Thursday, September 16, 2010

Remembering Terry Fox

It's been 30 years since Terry Fox had to end his Marathon of Hope -- where he ran 26 miles nearly every day for 143 days in an attempt to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. Running a marathon is hard enough -- but running on a prosthetic leg, and running every day for months and months? I can't imagine the strength and determination Terry must have had.

I have faint childhood memories of Terry's run -- and I remember when he had to stop, somewhere near Thunder Bay, Ontario, after running over 3000 miles. The cancer that took his leg had spread to his lungs. The image of him running -- with the hop-hop-step gait he had to adopt to give the springs in his leg time to reset -- has stayed with me for years. What I also remember is that -- though the running was so painful he said it took him about 20 minutes to "cross a pain threshhold" so the run became easier -- he also loved being out there running every day.

After he had been forced to end his run, Terry told a reporter "I loved it. I enjoyed myself so much, and that was what people couldn't realize. They thought I was going through a nightmare, running all day long.... Maybe I was, partly, but still I was doing what I wanted.... Even though it was so difficult, there was not another thing in the world I would rather have been doing."

This weekend is Terry Fox Run Day. All over Canada, people gather to raise money and run in honor of the man who in 2004 was voted the second greatest Canadian of all time in any field by his countrymen. It's sad that, apart from a run planned in New York in October, there don't seem to be any Terry Fox Runs in the U.S.

Care to learn more about Terry Fox? This great article ran in Runner's World back in 2007. I re-read it today over lunch, and sat there quietly sniffling. But also feeling very inspired.

Terry died on June 28, 1981. Next year's Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon/Half Marathon is three days before the 30th anniversary of his death. Anyone else up for running in Terry's memory next year?

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