School of 8
Road to Golden
Golden College Students
Jan 10 Run start to Rogers Pass with storm brewing
Jan 10 Rogers Pass Climb
Slush on Rogers pass
Jan 10 Rogers Pass (& overweight Caesar)
has zapped my legs completely. I'll be running my last
3 miles, on empty.
184th marathon, done. A slight falling
out with Caesar & relentless climbing which has taken
a big chunk off Rogers Pass. 16 marathons to go
Jan 11 In the parking lot @GCHeliski,
no running today, hwy is closed due to avalanche control
& (ridiculously deep snow).
Jan 11 Couldn't be trapped in a better
place, I'll be obese leaving here: “@GCHeliski:
Fed our new friend @MrJamieMcDonald"
Genuinely, grateful @GCHeliski resort
let me sleep on their couch - & now (with rooms available)
I've been upgraded.
Well, if I'm going to stay (or should
I say be stuck) in the beautiful @GCHeliski lodge, I'm
going to "earn my keep"
Heather Mountain Lodge
Jan 13 Heather Mountain Lodge
After a long day of work, our flash "Chef
Dan," who led the crew in digging out Heather #Mountain
Lodge today, sat down with the newly famous running legend
"The Flash - Jamie Mc Donald." These guys must
have called each other before getting dressed this morning!
we will miss you Jamie and your wide eyed
perspective on the immense #BC #mountains that we call
our backyard! — at Heather Mountain Lodge
Jan 7, 2014
After waking up in the Bulging Elk Guest House, Field,
BC - I was greeted with a lovely surprise to start the day,
an elk like chalk board that read: “Good Morning Jamie.
I hope you had a good sleep. Enjoy the rest of your journey.
You have inspired me. Susan.” Next to the message
was a $40 donation - I scribbled her message out and wrote
"Susan is awesome." Not only did Susan but me
up for free in her guesthouse, she donated too.
Heading out of the town of Field with a spring in my step,
I could hear someone screaming, but couldn’t figure
out what the commotion was about. I turned around and seen
a woman standing there and suddenly a kid came running at
me to say “do you want to come to my school, my teacher
wants to talk to you.” I headed over and met the teacher,
I was invited in and I began to chat with the entire school,
of eight kids.
The beginning of my talk, was about the cheese roll in
Gloucester, during my schpeel, there was one kid that wasn't
really listening, he bustled about doing handstands and
such. When I was finishing my story, I mentioned that there
were basically, only a few idiots that ended up ever agreeing
to run down the hill. Suddenly, the wiggler, flipped over
and fell to the ground. I looked around at the room full
of kids and said “see, this is one of those idiots,
he's definitely going to be doing it someday.” All
the kids started to laugh, which had there attention immediately
- I could then, lead into my true message; to go out in
this world, pursue our dream and make a difference.
The teacher was very keen on wanting to talk about the
incident in Banff, I did briefly talk on the matter, but
I mostly spoke about how amazing people are, across Canada
and the world.
I said my goodbyes to the kids and took off running, solo.
For the first time I was running alone in what felt like
weeks, it was nice. I quickly transported back to when I
had originally started the journey in Newfoundland, where
I'd be by myself for weeks on end. It's important that we
become comfortable, with our own thoughts.
During the first few kilometres, there were some brutal
inclines, that took my breath away. Being above 1000m, meant
that altitude was playing a factor, too. However, once reaching
over them, I was able to head downhill and views just seemed
to be getting better. In fact everyday now, the views seem
to become more spectacular. As I looked around, taking it
all in, I seen loads of streams running through the mountains
with many iced over. The water seemed so pure I felt like
sticking my head in most of them, but that would of just
been silly and most probably ended the run altogether.
With all the scenery had to offer, the miles seemed to
pass quickly. As I pushed towards mile 10 and no one had
Although the sun was beaming in my face it was still very
chilly, around -18C. I went to put sun cream on my shnoz
but couldn’t, the suncream was frozen stiff. I rapped
up my face with a scarf and went on. After the moisture
of breathing into the scarf, that too froze, as hard as
cardboard. I moved the scarf around in circles until eventually,
every inch of the scarf was frozen, which made it pretty
useless to protect my soon to be, red nose reindeer.
