Remembering Terry Fox

And Gabriela DuBues-Stafford broke the 5,000m Canadian record again.


A lighter newsletter this week, which is a nice break after a few news-heavy weeks recently! I’m sure they will pick up as we head into marathon racing season.

In this issue, I remember Terry Fox, share the rest of the notable Canadian Diamond League finals performances and share some interesting links and profiles I enjoyed this week.

If you want to reach out for any reason, you can email me at Thanks!

Remembering Terry Fox

Sept. 1 is Terry Fox Day. And Sept. 15 is the day of the national Terry Fox Run, where thousands of runners will line up to take part in Terry’s original vision: to raise money to find a cure for cancer.

Terry was only 21 years old when he finished his “Marathon of Hope” run across Canada early, in Thunder Bay, because the cancer had spread to his lungs. He was diagnosed with bone cancer at 18 years old. He had his leg amputated and almost immediately began thinking about running — and fighting for a culture along the way.

His Marathon of Hope began on April 12, 1980 in St. John’s. He ran pretty much a marathon a day. He had raised $1.7 million by the time his run ended. Even though he had to abandon the run, thanks to fundraising efforts throughout the rest of the year, Terry’s original goal of raising one dollar for every one of the 24 million Canadians was met before he died.

He was the youngest person ever named a companion to the order of Canada. He was also named Canada’s athlete of the year in 1980.

He would die less than a year later, at 22 years old, on June 28, 1981. The first annual Terry Fox Run was held that same year.

In a Globe and Mail article, Terry’s younger brother Darrell wrote about how amazed Terry would be at how big the movement he started has gotten:

I can hear him say the words that have been an inspirational call to action and purpose for many Canadians involved in cancer research and care: “I’ve said to people before that I’m going to do my very best to make it, I’m not going to give up. But I might not make it … if I don’t, the Marathon of Hope better continue.”

We now know that the Marathon of Hope will continue. We know it will continue to bring Canadians together in the search for a cure for all cancers on the strength of the vision, knowledge and expertise that defines the network of Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres. Thanks to the commitment to invest up to $150-million over five years – first announced in March by the Government of Canada – we are well on our way to funding the most ambitious nationwide team effort in the history of cancer research and treatment.

The legacy of my brother – which has grown over the past four decades with the now global reach of the Terry Fox Foundation and its nine provincial offices, and the innovation of the Terry Fox Research Institute and its six regional nodes – will now serve to accelerate the adoption of precision medicine across Canada through the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres network. As Terry’s family, we couldn’t be more proud and we all know that Terry himself would be so pleased to see his Marathon of Hope continuing in this highly collaborative way.

He would be smiling that smile.

Will Dwyer, who is 94 years old, has been running the Terry Fox Run and raising money along the way ever since that very first run in 1981. This year, 39 years since he started, he set the goal of raising $1 million in his lifetime. This goal was especially poignant this year because Will, too, has been diagnosed with cancer and it’s entirely possible this will be his last Terry Fox Run. From his fundraising page:

Will has cancer, but like Terry he’s not letting that slow him down. You’ll see Will out almost daily around the city to canvass different neighbourhoods on foot. He goes door-to-door, visiting almost every house. He’s even fallen several times, but just gets right back up and keeps going. Like Terry indeed. Will mission also touches home, having lost two sons and his mother to cancer. “What keeps you going?” Will’s son asks “To find a cure for cancer” has always been his reply.

As of writing this newsletter, Will has raised just over $1 million. Global News profiled his efforts:

On Saturday, a group of firefighters from CFB Borden will embark on a 20-kilometre trek to help him reach his target. They will also be joined by members from other nearby departments.

The journey will take them to the Barrie Cenotaph from the Borden Legacy Park war monument. A ceremony is slated to get underway at around 8:30 a.m., marking their departure from the base. In total, the walk is expected to take approximately six hours.

Will’s son, Robert Dwyer, is the deputy platoon chief with the fire department. He will be among the firefighters walking for the cause.

“He’ll keep going until he finishes it, I know he will,” Robert told Global News on Thursday.

“There’s times where he gets too tired and I tell him I know when it’s time to stop… he says, ‘No, he’s still good.”

Sept. 15 is the official Terry Fox Run day. Find a run near you here.

Gabriela DeBues-Stafford breaks Canadian 5,000m record again

Gabriela DeBues-Stafford ran in the Diamond League 5,000m final on Sept. 6 in Brussels. She placed seventh overall in the race, but her time of 14:44.12 is even seconds faster than her previous national record mark.

Last week, she ran the in the Diamond League 1,500m final and broke the Canadian record then too.

This marks seven times this season Stafford broke a Canadian record. She now owns five national records overall (she broke her own mark in the 1,500m and the 5,000m).

Stafford will run the 1,500m and the 5,000m at the world championships in Doha, Qatar.

You can watch the race below:

Andre De Grasse and Aaron Brown go 3-4 in 200m Diamond League final

Andre De Grasse ran 19.87 in the Diamond League 200m final. The mark was a season best for De Grrasse and was good enough for third place.

Aaron Brown ran 20 seconds flat to take fourth place. It’s the third year in a row Brown has placed fourth in this event.

