category : ‘A Peek Inside the Covers’


TERRY FOX: THE HOPE AND THE DREAM LIVE ON

09.18.2016
Terry Fox Run South Surrey

Terry Fox Run South Surrey

Today is Terry Fox Run day across Canada and in many other places. Once again we joined the many others making this special effort to remember what Terry Fox did all those years ago to raise awareness and funds to fight cancer. The stories, books, movies about his life and his dedication are many. So, as I ran my 10K this morning I got thinking that Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes contains a unique contribution from Doug Alward, the friend who drove Terry’s van during the Marathon of Hope. More than being Terry’s driver though, Doug was a boyhood friend and brings a perspective of who Terry Fox was before cancer and before his amazing project took life. I decided the only thing to do then was to put that contribution up on the blog today as just one more little thing I might do in honour of Terry.

So, here it is, just as Doug wrote it. There are virtually no photographs because that is how the original was published. I want to thank Doug for this powerful and personal story, one that likely could not be written by any other person alive.

INSPIRATION AND DETERMINATION

 A FIRST HAND ACCOUNT OF THE TERRY FOX STORY

Doug Alward

 

“Anything is possible if you try…..

Dreams are made when people try.”

                                          Terry Fox, 1980

Terry Fox and Doug Alward - Where the Marathon of Hope began.

Terry Fox and Doug Alward – Where the Marathon of Hope began.

The Marathon of Hope to raise funds for cancer research began on a cold and foggy day in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Snow covered the roadside as winter still gripped the landscape.

Terry Fox dipped his artificial foot into the icy Atlantic Ocean, then turned landward to begin one of the most historic and inspiring runs ever. It was a run that would take him over 3,339 miles (5,373 km) across Canada through snow, wind, rain, and stifling heat before the cancer would strike again, killing his body but not his indomitable and enduring spirit.

It was a run that skeptics said was impossible. How could a boy who had lost one leg to bone cancer run a 42.2 km or 26.2 mile marathon EVERY day across hilly and mountainous highways, all the way across the second largest country in the world? Such a feat was considered impossible for most two-legged people. How could a one-legged person even think about it? Only one one-legged person, a man named Dick Traum, had ever tried a marathon on the primitive artificial legs available in 1980 and he had to walk much of the way. Terry was going to try to RUN a marathon EVERY DAY for several months. It was a run that would carry Terry Fox into the hearts of a nation and inspire millions of people across Canada and around the world, then and for decades to come.

As Terry’s friend and driver on the “Marathon of Hope for Cancer Research” and as Terry’s best friend from the age of 13, I learned much about his character and dreams. By sharing what I was so blessed to be a part of I hope to inspire you to reach out for your dreams, regardless of your present age, condition or situation.

One step at a time!- One telephone pole at a time!- One Marathon Run on one leg, one day at a time!- Over 5,300km across Canada through 100 km/hr wind, rainstorms, snow, -20°C late winter weather and searing 35°C summer heat; enduring freight trucks and inattentive drivers barreling along the Trans-Canada Highway at him; living in a small camperized van with the world’s worst cook (me) feeding him canned beans and peanut butter and jam sandwiches, Terry Fox ran a marathon a day for over 130 days taking only a couple of days off. Those “off” days were spent doing publicity events, television and newspaper interviews and meeting politicians and Prime Ministers. For Terry, the daily fundraising speeches and interviews were often more exhausting than the run. Miraculously, Terry Fox did it. He proved it IS possible to do the impossible.

When Terry first mentioned to me his idea of running a marathon a day, EVERY day, for 200+ days in a row across Canada to raise money for cancer research I never doubted he could accomplish such an unbelievable feat. Terry was always a possibility thinker. Terry believed in reaching for dreams with the abilities he had, not dwelling on what he didn’t have or what he might have done. I believed Terry could do it. Terry believed he could do it. The rest would just be detail and hard work.

