Shades on, plugged into his iPod, Kevin Nunn steps forward with a grimace toward the distant summit of Mount Douglas.
Passing curious dog-walkers and hikers, and harnessed to a 70-pound metal sled, Nunn is a freight-train of spiked bleach-blonde hair, arm tattoos and grit powering up one of the steepest paved hills in the city.
He stops to catch his breath a few times, but arrives at the 213 metre elevation parking lot in less than 20 minutes, red faced but smiling. “I enjoy it, but the calves really burn after doing that,” he says in an understatement.
The 49-year-old from Yorkshire completes this gruelling feat of strength three times per week, usually three round trips per session. This, he hopes, will steel his body for the real challenge – pulling a 2,530-pound BMW Mini around the University of Victoria’s Ring Road 12 times, equaling 21 kilometres.
For Nunn, it’s all about ramping up the challenge, amping up the craziness, all to raise as much money as possible for Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock and his three Saanich police colleagues, tour riders Niki Hodgkinson, Jett Junio and Jana Sawyer.
Two years ago Nunn raised $2,500 by dying his hair bleach blonde and sporting a Billy Idol look. Last year he ran 60 kilometres, over the Malahat from Cowichan to the Saanich police station in seven hours and 19 minutes, with his Billy Idol hair and Union Jack shorts and shoes. He raised nearly $14,000 for the tour.
“Every year I’m inspired by the community of Victoria and the Island. It’s fantastic. I’m pulling a car for a day, but it’s a team effort,” Nunn says. “Support from the local community makes it a team effort.
“I’m hoping the bigger the event, the more charitable people will be. I hope the bigger the challenge, the more donations. My goal is $25,000.”
A keen soccer player and a British army soldier for 22 years, Nunn is accustomed to hard physical exertion and pushing through pain. Hiking 50 or 100 kilometres with a 100 pound pack was a regular day in the army.
But, Nunn admits dragging a heavy, clanging metal sled up mountains and pulling cars long distances is a new ball game. “It’s quite different. There’s a lot of drag with a flat plate. This hill is so steep it really tests the muscle endurance and stamina,” Nunn says.
“It’s does hurt, but you have to go through the pain barrier. If you stop when it hurts, you’ll never improve. As a trainer, I know my body and I know not to overdo it.”
Nunn moved to Victoria from the U.K. in 2004 and worked as head trainer at Phoenix gym before landing his job in 2008 as the civilian equipment officer for the Saanich police. His father was diagnosed the next year with kidney cancer, and died while Nunn was on a flight home.
“My dad passed away in 2009. It helped set me on my path to help kids with cancer,” he says. “I don’t think any kid should have to go through the hardship, or a family through the hardship.
“What I’m going through is nothing compared to what the kids go through. They lose their hair, go through chemo. They only know they hurt.”
UVic has given Nunn permission to use the flat but occasionally undulating Ring Road for his Sept. 9 car pull. Victoria BMW and Mini is donating a new Mini, which will be geared in neutral and will have someone behind the wheel to keep Nunn safe.
Ring Road won’t be closed to traffic for the expected seven or eight hours Nunn will be harnessed to the car. Already he’s contemplating a harder, longer event for next year.
“I hope to top this next year. I’m thinking some kind of Billy Idol Ironman distance event,” he says laughing. “It will get bigger and better as long as I’m fit and healthy.”
To donate see kevin4cancer.ca. Nunn is willing to wear t-shirts with business logos during the car pulling event for corporate sponsorship.
Contact Nunn at 250-475-4304 or email email@example.com.