I battled on and soon it was turning dusk, getting darker
by the second. At this point, I thought I would have already
reached my destination but I hadn’t yet. I'd convinced
myself that I'd missed the turn off for the warm cabin that
I was supposed to be staying at. I became insecure, you
could say panicking a little, temperatures were dropping
fast and cars could no longer see me. I wanted to pull out
my flashing lights, the problem with this, would mean I'd
need my bare hands (which were already frozen) and pulling
them out, handling frozen equipment might send my cold hands
to the point of no return again.
With alarm bells going off, I started to sprint in darkness
and within minutes, my first car of the day pulled in, yelling
my name in a very strong British accent "JAMIE, I FOUND
YOU!" Totally relieved, I took my gloves off, grabbed
everything I needed (mainly lights) to run in the darkness
while my hands, as I knew they would, froze. I ran over
to the car to a familiar face, Sally. We gave each other
a big, British hug and I jumped into her warm car to bring
my hands back to life. She handed me a bag of treats from
the UK, the one that had my home senses turned on were a
packet of crisps, Monster Munch (pickled onion flavour),
the holy grail of crisps where you loose your taste buds
with one bite, for an entire day.
After my warm up and checking the google map to guestimate
where I was staying that night, I knew I was pretty close.
Just as I was turning off the highway, a man named Raph
asked if I was “that guy”. After a brief chat,
he seemed to know where I was staying and escorted me right
to the chalet. Once we got to the chalet, he asked if I
fancied coming back to his Woofing Farm, for dinner with
a bunch of backpackers who were all German. I was extremely
hungry, I immediately accepted.
During the demolishing of the Germans left over dinner,
we had some meaningful chat and I was able to share my story,
with Raph too. On the way back to the chalet with Raph,
he sparked a smoke that enabled him to become very wise
and deep. He then proceeded to tell me that what I was doing,
was pure art! Pure Art? I've never looked at it that way,
I couldn’t help but think, “really??”
Hmmph, I wondered what was in that cigarette?
I set the alarm for 6am, drank a litre of coffee before
going into my strengthening exercises. Sounds ridiculous
and feels ridiculous - like I need more exercise before
my run? Apparently, according to Athlete Academy, I do.
After the exercises, I began to head towards the highway,
which was an extra two kilometres (meaning 4km's) from running
to the location the night before, not that I'm counting
Lonesome again, I continued on tackling some major mountains
for the first few kilometres, with fresh legs, it wasn't
too bad. Eventually I reached a sign that read "10
mile downhill" which was going to lead me right into
Golden, BC which was where I would be staying the night.
Opening up my stride, running with speed on the beautiful
downhill, was exactly what I wanted to happen till the end
of the day. After 4km's though, it suddenly shot up, steeply
with the road bending around so I couldn't even see the
top of the incline. How could this be? "10 miles downhill",
what happened? I began to make baby steps pushing Caesar
as hard as I could, I ranted to myself and envisioned myself
ripping down the sign, taking a hammer to it. My mental
state flicked faster than a light switch, I thought about
going back, with my spray paint, to write "LIAR".
After my moody melt down I eventually made it to the top,
where I thought an escort vehicle would be waiting, or should
be waiting. I knew I was on a stretch where there was no
hard shoulder (after speaking with some park rangers) weeks
back, so I made a call the day before, to make sure I could
have an escort for this particular stretch of highway.
At the top, there was no vehicle so I waited a little while.
Little did I know, I had no signal for my phone, so I couldn't
call anyone to ask where my pilot was - I knew in an hour
or so it would be dark and that would be really dangerous,
too. So I ran, hard, finally the sign was being truthful
and I was full on sprinting, downhill. Whilst running downhill,
I kept waving my hands around like a lunatic, on all of
the blind corners so all vehicles could see me as soon as
possible, I think it was working, well kind of.
There were a few funny looks and close calls as I ran facing
traffic, sometimes, out on the road. It was frightening
from time to time, with lorries barreling around corners
- but I improvised well, by sprinting the sections with
no traffic. To settle my nerves, I kept singing really loudly
"Ain't nothing gonna break my stride...."
