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Dave Proctor’s cross-Canada run starts with hat-dip in Victoria

Ultrarunner begins cross-Canada speed record quest this morning

Dave Proctor
Dave Proctor (right) begins his run in Victoria early this morning. Photo: Stephanie Gillis-Paulgaard

Ultrarunner Dave Proctor dipped his trademark Smithbilt cowboy hat into the Salish Sea at Mile Zero in Victoria this morning at 5:45 a.m., as scheduled, to begin his quest for the cross-Canada speed record. Proctor aims to better Al Howie’s 72-day record, set in 1991, by six days while raising at least $1 million for research into rare diseases.

Photo: Stephanie Gillis-Paulgaard

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The run is called “Outrun Rare.” Proctor’s nine-year-old son Sam has RECA (relapsing encephalopathy with cerebellar ataxia), a rare disease characterized by motor and gait abnormalities that first manifested itself when he was a toddler and took six years to diagnose.

Proctor acknowledged Howie’s accomplishment, along with those of Terry Fox and Steve Fonyo, at the beach named for Fonyo this morning before setting off in the pre-dawn. He will be accompanied by his wife Sharon, publicist Stephanie Gillis-Paulgaard, and Wayne Gaudet in a support vehicle until he reaches Calgary (scheduled for July 6), where he will be joined by this three children in a second support vehicle for the remainder of the almost 8,000K run.


Howie, who was born in Scotland and died in 2016 at age 70, was an eccentric and legendary ultrarunner who ran the length of Great Britain as well as across Canada, long before ultrarunning went mainstream, routinely winning marathons and ultramarathons across North America. He fundraised for the Elks and Royal Purple children’s charity during his cross-Canada trek in 1991.

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Steve Fonyo ran across Canada on an artificial leg over 14 months in the mid-1980s to raise money for cancer research, his intention being to continue the legacy of Terry Fox, whose run across Canada was cut short by the return of the cancer that killed him not long afterwards. Fonyo has led a troubled life punctuated by violence and brushes with the law in the years since his run.