Dave Proctor checks his watch as he takes his first steps into his journey to raise awareness from Mile Zero in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday June 27, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Alberta man running across Canada to break records, raise money

David Proctor hopes to cross the country in 66 days and also raise $1M for rare diseases

The prospect of pie and a family reunion propelled Dave Proctor along the Trans-Canda Highway as he neared Calgary on his cross-country run.

The 37-year-old from Okotoks, Alta., is attempting to set a speed record crossing the country in 66 days, while raising over a million dollars for the Rare Disease Foundation.

His nine-year-old son Sam has a rare disease affecting his mobility and balance.

Nine days after dipping his cowboy hat into the Pacific Ocean in Victoria, Proctor was scheduled to reach Lake Louise, Alta., on Thursday.

He must average about 108 kilometres per day to reach St. John’s N.L., by Aug. 31, which would beat the record of 72 days 10 hours set by Al Howie in 1991.

Proctor said he was struggling mentally and physically a few days into the run, but felt his body and mind were starting to adapt to the rigours of his undertaking.

“When I get done tonight, I’ve got the most incredible carrot waiting for me,” Proctor told The Canadian Press while running towards Field, B.C.

“I get to have pie with my kids. I get to squeeze my children. I haven’t done that in two weeks. I’ll break down crying if I keep talking about it.”

When Proctor reaches the outskirts of Calgary on Friday, a team of scientists from the University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services will poke and prod him to study what mega-mileage is doing to his body and why he’s able to handle it.

His heart, lungs and arteries will be examined and blood drawn to look for signs of inflammation and stress.

“Dave is not an ordinary Joe like we are running and then getting tired,” said Dr. Antoine Dufour, who will collect blood samples from Proctor.

“He’s kind of a super-human if you will. Some things will be quite unusual with him in a good way and we want to find out what that is.”

Dr. James White of the Foothills Medical Centre’s cardiac imaging centre wants to study Proctor’s heart.

“It is certainly of interest to understand how excessive exercise changes the heart and how people like Dave are able to do what they do,” White explained.

“However, the effects of excessive workload on the heart and blood vessels can also tell us a lot about how the heart adapts to certain diseases.

“For example, if one of your heart valves is leaking it can become very similar to running a marathon each day as far as your heart is concerned.

“With Dave we are being given an opportunity to study how the heart changes over time to this kind of workload.”

Proctor’s vascular system of arteries and veins fascinate Dr. Aaron Phillips.

Prior to starting his run, Proctor did a VO2 max test to provide a baseline measurement of how efficiently he uses oxygen while he runs.

“Some of the most interesting results from Dave’s trial was that he doesn’t have a genetically remarkable maximum aerobic capacity, but what he does have is a high threshold where he can exercise at a very intense level without going into what we call borrowed energy supplies,” Phillips said.

“Dave’s able to exercise at an intense level and it’s almost like he’s walking. He could do it all day.”

Since Proctor is running to raise money for research, he was willing to offer up his body for it, albeit different research.

“Research is exactly one of the reasons why rare disease is as big of a struggle as it is right now,” Proctor said.

“I’m a geek and I absolutely love hearing about research like this. When I have the opportunity to be poked and prodded because of really a once-in-a-lifetime thing, absolutely put me on the list.”

Anxiety over what he was attempting disturbed his sleep his first few days on the road. The fatigue altered his stride, which spawned painful tendinitis in his leg.

Proctor admitted to feeling doubtful earlier this week that he could continue, but his optimism was returning Thursday.

“The body now has come to grips in my opinion. Everything is getting into a cycle that’s very manageable,” he said.

“The human body is capable of incredible things. Unfortunately we pull back and pull the plug way too soon before the body creates those adaptive changes.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Forestry workers set to begin job action in Kootenays

Operations in Castlegar, Cranbrook, Galloway, Elko, Radium, Golden may see job action this week.

Road trip comes to end with split for Grand Forks Border Bruins

The team is coming off its longest road trip this season.

Grand Forks high school students remember

The school and the Legion joined for the annual Remembrance Day ceremony.

Letter: English town remembers Grand Forks on anniversary of Armistice

Phillip Morris writes from Shrewsbury, England.

Children’s books needed for Christmas hampers

Considering donating some books this Christmas.

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact political environment

Media prefer ‘speed kills’ narrative, even when it fails to appear

Controversy erupts over Japanese flag in B.C. classroom (updated)

Online petition demanding removal has collected more than 5,700 signatures

Death toll rises to 76 in California fire with winds ahead

Nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire began

Most Read