Arriving into Golden was a big relief and I ran straight
into an awesome hotel, Days Inn. They had dinner paid for
and everything on hand, if I needed anything.
With marathon 183 ticked off the box - dangerously no hard
shoulder, steep climbs and quite a bit of ranting. I still
can't believe I'm actually doing it.
8th January 2014, day off in Golden
Checking in to Days Inn Hotel, was the perfect entry into
the city, with two nights stay for free and just the amount
of time I needed to seek treatment for my chronic tendentious
foot, which I have continued to run on now, for four months.
Although I had arrived late into town, massage therapist
Nathalie Bertrand, came to my room to help between 11pm
- 1230am, I know (in the middle of the night), phenomenal.
In the morning, for an important interview with CBC, I
set the alarm for 5am to be ready, live on the early morning
breakfast show at 545am. Once up, I drank a litre of coffee,
without choice, I was up for the rest of the day - to only
realise that the time difference was one hour ahead (I could
have had an extra hour in bed).
Being up so early, I felt that this was my time to catch
up on blogging, I started to write, stopped, typed a little
more, stopped again - I couldn't do it. I've been blogging
now for 10 months, the motivation to keep this up is ridiculously
difficult. Most of the time it's after an exhausting marathon,
where I'm constantly battling to keep my eyes open. However,
that wasn't the case after all the coffee, but I just didn't
want to write.
Annoyingly, it's a catch 22 to keep up with writing, because
as mentally difficult and time consuming as it is - it's
also where a lot of my motivation comes from. Facebook and
twitter is the place where I hope to inspire people, and
then it's also the area where all the fundraising comes
from. I focused on this and reluctantly, squeezed out a
two day blog after many hours.
Straight after blogging, another massage came from Karen
Janicek, who spent some thorough time trying to recuperate
my legs, and especially my foot as best as she possibly
Next up was to be whizzed off to the elementary school
to motivate kids on the importance of movement. Towards
the end, I made half the school stand and jog on the spot,
while facing the other half of the school so they could
be the judges. When telling the kids to run faster and faster,
their smiles, obviously, became bigger and bigger. Making
it easy for the judges to notice what I want them to see.
"What do you see on their faces?" Half of the
school screamed "they're smiling." Once I got
them to sit down I then went into a passionate speech "every
time you're sitting, watching the tv, playing games, GET
UP and MOVE. We're supposed to MOVE, you only have to see
our faces, it makes us HAPPY! So, never ever stop moving,
no matter how old you get. MOVE, MOVE and MOVE some more.
After the talk, I was buzzing and moved onto lunch, at
the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, who wanted to treat the
Mayor and I to some fancy food, in the tallest restaurant
in north America, named Eagle Eye.
We took a gondola up to 8033ft elevation where the restaurant
sat. Next to it had a sign that read "Caution Avalanche
Control", which kind of freaked me out. However scared
I was though, I was certainly blown away by the surrealness
and beauty of the surrounding mountains, that high up.
The whole time we had a professional tour guide to add
to the experience, who even joined Christina Benty (the
lovely Mayor) and I for a top notch meal. It was great to
connect with the Mayor of a town who showed great enthusiasm
for what I was doing.
Christina really understood my caveman eating habits too,
at the beginning of the meal she already handed half of
her lunch over to me. I then began to polish everyone else's
left over lunch, who was sat with us once I finished my
dinner off. In the end I had four plates surrounding my
own and I used my hands to shovel everything in, poutine,
pork, the list goes on. Although in the classy joint, with
the Mayor, I felt my company was totally on my hungry wave
length, as Christina continued to stare in amazement at
where all the food was disappearing to. She said "I
could watch you eat all day."
Racing quickly to the next place, was another talk, this
time at the College of the Rockies, the students were studying
"adventure" tourism and they were older, 18+.
It hit a different tone, although plenty of laughter, the
questions became very deep and meaningful, especially about
the reasons why I am running for children's hospitals. It
showed at the end of the talk, when a girl came up to me,
crying, saying, "you've really touched close to home,
my family and I have been submerged in everything you have
spoken about. It's amazing what you are going, you have
no idea how many lives you've touched, you have to keep
going." While her tears streamed, it filled up my soul.
