When most people in Victoria are sound asleep early Sunday morning, Mike List will be on the University of Victoria stadium track, grinding out lap after lap in a wheelchair.
The 52-year-old truck driver and father of three daughters is taking the Easter Seals 24 Hour Relay to heart. He’ll take breaks here and there, but List plans to wheel himself around the Centennial Stadium track from 10 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday, a 24-hour effort.
List doesn’t use a wheelchair, but he’s taking on the marathon roll to better empathize with his daughter Amanda, 20, who has spina bifida and is confined to a wheelchair.
“She has gone through surgery more than 30 times. It hits me hard,” List said. “I decided I felt it’s my responsibility to wheel a mile in her shoes, to get a feeling of what she goes through mentally and physically every day.”
List conceived of the idea nine years ago, after wheeling the TC10K in honour of his daughter, but that wasn’t challenging enough. The stars aligned this year for the busy dad to start training again.
Most days he and his chair could be found on the running track at Oak Bay High, pushing through what he described as incredibly boring hours of training.
“I always wanted to do 24 hours, but I procrastinated. Now nine years later because we started going to the gym, it’s the perfect time to do it,” he said. “All three of my girls inspire me. With Amanda and all she has been through inspires us all. She inspired me to push a little further. The 10K was a taste. This will push me to the limit.”
The 24 Hour Relay raises money for Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan, a camp for kids with disabilities, and typically, most teams operate in a relay, looping the running track and Ring Road.
Team Wheels for Seals will have List’s friends and family as support, but the Esquimalt man plans to be on the track for 24 hours. They’ll have extra wheelchairs for people to participate, and he’s encouraging anyone – especially those with special needs – to roll with him for a lap or two. Amanda will join him for his first and last laps.
“Mentally, a lot of inspiring things will keep me going. A close a friend recently passed away, I’ve got a team shirt for Baby Molly. My three daughters will be (motivating) me until 10 a.m. Sunday morning.”
After training for three months, List said he’s physically fit – “this (wheelchair) has become part of me,” he said while popping wheelies at the Oak Bay track – but the challenge at UVic will be a mental game.
“I’m looking forward to the adrenaline, the atmosphere and the people, and won’t think of the pain – I’m hoping. The first few laps I think I’ll feel it, then I’ll go numb.
“It’s one, two, three, four in the morning I’m concerned about. I’ve got a portable DVD player I’ll velcro to my lap. I’ve got a few ideas to keep me going.”
This 19th annual 24 Hour Relay has 29 registered teams taking on the challenge, which is down compared to last year, said Craig Heinz, with the B.C. Lions Society for Children with Disabilities, which sponsors Camp Shawnigan.
“This year may have less teams, but most have been part of the event for two three or four years,” Heinz said. “We’ve seen a drop in teams, but the fundraising is holding steady for the past few years.”
Last year the 24 Hour Relay in Victoria raised $464,400.
The 24 Hour Relay for the Kids starts 10 a.m. on Saturday at UVic’s Centennial Stadium. The public is invited to participate and take in the fun until 8 p.m.