Following in Terry Fox’s footsteps

A pair of McGillians are part of a team that plans to run from Montreal to Vancouver to raise money to fight cancer.
The Montreal Runners (from left to right): Matthieu Blouin, Keiston Herchel, Marc-André Blouin, Akshay Grover, Muhan Patel and Declan McCool

A pair of McGillians are part of a team that is in its final preparations for a most ambitious undertaking – to run from Montreal to Vancouver. Inspired by Terry Fox, the six-member Montreal Runners will depart Montreal on June 1 and will arrive in Vancouver on June 30. Running as a very long relay, each member will cover 30 km a day for 26 days. The team will cover some 4,600 km by journey’s end, hoping to raise $50,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation along the way.

“The Run to Vancouver is a way to step out of my comfort zone and test physical and mental abilities,” says Muhan Patel, who is studying Mathematics at McGill. “It’s a challenge that pushes me harder than ever before. Terry Fox inspires us to do something extraordinary, which may encourage others to achieve goals that seem out of reach.”

Declan McCool is studying Psychology and is on the McGill varsity rowing team. McCool is training for the Chicago marathon, in hopes of qualifying for the Boston marathon.

“When I was a child, my mum brought me to the Terry Fox run every year,” says McCool. “Terry became my childhood hero, and the reason I started running. When the opportunity came to run across Canada, much like he did, I knew I had to do it – for him, for my mum, and for everyone suffering from cancer.”

Other team members include Matthieu Blouin, an Independent Studies at Concordia, and his twin brother, Marc-André Blouin, also at Concordia in Actuarial Mathematics. Keiston Herchel is studying Pure and Applied Sciences at Dawson College, and team leader Akshay Grover is a Communications student at Concordia University.

“At the end of Terry Fox’s run, he alone had covered over 5,000 km. We won’t go as far as he did. But we are inspired by his courage and discipline,” says Grover, who also wants to make a documentary film about the run. “It’s about taking a moment to step outside ourselves, joining a cause greater than ourselves.”

McGill grad Paula Moser, (M.Sc Comp. Sci.’88) is a big supporter of The Montreal Runners. Moser met them at a Terry Fox Foundation event.

“The fact that they chose cancer research is close to my heart. I had cancer, and so did my sister. Friends have died of it,” she says. “Twenty-six days on the road is a big challenge. They will need a lot of physical and psychological strength to finish this. They are menschen.”

Each day, the Montreal Runners plan to get up at 5:30 a.m., and run through heat, rain, wind, mosquitoes and horseflies. There will be two runners on the road at a time, with two vans carrying two runners in each, allowing them to cover 180 km per day while the sun is out.

In April of 1980 Terry Fox started his Marathon of Hope in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and was forced to quit in Thunder Bay, Ontario, when cancer spread to his lungs. Fox died in June 1981, at 22. Since then, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised $750 million for cancer research.

The Montreal Runners are selling T-shirts and holding fundraisers to cover costs. They are asking supporters for donations to the Terry Fox Foundation during their cross country adventure.

Supporters are invited to wear their Run to Vancouver T-shirts and help the team kick things off on June 1, at 6 a.m. by running the first few kilometres with the group. They start in Vaudreuil at 3100 Route Harwood #201, Vaudreuil-Dorion.

You can follow the Montreal Runners on Instagram, Facebook or the team website. and you can make donations to the Terry Fox Foundation.

Learn more about the Run to Vancouver by watching the video below.

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