American Noah Lyles won the race in 19.74. Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev placed second 0.01 ahead of De Grasse, crossing the finish line in 19.86.

Both Brown and De Grasse will be running the 100m and the 200m at the world championships in Doha.

You can watch the race below:

De Grasse runs 9.97 at World Challenge meet in Berlin

Stay Hungry, Stay Patient 🙏🏼
September 2, 2019

Diamond League finals wasn’t the only impressive performance De Grasse had this week. He also won the 100m at the World Challenge meet in Berlin.

His 9.97 time there was his fastest time in the event since the Rio Olympics.

"This was like a comeback for me, definitely," De Grasse told Canadian Press. "I am coming back from injury. My partner (American hurdler) Nia Ali is coming back from a baby, and we both made the (world championship) team. That feels good. This race gives me a good time before I race in Doha."

Aaron Brown also ran that race, finishing fourth in 10.08.

Perdita Felicen talks about growing up in poverty

Perdita Felicen, one of Canada’s biggest track stars, has opened up about her difficult upbringing. The two-time Olympian is now a broadcaster and hosts the podcast Off Guard for CBC Sports. She is now an advocate for the London, Ont. charity Mission Services London, which helps women and children living in poverty and in violent situations.

During a drive to collect school supplies, Perdita shared her own story. Her mother took Perdita and her siblings to live in a shelter to escape violence. They struggled for many years, growing up in poverty before track became a driving force, a stepping stone, and a source of success, for Perdita and her whole family.

"I've lived this experience," she said to CBC. "Because there was a place like Mission Services London in my hometown of Oshawa, it made a difference in my life." 

"If you can help one person, one Perdita, the benefits of that ripple out." 

CBC London wrote it up, and the video in the story is worth watching.

Elaine Hofer, Hutterite and runner, profiled by CBC Radio

CBC Radio’s The Doc Project, recently aired a profile of Elaine Hofer.

Holfer is Hutterite, a traditional Christian group not unlike Mennonites. The 38-year-old runs in traditional Huterite clothing. She said she gets plenty of stares but that running, despite being unusual in her community, is now essential to her well-being:

Elaine didn't know many other Hutterites who would go running during the day, particularly women. It took several years, but over time she stopped feeling self-conscious. She knows running makes her happier and healthier, which helps her contribute more to the community.

You can listen to the entire story here.

Becky Wade to run Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Feels like marathon season! 🛣 I’m stoked to be heading north for the Toronto Marathon on October 20. 🇨🇦 Check out my latest blog post (profile link) if you’re interested in why I chose @towaterfront42k and what I hope to accomplish there.🌟 Cannot wait. (Photo by @ufnoof)

#TOwaterfront42k #STWM #itsyourmoment #torontomarathon #runtoronto #runcanada #42K #canadianrunning #marathonseason #runtheworld
September 5, 2019

American elite Becky Wade is the latest international addition to the Toronto Waterfront Marathon elite field.

Wade, who is hoping to run the marathon for the U.S. at the 2020 Olympics, blogged about her decision on her personal website.

In sum the timing, Gold Label status, several Canadian women running with the same Olympic standard goal in mind and the ability to have her husband pace her were the deciding factors in selecting Toronto.

The Olympic standard doesn’t impact Wade so much anymore, as the U.S. marathon trials were recently granted Gold Label status. That means first five across the finish line are considered to have achieved an Olympic qualification mark and the top three get selected to the team.

In Canada, our trials are embedded in a larger race, so only the winner gets an automatic team spot — and only if they achieve the qualifying standard.

Still, it’s cool to see an elite American coming north to grind out a great marathon before her own Olympic trials prep. Wade wrote:

It’s a little early to talk specific goals, but I won’t let myself off the hook quite so easily. Without knowing anything yet about my fitness level on race day, my competition, the conditions, or any of the other dozens of variables that go into a marathon, here’s what I do know: I want to attack the Olympic standard (2:29:30), which would be about a minute PR and well within my wheelhouse. I want to work on my fueling strategy in training and in the race, as that’s something I haven’t yet dialed in all the way but should give me a big boost when I do. And more abstractly, I want to squeeze every last drop of fitness out of my body and set myself up for a strong showing at my next marathon, the 2020 Olympic Trials.

The Toronto Waterfront Marathon will take place on Oct. 20, 2019.

Ali on the Run podcast launches You Can Run a Marathon series

Ali on the Run is one of my favourite running podcasts. I like that in addition to her weekly regular interviews (where she interviews a mix of elite runners and regular-ish but impressive people who are connected to fitness in some way, like writers, editors and gym owners), she has done special series with different focuses.

I loved the first one Ask the Experts, where she talked to experts in a wide variety of fields, such as dermatology and physiotherapy. I passed on the second one, Motherhood Mondays, simply because I’m not a mother.

Her newest special series is You Can Run a Marathon. She’s breaking down marathon training with a series of experts ⁠— runners, coaches, etc. The first episode was with Alexi Pappas, an Olympian who made her marathon debut in Chicago last year. The next episodes were with Olympic alpine skiier turned marathon Chirine Njeim and Princeton Run Club head coach and aspiring Olympian Mo Alkhawaldeh. She also recorded a live episode with Meb which should be coming soon.

That’s it for this week! As always, thanks for reading and keep on running!