Ultramarathoner Jerry Hughes is taking aim at the Canadian six-day running record later this month. (Submitted)

Ultramarathoner Jerry Hughes is taking aim at the Canadian six-day running record later this month. (Submitted)

Vancouver Island ultramarathoner takes aim at 130-year-old record for charity

Jerry Hughes will run for six days at the Cowichan Sportsplex this month

How far could you run in an hour? How about a day? How about six days?

The Canadian record for a six-day race has stood for nearly 130 years, but if Jerry Hughes has his way, it will fall this month at the Cowichan Sportsplex during the One Track Mind Ultramarathon.

An experienced ultramarathoner from Victoria, Hughes is aiming to take down the record set by David Bennett in 1891. Bennett ran 540 miles (870 km) in New York City, and Hughes is going to try for 555 miles (just over 893 km) between Nov. 15 and 20.

“It’s not an easy task, I know,” Hughes says with a laugh. “I will be running an absurd amount, for sure. I wouldn’t really call it a run so much as a shuffle.”

This isn’t just about seeing how far he can run. Hughes is also on a mission to raise money for the Help Fill a Dream Foundation, an organization that supports families whose children have been diagnosed with life-threatening conditions. Hughes, now 40, was a beneficiary of the foundation 25 years ago when he and his siblings, went on a dream vacation to Disneyland. He is hoping to raise $144,000 for the foundation with his ultramarathon. That’s $1,000 for every hour of the event, and he will be running each hour for a different kid.

“I’ve done a few other things for Help Fill a Dream,” he says. “But this one is the biggie.”

COVID-19 has taken a toll on Help Fill a Dream, Hughes points out.

“Not only are kids not getting to go on dream vacations because of coronavirus, but they’re also not getting donations,” he explains.

In order for the record to be official, at least two other runners have to take part, so to accomplish that and to raise money, organizers Lisa Large and Joshua Heath have opened the event to other runners. Five runners have committed to all six days, and others have signed on for 24- or 48-hour sessions as solo runners or teams. Entries are limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, but a few spots are still available on the One Track Mind Ultramarathon website.

“There has been so much local support, so many runners doing 24 hours just to be a part of it,” Hughes says.

Hughes is living with Gardner’s syndrome, a rare disease of the colon with a life expectancy of 35 to 45 years. Hughes’s father died of Gardner’s syndrome just before his 34th birthday, and his own kids, now nine, six and 22 months, have a 50 per cent chance of inheriting the condition.

“My goal in life is to show them that anything is possible,” Hughes says.

Hughes had to wear a colostomy bag for a year when he was 13, before he had surgery for a j-pouch, which bypasses the colon. He still needs checkups every year. That hasn’t kept him from being athletic. Hughes’s personal best is 234.5 km (145 miles) in 24 hours, which is the Canadian record for the 35-39 age group. In June of this year, he took part in a virtual race “across Nova Scotia,” in which he ran 792 km over 14 days, while still working at his job as a chef at Cherries Breakfast Bistro in Victoria.

This is the first time he’s tried a full-on six-day ultra, though.

“I’m taking the big plunge,” Hughes admits, noting that he has run just over 30,000 since June 1 to prepare for this month’s race.

Hughes won’t be running for 24 hours all six days, but close. On the first day, he plans to run for 20 hours, and wants to hit the 125-mile mark. If all goes well, he will hit 225 total miles on day two, and 315 miles on day three. He will slow his pace after that, and plans to average 80 miles a day over the last three days to total 555. When Hughes isn’t running, Galaxy Motors in Duncan has loaned an RV for Hughes to sleep in.

“Day one and day two will be serious,” he says. “After that, I’ll be a happier guy.”

For more information about the One Track Mind ultramarathon, visit raceroster.com/events/2020/35719/one-track-mind. For more about Help Fill a Dream, visit helpfilladream.com/

fundraiserrunning

Just Posted

These Douglas fir logs were recently found poached on Stoney Hill in North Cowichan’s forest reserve. (Larry Pynn/sixmountains.ca)
OPINION: Cowichan Valley’s Six Mountains Forest: War or Peace—The Choice is Ours

Icel Dobel writes in favour of protecting Cowichan Valley forests

The former St. Joseph’s School converted to the St. Joseph’s Art Studios in 2019. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Former Chemainus St. Joseph’s School site sold to addictions recovery group

Diocese stresses the importance of a community outreach option in its decision

The bow-legged bear was seen roaming 2nd Avenue on Friday, May 7 and again in Brown Drive Park on May 13. (Submitted photo)
Bow-legged Ladysmith bear euthanized after vet examination

CO Stuart Bates said the bear had obvious health issues

The Arts Council of Ladysmith and District is working with several Vancouver Island art councils on the Digitial Innovation Group to improve digital skills for Island artists. (Submitted photo)
Digital Innovation Group supports digital literacy for Island artists

The goal is to leverage digital skills to promote Vancouver Island as an ‘arts powerhouse’

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

(PQB News file photo)
RCMP on the hunt for serial Rathtrevor Beach flasher

Two separate incidents noted at provincial park on April 30 and May 14

(Kamloops This Week)
Puppy’s home in question as BC Supreme Court considers canine clash

Justice Joel Groves granted an injunction prohibiting the sale or transfer of the dog

Protesters seen here rallying against the injunction order on April 1. (Black Press Media file photo)
RCMP enforce injunction at Fairy Creek logging blockade near Port Renfrew

Protesters can remain but police will ensure open access for loggers

Kayak the humpback whale was found dead on a Haida Gwaii beach on Saturday, May 15, 2021. (Marine Education and Research Society)
Kayak the humpback whale found dead on Haida Gwaii beach

Whale was estimated to be only 18 years old

Then-finance minister Kevin Falcon presents his last B.C. budget, Feb. 21, 2012. The province was emerging from the 2009-10 recession and repaying federal incentive to cancel the harmonized sales tax. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Political veteran Kevin Falcon set for second run at B.C. Liberal leadership

Vancouver MLA Michael Lee announces on the same day

Most Read