To understand how Terry and I could believe such a feat was possible you have to know something of Terry’s background. When I first met Terry we were the only two Grade 8’s on the school cross-country running team. The school’s huge football coach who was our Physical Education instructor, semi-threatened us into joining the team even though running was not something Terry particularly enjoyed. In the first race of the year Terry came a distant dead last.

Untrained and new to competitive running, Terry was glad just to finish that first race, but he would not quit. With the encouragement and direction of outstanding teacher and running coach Mr. Fred Tinck (five of the athletes he coached went on to make the Olympic Games in various sports), Terry worked hard every day through cross-country and track seasons. By the time Terry was 15 he could run a mile in under 5 minutes. In other words, were it not for events yet to come, Terry was at the threshold of becoming an elite runner. But, as we know, Terry was destined to be not just an elite athlete, but an elite human being.

Similar to his efforts on the track, Terry improved dramatically as a basketball player. By way of a daily plan of training, believing in himself and just plain working his butt off, Terry went from being the shortest least skilled Grade 8 player (possibly in all of Canada), to making the basketball team at Simon Fraser University 5 years later. Academically, Terry went from being a 55% student in Grade 8 to holding an 88% average in Grade 12. Believing he could accomplish each of these goals, then planning and working towards them was the key to Terry achieving his dreams.

When Terry was 18 years old he felt a pain in his knee, a pain that got progressively worse over the next three months. Terry was stubborn. To him, pain was not to be a barrier to achieving his goals. He would not go to a doctor until he could no longer walk. Finally, after the doctors had done a battery of tests, Terry’s right leg was amputated a foot above his knee. Such a drastic measure was needed to try to prevent the spread of bone cancer that had started in his knee.

After surgery, several months of sickening chemotherapy treatments followed to try to kill any cancer cells that may have spread to other areas of Terry’s body. He lost his hair and vomited almost daily.

Terry did not dwell on his amputated leg and illness. He decided to get off his butt and show people what he could do. He said,

“I’m a dreamer, I like challenges. I don’t give up. I go all out…Nobody is ever going to call me a quitter.”

Terry focused on carrying a full course load of tough science and math courses at university. At the invitation of world wheelchair traveler “Man in Motion” Rick Hansen, he began playing wheelchair basketball. The British Columbia wheelchair team with Rick and Terry playing key roles, won the Canadian Championship three times.

After two years of treatment Terry vowed to do something to help all the kids he had seen suffering and often dying in the cancer clinic. He came up with the dream of running across Canada on one leg, doing a marathon a day to raise funds for cancer research. How could he accomplish such a feat on one good leg and a primitive artificial leg that was held on by air suction and a strap? The normal running gait was impossible so Terry invented a motion where he hopped with his real leg and swung the artificial leg through. Some people called it a triple jump and others appropriately called it the “Fox Trot”. One person said his running looked like that of a three-legged horse. To Terry all that mattered was that he was RUNNING. Problem number one had been solved by thoughtful experimentation.

The next problem to tackle was running a marathon a day. Terry had to come up with a training plan. He consulted everyone he knew who might be able to help him. Running and weight training coaches as well as nutrition experts helped Terry develop a plan. The first day Terry “RAN” just a single lap around the local dirt track and collapsed with an exhausted real leg and a bleeding stump, the result of the chafing of his stump in the bucket of the artificial leg. Terry went home with only one thing in his mind: a plan to do better the next day. The next day he ran two laps. After one week he was running a mile. By five months he was up to twenty laps a day. Terry said:

“I had some blisters man. It was like running on coals. I had some sores on my stump where the artificial leg was. They just rubbed raw and there is no protection. Sometimes the sores would bleed right through my valve in the bucket and the blood would run down my knee and my leg. I developed bone bruises. My toes and heel were totally blistered raw and I lost three toenails. I had shinsplints for two months…You have to get over a pain threshold. There were times where it really hurt, but I kept going.”

Then, with my crazy encouragement, Terry decided to pre-register for a 28km race in Prince George, BC on the Labour Day Weekend of 1979.   He still had two more months to increase his mileage and train his body. Slowly and systematically Terry increased his mileage to 18 km a day. Also, three times a week intensive two-hour sessions of strength and conditioning exercises followed the daily running sessions. These exercises worked particularly hard on back, abdominal, and lower leg muscles. Finally, race day in Prince George arrived and Terry ran the entire 28km without walking a single step.

