Edward “Fast Eddy” Dostaler is a man of his word.
The young man from Kamloops is running across Canada and back – or There and Back as his endeavour is called – not just to raise money and awareness for the fights against Alzheimer’s and Breast Cancer, but also, he says, because he told people he would.
“I gave my word,” he said during a brief stop in Kelowna Friday.
Standing in the poring rain, Dostaler said his run has been rewarding, frustrating and inspiring for him all at the same time, inspiring in large part because of the people he has met along the way.
On March 1, 2015 running solo and unsupported, Dostaler started out on his journey, leaving Victoria running east from the Pacific Ocean over the Rocky Mountains, through the Prairies, the Canadian Shield, around the Great Lakes, over the Confederation Bridge (the only-cross country runner to do so), and along the Cabot Trail to the Atlantic Ocean, reaching Cape Spear, Newfoundland, on Sept. 30.
And then he turned around and ran back.
“Fast Eddy” as he has been nicknamed, has now run from between Newfoundland and Alberta twice and it currently making his way across B.C. for the second time, with the plan to reach Victoria on Oct. 29.
Along the way he has run four 24-hour runs – in Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg and St-Johns – participated in the Relay for Life, the Run for the Cure, the Walk for Alzheimer’s and several half marathons, as well as many smaller races and runs.
He has even picked up bottles for recycling and helped injured or lost animals along the road.
“The people have been very supportive,” said Dostaler. Though he said he was disappointed in the small number of people who turned out in his hometown of Kamloops recently.
Along the way, Dostaler has made presentations to schools, talking to students about anti-bullying initiatives, self-esteem and the perseverance to follow your dreams, as well as Alzheimer’s and Breast Cancer awareness and his experiences during the run.
He believes that having the opportunity to motivate and inspire the future generation is one of the most important contributions he can make during the run.
After each presentation he encourages students to write down any questions they have. He takes great pride in having responded to over 2,500 hand-written letters.
A little personal touch that means so much, he says.
As would be expected running across the country and back, Dostaler has met a lot of people in the last year, including former prime ministers Jean Chrétien and Stephen Harper, interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, many MPs, senators and mayors and his personal his hero, former wheelchair athlete Rick Hansen, who also went across Canada in his wheelchair as part of his Man In Motion world tour in the 1980s.
Although the amount of donations raised by Dostaler along the way has been less than expected, the amount of support has been overwhelming, he said. Individuals have taken him into their homes, offered him food and shelter, shared their struggles and joys.
Though donations are important and the primary reason for the run, that aspect, the connection with people across the country has been the unseen success of the journey.
To follow “Fast” Eddy Dostaler’s run as it winds down this month, or to donate, go to www.fasteddycanada.com.