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Runner stops in Moose Jaw during cross-Canada fundraising trip

Rick Fall, 61, aims to raise $300,000 and split the money between Childhood Cancer Canada and Make-a-Wish Canada

It was an early start for marathoner Rick Fall on June 2, as he hit the highway at 6 a.m. as part of his cross-country run to raise money for sick children.

Fall, 61, aims to raise $300,000 and split the money between Childhood Cancer Canada and Make-a-Wish Canada. The Ontario man’s goal is to run 100 marathons during his excursion while covering 4,200 kilometres.

“Hot; it’s been hot … ,” Fall grinned as he took a break near the Mac the Moose statue. “The first leg of the 11 (kilometres) went really well. Glad it was only that length because the next one was even worse. And then I cut it down to 6K at a time before I had to catch up to the motorhome and (use the) outdoor shower wand to soak myself down.”

When Fall started his cross-country run in April in Victoria, British Columbia, he ran 16 to 18 kilometres at a time. However, those stretches shrank as he reached the Prairies and the heat increased, forcing him to stop and rehydrate regularly. 

June 3 is expected to be a scorcher in Saskatchewan, with temperatures predicted to reach 35 degrees Celsius. With that in mind, Fall plans to be on the road by 3 a.m. and finish the main run by 7 a.m. His wife, Colette, will drive ahead while piloting the motorhome. 

The goal is to reach Regina — the halfway point of the journey — by Friday, take two days of rest, and restart on Monday. 

Undertaking one marathon can be taxing on the human body, but to run 100 of them can leave the body feeling drained. To keep his body fuelled, Fall has been consuming large amounts of carbohydrates, protein and nutritional drinks, including electrolyte-infused juices. 

“What’s really refreshing is a (1.5-litre) fruit smoothie with protein. I usually have one on my second or third break,” he said, adding dinner is when he consumes larger portions of carbs such as potatoes and pasta. 

Fall thought it was unbelievable that he was half-finished his journey — his end goal is Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. — and was pleased that he had faced no real problems. Running through the mountains was not as tough as Fall thought; some days, he pulled of 50-kilometre runs, while he jumped ahead of schedule by three days since he took less time off.

One hair-raising part of Fall’s journey through the mountains was nearly coming nose-to-snout with a grizzly bear.

“It was a little frightening,” he said. 

Someone had warned him that the bear was two kilometres ahead, so he switched to the other side of the road and eventually saw the animal about 400 metres away. A motorist going the opposite direction offered to drive him past the bear, so Fall jumped in and safely advanced past the Ursus arctos horribilis.

Fall managed to run the daily 42 kilometres with relative ease upon reaching the Prairies, with one day a straight jog with no curves in the road. However, near Grand Prairie, Alta., wind speeds of 65 kilometres per hour nearly blew him over, so he put his head down and pushed through. 

It’s the kids receiving chemotherapy for their cancer that pushes Fall to run 42 kilometres every day. He pointed out that one in seven children is granted a wish through Make-a-Wish Canada, which can encourage them. 

“The pandemic has not changed their lives the way it’s changed ours. These kids are stuck at home, so it’s even more important to get more donations,” he added. “Things are tough; life is tough … you have to work through it.”

For more information about Rick Fall’s journey, visit www.fallorick.com.