Canadian ultrarunner Dave Proctor has announced plans to run a fastest known time (FKT) record attempt across Alberta. The TransAlberta FKT, as he calls it, is 537K long, and Proctor hopes to complete it in 72 hours or less. If he can break the record, he will add to a resume that already boasts multiple Canadian and world records in ultrarunning. Proctor is aiming for a May 1 start (although, depending on weather, he may start a few days before or after that tentative date), and he will follow the Trans-Canada Highway from Alberta’s border with B.C. all the way to its opposite border with Saskatchewan.
Before the pandemic, Proctor had scheduled a cross-Canada speed record attempt for May 2020. When COVID-19 hit, he had to put those plans on hold, and he had hoped that the 7,200-kilometre run would be possible this year. With the pandemic still raging across the country and so much uncertainty regarding province-to-province travel, he and his team decided to call the run off once again.
Proctor ran a cross-Canada record attempt in 2018, but injury forced him to stop after 2,400 kilometres. His goal for the 2020 and 2021 runs was to finish the cross-country journey in 67 days, which would better Al Howie‘s 1991 record of 72 days by almost a week. That speed record will survive at least one more year, as Proctor’s run will have to wait, but he says he didn’t want to let his training for the cross-Canada run go to waste.
“I have all this fitness, and I wanted to put it to the test,” Proctor says. “I wanted to go out and test myself with something really, really hard.” His original plan had been to run across multiple provinces, but when he changed his focus, Proctor says he zeroed in on running across just one. He will run the TransAlberta FKT self-supported, meaning he won’t have a crew meeting him along the route to give him food or water. Instead, Proctor will be in charge of all of his own food, water and other gear, which he will carry and push in a stroller.
“I have three stops planned where I’ll grab litres and litres of water,” Proctor says. “Outside of that, I”ll have chargers for my phone and GPS and G2G bars, which will be the only food I’ll eat on the run.” Proctor says he has determined that the stroller is the best way to carry his own supplies, and he notes that his friend and fellow ultrarunner Pete Kostelnick — who ran across the U.S. in 2016 in a record 42 days — has used a stroller before in his own self-supported runs.
When it comes to the TransAlberta record itself, Proctor says there’s no official FKT yet, and his could be the first official result. “The record could belong to me or Al Howie from our cross-Canada runs,” he says. “I haven’t looked up whose Alberta section was quicker.” It doesn’t really matter, either, Proctor says, because he will be running much faster than he did in his cross-country attempt.
“One long sustained effort is much different than a weeks-long run across the country,” he says. To complete the 537K route in under 72 hours, Proctor will have to average about eight minutes per kilometre throughout the attempt. He says this shouldn’t be an issue, and other than maybe taking a couple of naps “in a ditch,” he’ll run nonstop. If he can break that time goal, he’ll beat his own Canadian 72-hour record, which is 500K.
“The thing is, I broke that record in a six-day race,” Proctor says. “So I ended up napping quite a bit in those 72 hours. In a true 72-hour attempt, I think I can beat that.” He plans to run the first 100 miles of the TransAlberta FKT attempt in 14 to 16 hours (around 5:15 to 6:00 per-kilometre pace), and he expects to slow down in the next 100 miles, but not by too much.
“After 200 miles, I can’t really say what the pacing strategy will be. From there, it’s just a sustained effort and I have to hold on for dear life and pray that I make it in time.”
To keep up-to-date on Proctor’s plans for the TransAlberta run, follow him on Instagram. As the run gets closer, he will nail down an exact start date and publish tracking information, which will allow anyone to follow his record attempt in real time.