Terry had now made up his mind. He would begin planning his run to cross the country at a marathon a day pace. The run would begin in April of 1980, just seven months later. He prepared a letter to get sponsors to help him in his dream. Terry wrote:

“The night before my amputation I read an article on an amputee who completed the New York City Marathon. It was then I decided to meet this new challenge head on and not only overcome my disability, but conquer it in such a way that I could never look back and say it disabled me. But I soon realized that would only be half my quest, for as I went through the sixteen months of the physically and emotionally draining ordeal of chemotherapy I was rudely awakened by the feelings that coursed through the cancer clinic. There were faces with the brave smiles and the ones who had given up smiling. There were the feelings of hopeful denial and the feelings of despair. My quest would not be a selfish one. I could not leave knowing these faces and feelings would still exist, even though I would be set free from mine. Somewhere the hurting must stop and I am determined to take myself to the limit for this cause…. I am not saying this will initiate any kind of cure for cancer, but I believe in miracles. I have to.

                                                                        Signed,

                                                                        Terry Fox (September 1979)

From September 1979 to Christmas Eve Terry ran 101 days in a row increasing his mileage from 10 miles (16km) per day to 20 miles (32km) per day by Christmas Eve. His mother ordered him to take Christmas Day off. Even when his wheelchair basketball team toured Washington and Oregon in early December Terry kept the streak of 20 mile days going by rising by 5 AM and running his miles.

Terry’s dream gave him amazing drive. He wanted to help kids dying of cancer. This dream kept Terry going through injury, lack of sleep and the pressures of university exams and term papers.

In his speeches Terry would often say that the pain he felt was nowhere near as bad as that of the pain the kids were feeling on the cancer wards. Some kids had tumors growing out the side of their head. Others had tumors throughout their body. Some would be there one week and dead the next. This suffering motivated Terry into action: one step at a time, one telephone pole at a time, one mile at a time. Now the dream was within reach. Running a marathon a day on one leg, across the second largest country in the world was just one step away.

On April 12, 1980 in St John’s Newfoundland Terry dipped his leg into the Atlantic Ocean. He filled a bottle with Atlantic Ocean water and tucked it away in the small camperized van we would share over the next several months. CBC television was there to capture the historic moment although much prodding was needed to convince CBC to have a film crew out to film such an impossible feat. A news reporter recorded the following quote from Terry:

“If it’s only up to me and my mind I‘ve got a lot of positive attitude. But you never know what might happen….I wanted to try the impossible…”

The first day fog limited visibility to fifty meters. The second day it snowed. The third day was sunny but with sub-zero temperatures that Terry said “Froze my balls off.” Seventy kilometer per hour freezing winds in his face made the running extremely difficult. On and on I watched Terry struggle. Day after day he accomplished the marathon goal. Day after day and step after step he captured the hearts of the kids and adults he spoke to at schools, receptions, and by doing countless interviews on radio and television. After three weeks he had run across the province of Newfoundland, a distance of 933 kilometers. By six weeks he had conquered Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. By seven weeks Terry had lost ten pounds, mostly due to my sub-par cooking. By eleven weeks Terry was through Quebec and at the Ontario border. Terry would say:

“I broke the run down. Get that mile down, get to that sign, that corner and around that bend.”

If I could describe Terry in one word it would be RELENTLESS.

Terry had accomplished what doctors, other amputees and skeptics had said was impossible. Terry Fox had proved them wrong. Now news editors hurried to record the story of the miracle boy who was capturing the imagination of people from coast to coast.

His story was simple. He had lost his leg from cancer. He had seen kids dying of cancer. He was determined to do something about it. He was asking people to donate to cancer research. A one dollar donation from each person was his goal.