I wanted the whole world at this point, to feel what I felt.
That's what never leaves my burning desire to run and make
a difference, that's what motivates me.
I'd like to add a big thank you to Joanne Sweeting (from
Tourism Golden) for organising/arranging everything you
see. Joanne was contacted by some Momma Bears, and from
there Joanne just flew with it and done everything she could,
to create an amazing, inspiring and fundraising experience.
Before leaving town, I fitted one more treatment in for
my foot - a session at Golden Physiotherapy & Sports
Clinic, with Stephen Dykes. After he assessed my foot, we
spoke about it. The arch of my foot, has been under so much
stress, for so long that the inflammation and scar tissue
build up, has now calcified. I now have a huge bone spur
sticking out, on the top of my foot.
With 60 marathons to go, there was a decision to make (1)
stop the run altogether (because it would have taken too
long for the tendentious to heal properly. OR (2) to continue
on running, knowing that I could possibly leave damage for
the rest of my life.
As most of you know, despite the agony of running on it,
I continued on. Nobody knows though, that this hole time
I've had the thought of "possible permanent damage"
in my mind. It's coming to light, with my foot that's starting
to quite drastically, misshape, that the damage is taken
place. Stephen, done the best he could by taping up my foot,
for a quick fix and stayed very positive that a year of
rehab after this run, might leave me with a lasting foot.
However, I have accepted that this might not be the case.
I'm trying to show people we can do anything, if we try
- and with this, can sometimes be sacrifices. I made the
decision to continue on running to finish this journey off,
I wouldn't change that for the world. In the grand scheme
of everything, it's a foot, I have another one. As long
as I keep my mind open, this won't get in the way of future
challenges. I feel the difference this journey is making
to other people's lives and for the future, is worth it.
9th January 2013, smelling rosy to Rogers Pass.
Beginning my 184th marathon leaving from Golden BC, I feel
I'm nearing the end of the run. I can smell the Pacific
Ocean... ok, not quite.
Knowing that I was creeping up on Rogers Pass I prepared
for elevation hell but I found everything however, fairly...
cruizy. Was I climbing? I couldn't tell. Maybe I was just
feeling strong after my day off in Golden. For the first
time in the mountains, I was having a jolly in the Rockies.
Jollying along, a train eased past to my left, with gorgeous
mountains in the background and snow covering a "Christmas
like" tree, in the foreground - I quickly pulled out
my camera to take a shot, knowing this would be a once in
a lifetime photo, a framer, one to show the grandkids.
After being snap happy, I looked back on the camera to
see the photo that I had taken. It just so happened, that
one of the trailers of the train read "Canada".
I've seen picture perfect photos in books, magazines and
wondered if these locations ever existed, they do, and I
was seeing it in the flesh (see photo below).
Many miles passed by as I soaked up the beauty –
as well as recognising the potent smell of cannabis - or
what my nan likes to call it, wacky backy. Throughout Canada
I’d heard that British Columbia was the place where
everyone gets high and as cars passed, I could smell that
this was the case!
By mile 12, a car pulled in. It smelt like flowers. A guy
with really long hair and a beard was like "heeeeey
maaan, I seen you on the newwwwws. I think it's awwwwesome
what you're doing. Do you have a place to staaaay tonight?"
I said "I do, but thanks for the offer." As cool
as you like he then said "nnno worries, here's $20
for your cause. Good luck, maaaan." Maybe he was taking
flowers home to his wife?
Eventually, it started to become dark, luckily by this
point I managed to clock up enough miles that I was close
to the home where I’d be staying for the night.
Once making it to the turn off to the home, I ran over
some railway tracks and landed in the middle of an isolated,
quiet forest with some desolate buildings. It became eerie,
I wondered if I had the right place. As soon as I started
to question myself, like all humans often do in situations
like this, we begin to start thinking of the worst case
Frozen stiff, I envisioned an axe murder coming at me out
of the dark forest, along with some wolves for his protection.
