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West's 'Forrest Gump' Jamie McDonald finishes 5,000 mile run across Canada

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: February 04, 2014

Intrepid Jamie McDonald  ran for 5,000 miles across Canada

Intrepid Jamie McDonald ran for 5,000 miles across Canada

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A fundraiser dubbed the 'British Forrest Gump' was celebrating yesterday after running the equivalent of 200 marathons across Canada – dressed as The Flash.

Jamie McDonald, 27, completed the epic 5,000-mile coast-to-coast challenge in 275 days, during which he was mugged, beaten up and forced to sleep rough. He finally crossed the finish line in Vancouver yesterday, becoming the first person to run across the country without a support team.

"I just can't believe it's over," said Jamie, from Tredworth, Gloucestershire.

"I have worked for so long and given this run everything I have, physically and mentally, that to finally dip my hand into the Pacific Ocean 11 months and the equivalent of more than 200 marathons after doing the same thing in the Atlantic Ocean is just incredible."

Jamie decided to run dressed as the comic superhero after a public Twitter and Facebook vote chose the costume for him.

He decided to carry out the challenge to show gratitude for the care he received as a child when he suffered from a debilitating immune deficiency and a rare spinal condition called syringomyelia.

Jamie has so far raised almost £150,000 for sick children's charities including Great Ormond Street Hospital and Gloucestershire's Pied Piper Appeal.

Jamie is no stranger to challenges, accomplishing the feat just two weeks after cycling 14,000 miles from Bangkok to Gloucester.

His father Donald and friends have flown out to cheer him across the finish line.

Mr McDonald spoke of the mixed emotions he felt at finally finishing, where he was met by dozens of journalists and members of the public.

“I just can’t believe it’s over,” he said.

“I have worked for so long and given this run everything I have, physically and mentally, that to finally dip my hand into the Pacific Ocean eleven months and more than 200 marathons after doing the same thing in the Atlantic Ocean is just incredible.

“I feel a real mix of emotions. I’m ecstatic that I have finished.

“I’m honoured to have met so many amazing people in what is truly a beautiful country. I’m humbled by the support people in the UK and Canada have given me.

“I’m hopeful that my run has and will inspire people to know that we can do whatever we put our mind to.

“And, of course, I’m sad that it’s over as it’s been such a big part of my life and I’m uncertain about what happens next.

“Even though I had no support team, I felt like Canada was right behind me, every step of the way.

“Thinking about all the people that have helped me along the way, whether it was offering a bed, or handing me a coffee, it brings a tear to my eye.

“It’s hard to imagine running in a more friendlier, supportive and hospitable country.”

The coast-to-coast challenge began in St John’s, Labrador, in March and ended in Vancouver after passing through mountain ranges, national parks and along highways.

The adventurer has battled temperatures of -40C, run through the Rockies during a harsh Canadian winter, slept rough, been attacked and given motivational talks at dozens of schools.

Mr McDonald has run for more than 2,000 miles with chronic tendonitis, gone through more than 10 pairs of trainers, became one of few British people to have been ’White Hatted’ in Calgary – joining the likes of Prince William and Kate Middleton – and also permanently injured and misshapen his foot.

He also pushed his 60kg (132lb) baby stroller Caesar, which contained all his possessions, for more than 4,500 miles. He began the journey by carrying a 30kg (66lb) backpack, but had to change tack when the weight caused an injury.

He has also recently won two major awards having been voted male runner of the year and won the Golden Shoe from Running Magazine. He already holds a world record for static cycling after he pedalled for 265 hours straight – the equivalent of 11 days – in 2012.

Mr McDonald accomplished the feat just two weeks after cycling 14,000 miles from Bangkok to Gloucester. During that trip he says he was shot at, arrested and slept rough.

He has been inspired by Canadian fundraiser and amputee Terry Fox, 22, who lost his battle against cancer in 1981 before completing the cross-country run after 3,339 miles. His foundation has since raised more than 500 million Canadian dollars for cancer research.

Throughout his attempt, he has kept supporters updated on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, where he posts videos documenting his efforts.

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