Fundraising drive fuels 'Marathon Man'
One of the participants at the BMO Vancouver Marathon Sunday morning was Martin Parnell, a semi-retired Cochrane, Alta., resident on a mission of charity and physical endurance.
The marathon was Parnell's 74th of 2010, and he hopes to run another 176 before the year is out. The 54-year-old, who was dubbed the ‘Marathon Man' by his hometown newspaper, is trying to raise at least $250,000 for children's charity Right To Play.
The organization uses sport and physical activity to help hundreds of thousands of kids, many from the most disadvantaged parts of the world, to build core development skills.
With his wife's blessing and his doctor's approval, Parnell set out on January 1 – not exactly peak jogging season.
"It was -30, it was absolutely brutal. It stayed like that for a month and a half," he said. "I had a hydration pack and several times it was frozen solid, so I had no water. That's not good."
He runs five marathons a week from Sunday to Thursday and rests for two days. Along his journey, Parnell is also visiting about 50 schools to spread awareness.
"The schools are the highlight of the whole thing. They understand what I am trying to do," he said. "Some give me 25 cents, 50 cents to help the kids. It's amazing. They are amazing."
Early on, Parnell injured a muscle in his shin. He took about two and a half weeks off to recover before forcing himself back to work by walking eight marathons.
But now he's back on his feet. If he completes his quest, he will have run 10,550 kilometres this year – the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest five times.
He's got a long way to go, and so does his fundraising drive. Parnell says he's raised $22,000 so far.
"I sure want to increase that number," he said. "It's a huge positive thing for the kids."
More information is available at Parnell's website.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Leah Hendry