Over one year, Fast Eddy hopes to complete his journey
On Mar. 1, twenty-six-year-old ‘Fast’ Eddy Dostaler ran out of Clever Point, Victoria, B.C. towards St. John’s, Newfoundland. Dostaler has a goal to run across Canada, hitting major cities like Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec, Fredericton, and Halifax. But, running across the country one way isn’t enough for Fast Eddy. After reaching the east coast, he is going to run right back to B.C.
Why, oh why, would someone run across Canada and then back again? Only for a great and noble cause: to raise awareness for Breast Cancer and Alzheimer’s.
I spoke with Dostaler on his third day of the adventure, while he was ascending a hill (he really does not take many breaks).
Dostaler explained that he biked, ran, and swam for 16 months in preparation for this very long run. He had had the idea of running across the country since high school, but after learning of his grandmother’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s sixteen months ago, Dostaler turned the idea into a real plan. He hopes to complete the run — there and back — in a year.
“Obviously, there are certain aspects that can come up, such as weather, injury, that kind of thing — maybe there is just a really, really big hill that slows you down,” said Dostaler. “Nevertheless, I would like to see it done in a year. If it takes longer, then it takes longer, but I’m never going to quit.”
Fast Eddy is truly serious and dedicated. He has only fourteen days scheduled to take a break from running. That means he will be running for 351 days!
“I have break days with 20 or 30 kilometers,” Dostaler casually explained to me when I was flabbergasted by his schedule.
When 20 or 30 kilometers is a “break,” one shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the longest scheduled run is 79.83 kilometers, from Jasper to Hinton, Alberta.
Evidently, Dostaler is in good shape and well-prepared for this journey. Further to the extraordinary distance he will run, Dostaler is making the journey on his own. This means that there are no vans or buses following him on the road. He is responsible for pushing a jogger stroller that holds all of his supplies. Additionally, this means that he must be sure to take care of his body, even when he doesn’t feel like it.
“I’m literally on the left-hand side of the road, pushing this jogging-stroller up a hill right now, and I have to remember once I’m at the top of the hill to take a drink of water,” Dostaler told me.
He explained that he is making the run a solo project because he hopes it will bring more awareness to Breast Cancer and Alzheimer’s.
“It gets more awareness for the charities: Breast Cancer and Alzheimer’s. You make [the journey] as challenging as possible, and they stand out a little more, and that’s what it is all about.”
Dostaler was inspired by Terry Fox and Rick Hansen, two Canadians who had goals to raise awareness. Undoubtedly, there are many Canadians who have completed similar projects. Clara Hughes finished a bike across Canada to raise awareness for mental health. However, Hughes is a Canadian celebrity, while Dostaler is an everyday guy.
“Being an average guy works in my advantage in some respects. I want to try to inspire everyday Canadians…At the end of the day, people are going to look back at this and go, ‘He wasn’t a professional athlete. He wasn’t an ultra-marathoner. He was a regular guy going out and trying to make a difference in his community and his country. He wanted to try and make the world a little bit of a better place,’” Dostaler explained.
Dostaler has personal connections with both illnesses. His grandmother was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and a university professor of his, who recently lost a battle with cancer, had always encouraged him to act to raise awareness for Breast Cancer. Dostaler says that, though at first he had planned to raise awareness for causes with which he had no personal connection, the intimate association he has with both illnesses has increased his drive and will help him complete his goal.
“There are highs and lows in training, and there are going to be highs and lows along the way. You have to keep focused on what your end goal is: that, ‘why you want to do it’. If you’re doing it for a random reason, just because you feel like you made a difference, maybe that won’t be enough,” Dostaler explained. “Don’t get me wrong, I am not happy my grandmother has Alzheimer’s or that my professor passed away and wanted me to do something for Breast Cancer, but if it wasn’t for them being a part of my life, I don’t know if I would be able to complete this.”
Dostaler will make stops in cities along his path to speak and hold 24-hour runs to engage with communities and people.
“When people run across the country, it’s easy to see that there is someone on the road. But, [I want to] take the time to actually talk to someone. Talking does so much more than a dollar or a small donation…It’s great to see that there’s someone out there wanting to do this, but I am trying to literally have people come together and know that they’re not alone. I’m trying to make this as much about Breast Cancer and Alzheimer’s as possible.”
The 24-hour runs will encourage people to run with him, talk with him, and collaborate to discover what more can be done to advance research and innovation in the treatment of both illnesses. Otherwise, Dostaler is running alone, though he says, not averse to having company.
“I’m sure if people want to join in, they can join in. I am not going to stop anyone who wants to run with me, not at all. It’s a Canadian thing that we do, I guess.”
Dostaler takes safety seriously. He wears bright clothing, carries a Spot so his support team can keep track of him, and keeps in contact with family and friends. You can actually track him if you visit his website and click ‘Find Eddy’.
“I’m what I call ‘gumping it.’ I’m taking it day by day,” Dostaler casually explained to me when I asked him where he was sleeping.
He has been able to stay at friend’s houses thus far, but carries a tent in his stroller (which is awesomely named Aurora) just in case.
Dostaler’s drive and commitment do not meant that he does not miss his family or friends or that he is not nervous about running 134 kilometers up a windy and extremely steep hill at Princeton, B.C. However, he believes the risk is worthwhile.
“You have to take a risk in order to make a difference. The first step to doing anything is doing it: getting out on the road [and] taking that first step — and it’s got to be one of the hardest. I don’t have my dog here; I don’t have my family here. I am gone for a year; my girlfriend’s across the country.”
Dostaler firmly believes that the risk and the homesickness will be worth it, and he encourages all of us at the University of Regina to think similarly.
“Students are by and far the biggest influence in the world,” Dostaler told me when I asked what he wanted to share with us U of R students. “If they do something and they want to do something, anything is possible. I am doing this for my grandmother and my professor. It’s not going to be easy whatsoever, and I want them to know that any support would be great. Any donations stay local. So, Saskatchewan money stays in Saskatchewan.”
Dostaler, if he stays on schedule, will be in Regina on April 22. To stay tuned to his progress, and to get details on his 24-hour run in Regina, check out his website: www.fasteddycanada.com.