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Remembering Al Howie, one of Canada’s all-time great ultramarathoners

Canadian Al Howie, one of the country's all-time distance running greats, passed away on Tuesday in Duncan, B.C. at the age of 70.

Al Howie

One of Canada’s all-time great ultramarathon runners passed away on Tuesday. Al Howie, who in 1991 ran across the country in 72 days, averaging more than 100K per day, died on June 21 in Duncan, B.C. He was 70.

According to the Times Colonist, the cause of his death is unknown but it’s believed that he suffered from “unstable diabetes,” and that he had been “unwell for some time.” Howie was born on Sep. 16, 1945 in Scotland and moved to Victoria in 1978.

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One of Howie’s most memorable feats was a cross-Canada run that he did in just 72 days. The run, which began in St. John’s, N.L. and finished in Victoria, spanned more than 7,200 kilometres. He raised more than $750,000 for a children’s charity during his cross-country run.

He began his cross-Canada run on June 21, 1991, 26 years to the day of his passing. There’s a brass plaque at Mile Zero honouring Howie in Victoria next to Terry Fox’s iconic statue.

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Before the Commonwealth Games in Victoria in 1994, Howie set a world record for longest continuous run by completing 580 kilometres on the track, which he did in just over 104 hours. He won more than 50 races throughout his career and set multiple Guinness World Records along the way.

In 2014, he was inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame.