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COVID strikes down runner's cross-country trek again

David Proctor now aiming for 2022 to break Al Howie's record
Dave Proctor 29
Dave Proctor training on the track at the Crescent Point Regional Field House in 2018 for his cross-Canada run. Proctor has put his 2021 attempt on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Brent Calver, Western Wheel)

The pandemic has stopped a runner’s record-breaking cross-country attempt to raise money for rare disease research for the second straight year.  

Okotoks ultramarathoner David Proctor has again cancelled his OutRun Rare cross-Canada run due to COVID-19. 

“The travel from province to province just seemed too difficult with all the provincial bodies,” said Proctor, who holds several Canadian ultramarathon records. “As well, the public anger and frustration that may come our way too...  

“With travel within country or outside of the country there is a lot of public outcry, and justifiably so.  

“We felt it was just not the right time to do so.”  

 Proctor was scheduled to dip his foot in the Atlantic Ocean on May 1 and make the trek to the Pacific Ocean in an attempt to break Al Howie’s 1991 record of running across the country in 72 days, 10 hours. 

Proctor attempted to run across Canada from Victoria to St. John’s in 2018 but had to stop near Winnipeg due to a bad back.  

Funds raised from Proctor’s 2021 attempt would have gone to rare disease awareness and research. His 12-year-old son, Sam, a Grade 6 student at St.Mary’s School, has RECA, which affects his balance and mobility.  

His team had contacted Atlantic provinces and Manitoba and discovered the trek wasn’t a sound idea in 2021.  

“They have all basically said ‘the rules will change from month to month – you can come and show up at the border but we don’t know what is going to happen,’” Proctor said. “For me to run across the country and then get turned away at the Atlantic bubble, it wasn’t worth it for us... So, we just decided to delay things for another year.” 

The team had a strategy already in place not to have any public events to keep things as safe as possible for COVID and instead would rely on mainstream  and social media.  

He admits he’s disappointed, but he is taking it all in stride. 

“It’s not in my control,” Proctor said. “I would love to do something like this, but I feel bad for charities that are pretty hamstrung right now and look at small businesses in Okotoks they are in just as bad a spot.  

“Me not being able to run across the country in comparison to other peoples’ problem is really quite small in the big scheme of things.” 

He is still putting in the miles. Commuters from High River to Okotoks can often see Proctor and his OutRun Rare Smithbilt cowboy hat running down the side of Highway 2A for a safely-distanced coffee with mom and dad, Nancy and Randy.  

He estimates he is still running between 200 and 220 kilometres a week. 

Proctor said he’s not too concerned about Father Time catching up to him.  

“Every year I have to delay this, I get a year older,” Proctor said. “I am fitter this year than I was last year and the year before that. It seems like I am getting fitter.  

“Instead of looking at this as a negative ‘Oh, shoot, how can I pull this off’ hey, I have another year to train for this.”  

The eclectic Howie was 45 years old when he ran across Canada.  

Proctor will announce a unique training running in the next few weeks. 

He is the current Canadian 24 (257.093kms), 48, and 72 (500.1kms) hour record holder. In addition he has set multiple world records for the treadmill 12 and 24 hours (260.4kms) and 100 miles (12hr 32min).



Bruce Campbell

About the Author: Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell is the editor for and the Western Wheel newspaper. He is a graduate of Mount Royal College journalism program, 1991. For story tips contact
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