As I was freaking out, a guy with a huge beard came out
of nowhere, "heeeey!" For a split second I thought
this was the nightmare coming true, once I heard "you
must be Jamie", my heart slowed again.
John walked me over to his home, situated next to the frozen
lake and I was warmly greeted by his wife Judy. As soon
as I sat down, John's opening line was "do you want
a drink?" I politely said "if you're having one,
I'll have one." John replied, "heck yeah!!"
While in someone’s home, if you want to connect with
absolute strangers you have to do as they do. I also talked
myself into it, I was another day closer to the ocean, I
felt like I earned it.
Leaving there in the morning, the climb of Rogers Pass
was well and truly underway, I was about to climb the furthest
I've climbed in one go for the entire journey, racing to
make it before a snow storm hit, which was coming in fast.
It was time to really put the strength of my legs to the
test and see how obese Caesar really was.
My lungs were blowing, erratically and there was no control
over the oxygen intake for the first few miles. I felt the
force of 70kg Caesar, baring down on me, with no let up.
Every quarter of a mile, maybe less, I had to stop to catch
my breath, before running on.
At mile 5, I was staring, I felt like I could have eaten
an entire bear, single handedly - which on the run is very
unusual for me to even want to eat. My preference, is building
a huge appetite and then stuffing my face at the end of
a run. However, I knew I'd burnt every last calorie in the
space of those 5 miles, I had to eat. When checking Caesar
for supplies, I found a tin of chilli tuna, canned sardines
and a bag of nuts, to fill the gap. As I spooned fish in
my mouth, it was slightly frozen, making the meal a little
disappointing. I quickly added in the crunchy texture of
nuts, which seemed to distract the nastiness of it all.
Immediately after the feed, I was energised and ready to
continue on up the steep accent to Rogers Pass. The breathing
was still heavy, this time though I managed to find a rhythm
and more importantly, a switch off from the suffocation
of oxygen, I somehow found peace.
Lately, reflection of my journey hasn't been happening
too much, maybe because emotionally I'm in the thick of
it, day after day. For some reason, the exhaustion of Rogers
Pass, had me in deep thought about how far I've come, the
people that I've met along the way and all the people that
have picked me up, when I've been down. Every step was gruelling,
or at least it should have been. Once I snapped out of my
memories, it saddened me to think that this journey is nearly
With reality kicking in and 8 constant, exerting miles
under my belt, I was back to thinking about the weight of
Caesar. He seemed to be upsetting me, it's a shame because
he can't defend himself. Caesar was such a burden, every
step he was making me suffer. I began to rant in a really
high pitch, soaking tone "why???? Why are you so obese!!!!
Dam you Caesar!!!" My arms began to burn more, I continued
on "ahhhhh, I hate you." I tried telling myself
repeatedly "it's not his fault he's over weight, it's
not his fault..."
After grinding out miles of ranting, the incline levelled
out to pretty much, flat. Running on flatter terrain, brought
hope that this run wouldn't be as brutal as it had been.
However, this was quickly knocked down by the soft slush
on the roadside. Now I was dealing with Caesar again, pushing
hard through the resistance of the slush. Also, his wheels
wouldn't grip, he slid everywhere. This seemed to send my
anger over the edge again, "it is your fault, you are
over weight, ahhhh!" Caesar, who's been my friend,
through thick and thin, not matter what - sometimes my one
and only friend on this trip - was now my enemy.
Down to my last 3 miles, I knew I'd be running on empty
and there's nothing I could do about my empty tank. All
I could do was accept, understand and hope that could continue
to run forward. By now, I've built up enough self confidence
to move forward, no matter how disgusted I feel with myself.
Sometimes you just have to hate yourself, and enjoy it.
During those last few miles, I kept this mentality all
the way to Great Canadian Heli-Skiing, a beautiful resort
that were more than welcome to accommodate Caesar and I,
even with no rooms available.
Luckily, another day down. I made the run before the huge
snow storm hit, felt pretty bad about being so nasty to
my friend (so just for the record) I made an apology to
Caesar and we've made up nicely. Not only that but we've
also took a big chunk off the biggest climb of the journey,
16 marathons to go.