Dave Proctor breaks record for fastest run across Canada



It took a little over two months to do it, but Alberta ultra-marathon runner Dave Proctor now holds the record for the fastest person ever to run across all of Canada.


The 41-year-old man from Okotoks, Alta. was overcome with emotion as he arrived at Mile Zero in Victoria, B.C. on Thursday, finishing off a 7,159 kilometre run he began in St. John’s N.L. 67 days and 10 hours prior.


“I feel the greatest sense of accomplishment,” said Proctor. “it really didn’t set in while I was running the entirety of Canada just how fast and big this was.”


“To the people that showed up for me on this trip, it warms your heart and it makes you want to show up for them, the fact that people are believing in me that much.”


Proctor smashed the previous cross-Canada speed record of 72 days and 10 hours set by Al Howie in 1991, running at a pace of about 105 kilometres on average every single day.


It was a physically agonizing journey, having completed the equivalent of summiting Mount Everest five times, going through 12 different pairs of running shoes and consuming upwards of 9,000 calories each day.


The run, though tasking on his body, was also the biggest mental test he’s ever had to overcome in his life. 


“There was pain present every single step but it was also about staying consistent and being true to myself,” Proctor said.


“There would be this voice inside me saying ‘hey, you should really stop and rest for another day’ but I never listened to it. I didn’t believe my own lie, that I was in trouble, because I was never once in trouble because I’m here, and I was doing fine.”


This was the ultra-runner’s second attempt at completing a cross-Canada run. In 2018, Proctor set off in the opposite direction, dipping his trademark cowboy hat in the Pacific Ocean and leaving from Victoria.


Following a 32-day run, a ruptured disc in his back forced him to stop near Winnipeg and put his dreams on hold.


That thirst for redemption would be stronger than ever in the years to come, as Proctor fought through his past failures and became an even more resilient athlete while running on the pavement.


He described the first 14 days of his latest cross-Canada attempt as some of the most difficult, but nothing was going to stop him once he got a groove going.


“The Canadian Shield is no joke,” Proctor said. “The hardest days were either in northern Ontario, or Newfoundland, because it’s so rugged, rocky and steep.


“I’ve just seen the most beautiful country in the world, and I suggest every Canadian do the same very thing,” he added.


“Don’t run it. Get in a vehicle and drive it, or go see a part of the country you haven’t seen,” said Proctor. “I just feel if I could do that, I could do bloody well anything.”


 ‘SO PROUD OF HIM’


Proctor’s girlfriend Lana Ledene was by his side the majority of the way, telling CTV News that she would often see two sides of Dave.


“One Dave was just this machine on the highway and the other Dave was this broken soul that got into the SUV at the end of a 107-kilometre day and could barely walk,” she said.


“I’m so proud of him and was just completely blown away by his resilience and his commitment to running every day. You’re stronger than you think and I know that’s cliché, but I don’t think I really understood or believed it as much as I do now.”


Other close friends and fellow ultra-runner Matt Shepard of Valleyview, Alta. were also inspired by Proctor’s incredible accomplishment.


Shepard met up with Proctor at the Terry Fox memorial in Thunder Bay, ON., running alongside him for nine days all the way to Brandon, MB.


“it’s almost robotic, because Dave gets up at the same time, and he does exactly the same thing. He eats the exact same breakfast. I mean, the routine is just like, minute by minute,” said Shepard.


“Just because he didn’t make it the first time around, doesn’t mean he was going to give up. He practiced, learned where his mistakes were and got even better because you’re better every time you try.”


Myron Tetreault also had the chance to run with Proctor as he passed through the Canmore area, overcome with happiness to see one of his great friends accomplish his lifelong goal.


“Dave has been dreaming of this for probably at least 10 years,” said Tetreault. 


“He had to have incredible mental fortitude through this run. He’s had many years to build up his body and his strength, but to withstand that many kilometres each day is incredibly inspiring.”


A MAN OF MANY RECORDS


Dave Proctor is no stranger to setting long-distance running records and is world-renowned for his talents while strapping on a pair of running shoes.


He currently holds Canadian records for the longest distance run in 24, 48, and 72 hours, along with a world record for the longest distance run on a treadmill in 12 hours.


This latest cross-Country run is the pinnacle of his running career, but Proctor is vowing to take a well-deserved break for now as he enjoys his favourite coffee in bed.


With this amazing run now in the rear-view, he has just one final message for those that have supported him along the way.


“When it comes to whatever goal it is, if it’s physical, if it’s school, if it’s spiritual, anything, it’s about tenacity and the ability and willingness to stick to it no matter what,” said Proctor.


“Just keep one claw in, stick to that dream, always have an eye on it, and years and maybe even sometimes decades later, if you work hard enough, you can achieve anything.”


This latest cross-Country run is the pinnacle of his running career, but Proctor is vowing to take a well-deserved break for now as he enjoys his favourite coffee in bed.


With this amazing run now in the rear-view, he has just one final message for those that have supported him along the way.


“When it comes to whatever goal it is, if it’s physical, if it’s school, if it’s spiritual, anything, it’s about tenacity and the ability and willingness to stick to it no matter what,” said Proctor.


“Just keep one claw in, stick to that dream, always have an eye on it, and years and maybe even sometimes decades later, if you work hard enough, you can achieve anything.”



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