Intrepid Kiwi Jon Nabbs sets off on rare solo run feat, 8000km right across Canada

Credit: Original article can be found here

Kiwi Jon Nabbs left the eastern edge of Canada three weeks ago, in a bid to run solo across the vast country, while also raising money for child cancer.

So far he’s run almost every day since early May, but is still only about a third of the way across the large island of Newfoundland. He aims to reach Vancouver, on the western side of the country, during the northern winter.

Early Saturday (NZT) he made it to a town called Gander – 345km into the 8000km journey.

On his webpage, Nabbs said both his parents died from cancer in recent years.

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“I know the desperate feeling a family experiences when they receive a diagnosis, and the importance of continuing to find hope, inspiration, joy, and trying to live through that period on your own terms,” he said.

His aim was to raise $100,000 during the run to help child cancer patients in New Zealand and Canada.

Most of Jon Nabbs' route follows the Trans-Canada Highway, but there's a detour through some of the more densely populated parts of the country along the Great Lakes

Jon Nabbs/Supplied

Most of Jon Nabbs’ route follows the Trans-Canada Highway, but there’s a detour through some of the more densely populated parts of the country along the Great Lakes

Talking to Stuff on Saturday, Nabbs said the first week of the journey had gone well, after leaving St John’s, the capital of Newfoundland. Then his knee “pinged”.

“We didn’t expect how hilly it was going to be, coming across the Avalon Peninsula right at the start,” he said.

He had prepared for the possibility of injuries, and had spoken to a physiotherapist who told him how to strap the knee, and gave him some exercises to do to help it heal.

Fortunately it was a kind of injury that enabled him to keep running as it got better.

And while he doesn’t have any support crew, he is getting plenty of support from local residents.

“The people have just been unreal. They are just beautiful,” Nabbs said.

“It was raining cats and dogs today, and I had a cold wind. I arrived in Gander looking for a Tim Hortons (coffeehouse and restaurant chain).

“Before I even got in the door the locals were motioning to me. They saw me on the news last night.

“As soon as I walked in they were handing me donations. The cashier wouldn’t take my money.”

His bed at night is in a tent. “I’m pushing a pram. It’s got all my stuff in it … that includes my little, single man tent,” Nabbs said.

The route he was running along was surrounded by forest, and when he finished running for the day he went into the woods to pitch the tent.

“I’ve seen moose, so far. Haven’t seen any bears, but I’ve been told I’m in bear country.” Then there are the insects. “The bugs are just insane here,” he said.

Nabbs with the pram carrying his gear

Jon Nabbs/Supplied

Nabbs with the pram carrying his gear

And there’s the weather. “A couple of weeks ago, I was running past ice fishing ponds. We had a northerly coming off Greenland.” The temperature was 1C, but adding in the wind chill took it down to -7C.

Doing the run solo, without any support crew “certainly adds to the challenge”, Nabbs said.

“It would be so much simpler if I had a support van and could sleep in that each night, and had a support team cooking my meals.”

His intention was to run the whole way, “not a single step walked”.

“When I get to Vancouver and I go for that swim in the Pacific Ocean, I want to be able to say I ran every step.”

That goal came under threat early when the knee first got painful, and he walked for about 2km over a hill.

Nabbs has been sleeping in a small tent in forest alongside the highway

Jon Nabbs/Supplied

Nabbs has been sleeping in a small tent in forest alongside the highway

He had been “gutted”, but it had been the smart thing to do at the time to be able to keep moving, Nabbs said.

That wasn’t the end of the story. “When I got these exercises and strapping techniques from the physio at the end of the day, I found they worked surprisingly well.

“I realised I was still able to run a bit if I had it strapped and did these exercises… So I hitch-hiked back to that hill and ran it again.”

He was now back up to 20km a day, and aimed to increase that distance during the next month, to get to between 40km and 50km a day.

While he had taken a few days off early in the run, as he built his strength, the expectation was that in 3 to 5 weeks, “it will be a marathon a day, every day”.

So far he had been running 3 to 3½ hours a day. The aim was to lift that to 6 hours, he said.

Running solo, without a support crew, across the vastness of Canada, was something only 7 people were known to have done, none of them were New Zealanders.