Cross-Canada runner, Cold Lake, Alta., facebook.com/runcurtisrun
Ever since Terry Fox first laced up his Adidas, scores of Canadians have made the gruelling trek across the country for a cause. But few have captured the media spotlight like Curtis Hargrove, the lanky, bearded Albertan who made headlines when he was arrested in Quebec last month for refusing to get off the Trans-Canada Highway.
Tangles with police haven't been the only stumbling block since his journey began in May – so far he has endured excruciating shin splints, swollen tendons, heat, storms and RV vandals while running the equivalent of a marathon a day.
Still, Mr. Hargrove, 23, is relentlessly upbeat and focused on his goal: raising $1-million for the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation, a pediatric hospital in Edmonton. Having passed the halfway mark in Sault Ste. Marie in early August, Mr. Hargrove is currently outside White River, Ont., and he hopes to make it to Victoria by mid-October.
I've always been a runner, competing nationally and internationally. I started fundraising at 15, when I organized a floor hockey tournament to raise $25,000 for a woman with cerebral palsy. At 18, I found out my grandfather had cancer, so I ran 1,450 kilometres in 34 days across Alberta and B.C.
Last year, I met Delaney Saunders, a 10-year-old cancer patient at the Stollery. She asked if I could raise money for kids, and that's when I decided I would run across Canada.
Partner in crime
I was in Newfoundland getting ready to start the run, and I found out I'd lost my driver at the last minute. I posted an ad on Kijiji, and Morgan Seward answered it. She's a music student who's taking the semester off to do the trip with me.
While I run, she usually drives the RV two kilometres ahead, except when I'm in town. At one point, my Achilles tendons were so swollen she had to push me into the trailer. A doctor told me I was crazy to keep going, but I was out there the next day, hobbling on crutches.
I've taken a lot of rest days, but it's been worth it just for the people I've met. In Sault Ste. Marie, I spent some time with Nathan Catling, who has muscular dystrophy. He came with me on the run through the city in honour of his late brother Skyler and his friend Joe.
At one point he told me that every night he prays for thunder, because it means I won't have to leave the next day.
What keeps you going?
Whatever pain I go through can't compare to what these kids go through every day. And they're still the most positive people in the world. The best moment was when Delaney got out of the hospital, she finally got to go to her first dance recital, and I was there.
My grandfather, who has been running for the Terry Fox Foundation for many years. One year, he had to be hospitalized for kidney stones. My mom snuck him out so he could finish the run.
"I'm not gonna let anybody down," he said.
I'm due to hit my hometown in about 45 days, which will be a huge adrenalin boost. On Sept. 21, I've got a court date in Quebec, but I've had lawyers across the country offering to represent me for free. I think people took it the wrong way – I was never disrespectful to the cops. In every other province, I've had cops hugging me and escorting me down the highway with motorcycles and cruisers.
I'm not sure what I'll do after the run is finished, but I want to speak at schools. I'm focused on being a positive role model to kids, and showing them that you can achieve anything you want to.