touch with Maryn Edwards, Jamie's PR person. Concerns had been raised about his attempt to cross the Rockies along the #1 highway, on foot, in the middle of winter. Maryn wanted to discuss the options with Jamie and I agreed to meet with them on a conference call with Brenda DeMone, Acting Field Unit Superintendent for Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks.
The discussion focused on the Glacier National Park. This 54 km section of the TransCanada contains numerous snow sheds and avalanche paths. Brenda had major concerns for the safety of Jamie, motorists and snow plough operators. The alternative route would be south down #22 highway and then west on the #3. However, this route would add another 320 kms to Jamie's cross Canada trip. By the end of the conference call, nothing had been resolved.
On Sunday, Parks Canada sent Jamie an application form for a special one day permit to complete, if he wanted to run through the Glacier National Park.
• The Special Event must include a support vehicle with flashing lights traveling immediately behind the participant.
• The participant must travel in the support vehicle through the five snow sheds in Glacier National Park.
• The participant must travel in the support vehicle when crossing the signed Avalanche Area - No Stopping zones on the highway.
• The support vehicle must not stop within the signed Avalanche Area - No Stopping zones on the highway.
Jamie spent the weekend in Calgary and headed out on Christmas Day, spending the night at the Western Heritage Centre on #1 highway. I headed out at 2.30pm on Boxing Day to find him. I figured he would have passed the #1 and #22 junction so I headed towards Morley. No sign of Jamie. I turned around at Morley and headed back to towards the Centre. I finally found him between the intersection and the Centre. He had only traveled about 14 kms. I took a turn pushing Caesar, and as we ran, I asked him if he had done anything with the permit for the Glacier National Park. He said not yet.
We stopped two kms up the road at a Petro Canada gas station and Jamie asked the attendant if he could stay the night. I had offered, several times for Jamie to stay with Sue and I, but he wanted to keep to his rule of not venturing more than 1km off his planned route.
The attendant couldn't help him, so he phoned a friend to bring a car for him to sleep in. Noel Eddy from the Cochrane Times dropped by and we had a great chat. It was time for me to head home.
It is definitely going to be an interesting month for Jamie as he traverses the Rockies and heads for Vancouver. All the best mate. Support Jamie as he raises funds for children's hospitals in England and Canada: www.jamiemcdonald.org