His day would begin shortly after 4 AM. Before 5 AM he had to be at the spot on the Trans-Canada Highway that he had stopped the day before. In the pitch-black darkness Terry would step onto the highway under every conceivable weather condition. There were no excuses for taking a day off. Pain, blisters, and exhaustion were no excuse. A broken foot “MIGHT” be. Walking was NEVER allowed. He had to RUN every step.

Entering the province of Ontario in mid-July, temperatures soared upwards of 35°C. In major population centers thousands lined the streets to see and be inspired by Terry as he struggled onwards. Terry added several hundreds of kilometers to the run by heading south to Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton, and London, Ontario. Terry wanted to go to large population centers to inspire as many people as possible to give for cancer research.

Terry relentlessly fought onward through the hot summer finally nearing Thunder Bay, Ontario. At mile 3,339 (5,373 km) the cancer struck again. The bone cancer cells that had spread from his knee had grown into tumors larger than baseballs in his lungs, causing one lung to collapse so that he could hardly breathe.   The Marathon of Hope had ended on Labour Day Sunday, exactly one year to the minute that Terry had run his only race, on one leg, in Prince George.

The run was over, but the dream of raising funds for cancer research was not. Telethons and fundraising ventures spread like wildfire across Canada as Terry received treatment for the cancer that was now surely and steadily killing his physical body.

Terry died just before 5 am on June 28, 1981. Ironically, one year before at 5 am on June 28, 1980 Terry ran across the Quebec/Ontario Provincial border. Ontario was the province where the fundraising skyrocketed. It seemed as if Terry was asking us to continue his dream.

I was sad to physically lose my best friend, but relieved he was free of the horrible suffering cancer had caused. Spiritually, Terry’s attitudes and values continue to inspire me. Several times I have thought of giving up running as my aging body breaks down. Three years ago my doctor did a bone scan on my swollen feet and discovered the beginnings of arthritis. Muscle pulls, tendon problems and even a broken upper arm that sidelined me from any running for two months have slowed me down. Due to a modified training program, improved diet, the support of other runners, and Terry’s attitude to take “ONE STEP AT A TIME’, I have been able to achieve some of my best ever running performances. Recently, I ran a 1:17 half marathon at the age of 46.

Do you have a dream? Think of Terry’s perseverance against unbelievable handicaps: bone bruises, shinsplints and severe blister-like cysts on his stump that often bled into the artificial leg. Whether they be trivial or major, physical or mental, let Terry’s perseverance and spirit inspire you through your tough times and personal challenges.

Today, Terry Fox Runs are held in over 50 countries and have raised over $360 Million for cancer research. Terry is still running, still stepping one step at a time, one mile at a time. As Terry said:

“You only live once and if you want to get something done you have to do it while you have the chance.”

Terry tried and his dream to find a cure for cancer lives on.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Boy does Terry’s dream live on! Notwithstanding how we see it now, the early days of the Marathon of Hope didn’t produce all that much hope. Going was slow and so was the fund raising. Compare that to what we were told this morning: “Over $700,000,000 raised” and counting. I could have written 700 Million, but I think for this we need to see those zeros. Terry hoped for $1/Canadian. I wonder what he would think of this. If I understand anything about his spirit and determination, I am going to guess he might be thinking something along the lines of Great start, but cancer is still happening!

‘RITZ’ ENTERS THE WORLD OF THE E-BOOK

02.26.2013

As most readers know, this blog sprang from the book: Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes. Most readers also know that down to the right of the blog page is a link to Trafford Publishing, where it is possible to go purchase one of those old-fashioned hold it in your hand, turn the pages things called A BOOK. Some of you have even done that! We thank you.

More and more often though, I have been asked, “But can’t I get Running in the Zone as an E-Book?”. Well, until just a short while ago, the answer was “No”. I am pleased to say the answer has just become “YES”, and I must add, at quite a bargain, especially when you have to include the various shipping and handling charges for the paper version – and then wait for it to arrive.

