Canadian and world record-holding ultrarunner Dave Proctor, whose 2018 cross-Canada speed record attempt was thwarted by injury after 2,415 kilometres, has announced he will try again next year, starting on May 18. This time Proctor will run from east to west, starting in Newfoundland and finishing in Victoria, with the goal of completing the quest in 67 days. The current record, held since 1991 by the late Al Howie of Victoria, is 72 days, 10 hours.
Exciting news for @runproctor as the #Okotoks ultra-marathoner announced he will attempt to break the TransCanadian speed record! #OutRunRare #yyc #runyyc @OutrunRare @CTVCalgary https://t.co/7rukx9wKNS
— Mark Villani (@CTVMarkVillani) September 15, 2019
Inspired by his experience as the father of a child with a rare genetic disease (his son Sam, 10, has RECA, which stands for relapsing encephalopathy with cerebellar ataxia), Proctor raised more than $300,000 from his runs for the Rare Disease Foundation last year. His latest accomplishment was two world records in treadmill running, set at the Calgary Marathon expo in May: the 12-hour and the 100-mile, which he set at 153.8K and 12:32:26. Proctor holds the Canadian records for 24 hours and 48 hours on the road.
“I’m ready to take this on and I’ve got so much more in the tank this time,” says Proctor. “My body has recovered, and I am fitter than ever before, with more passion about our cause fueling me and the hundreds of communities supporting the run.”
The announcement comes on the heels of the publication of the first biography of Howie, by Jared Beasley, who stumbled upon his story in 2014 after meeting and befriending one of Howie’s competitors from the 1980s. The two men belonged to a small subset of ultrarunners who ran mind-boggling distances in the multi-day races of the 1980s and 90s, which have almost completely disappeared.
Howie was an eccentric and a loner, with a complicated personal history, who lived mostly in poverty. His habit was to start races at a blistering pace, creating a huge lead for himself before settling into a slower, more sustainable pace that he could maintain for days at a time. He met Terry Fox and Rick Hanson at the run that inspired Fox’s Marathon of Hope (the Prince George to Boston Marathon of 1979, in which Howie finished third). Howie was 46 when he set the cross-Canada speed record, and two weeks after completing the run, he broke his own course record at the Sri Chinmoy 1,300-mile race in New York.
Proctor will have to cover 105 kilometres, or the equivalent of two and a half marathons a day, to achieve his goal, which is to break Howie’s record by five days.
Proctor recently broke his own 48-hour record (unofficially) at the Six Days in the Dome event in Wisconsin, at which American ultrarunner Zach Bitter broke the world 100-mile record. (Proctor’s new record is 362.644 kilometres.) Proctor is now looking ahead to Laz Lake’s Big’s Backyard Ultra, which starts on October 19 in Tennessee.