So, if you had thought about buying a copy of this book with its 26 outstanding contributors including well known writers and runners such as Bart Yasso, Joe Henderson, Lynn Kanuka,  Roger Robinson, Don Kardong, Rich Benyo, Diane Palmason, Steve King and so, so many more, now is your chance. We covered topics from the how-to of it (Bart), through the long-term magic (Diane) and even the history, both ancient and recent (Roger). Once at the Trafford Publishing site, you can ‘wander around’ through some bits and pieces of preview material before you have to pull your digital trigger on a purchase. Almost like going into a book store and thumbing through a few pages of the paper model. And, if you are the kind of person who just doesn’t think it is a book unless it has paper, and covers and pages, well that option is available at the very same place. The choice is yours.

We are excited to see this option available and hope some of you will be too. One of the great things about the RITZ book is that it is really 26 relatively short and readable pieces by 26 different and authoritative contributors. Everyone was asked to stay to around 2500 to 3000 words, which is kind of what guides most of my blog posts. I’ve tried to stay true to the book format. So, if you like the idea of something with a bit more meat on its bones than the average modern blog piece and yet very consumable in a short time, please do go see what the e-version of Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes, looks like. We’ll be glad you did!

Running in the Zone Table of Contents

09.07.2010

This blog is based on the book, Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes and we regularly mention contributors to the book.  However, if you don’t already have a copy, well, you might not know a) WHO all these contributors are and b) WHAT they actually contributed!  So, here is a look at the actual Table of Contents and what our original group of contributors thought they should share.

RUNNING IN THE ZONE:

A HANDBOOK FOR SEASONED ATHLETES 

 

ZONES AND CONTENT

FOREWORD – Rob Reid

INTRODUCTION – Dan Cumming and Steve King

Running in the Zone a poem by Steve King

 

THE PREPARATION ZONE

The Seasoned Runner as Hero                            Roger Robinson

 

THE INSPIRATION ZONE

Inspiration and Determination – A First Hand Account

of the Terry Fox Story                                             Doug Alward

Will Power Can Make Things Happen                    Wally Hild

The Ancient Marathoner (Jack Foster)                    Joe Henderson

Trying Harder (Emil Zatopek)                                 Richard Benyo

Running: Reflections and Revelations                    Laurelee Welder

To Run or Jog                                                         Neville Flanagan

 

THE PERSPIRATION ZONE

Persistence or Non-Existence                                  Moe Beaulieu           

A Friend for Life                                                     Jane Ballantyne

Goal Setting and Adjusting Expectations                Bob Dolphin

 

THE CONTRIBUTION ZONE

Putting Your Heart and Soul Into Running for the

Most Mileage Possible                                            Rob Reid

Time and Knowledge: The Experienced

Athlete’s Gift to the Community                           Evan Fagan

 

THE PARTICIPATION ZONE

Meditation for Runners                                           Dan Cumming

Running for FUN in Retirement

(Fitness/Understanding/Nutrition)                         Maurice Tarrant

Age Group Athletes and the Search

for Fitness, Enjoyment and Better Health               Lorne Smith

 

THE COMPETITION ZONE

Competing at the Top                                             Paula Fudge

A Question of Retiring at 65                                   Herb Phillips

The Competitive 50+ Runner:

Setting Goals, Training and Racing                        Jack Miller

How to be a Faster Master                                     Bart Yasso

Aging Slower Than Your Competition                     Earl Fee

 

THE MOTIVATION ZONE

Attitude and Energy                                               Steve King

Motivation: You’re in Charge                                  Lynn Kanuka

Back on the Wagon                                                Don Kardong

Being the Best Runner You Can Be

at Your Present Age                                                Diane Palmason

They Call Me Marathon Mae                                   Mae Palm

The Race                                                                Bernd Heinrich 

 

THE RESOURCE ZONE

Age Class Tables

Web Sites

Books

 So, there you have it.  Every contributor had something valuable to say whether they were Olympians like Kanuka and Kardong or world record holders like Fudge and Heinrich, or professional writers like Henderson, Yasso, Robinson and Benyo OR simply avid runners (of course that would be all of us).  Now, when these folk are referenced in other posts, readers can at least see what the original input was to Running in the Zone.