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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

The Sooke School District is actively looking for more bus drivers after they had to cancel a handful of bus routes in late November. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bus driver shortage cancels routes in Sooke School District

More drivers needed to accomodate expanding bus routes amid pandemic

The IIO’s chief civilian director has cleared Victoria police of any wrongdoing in the Nov. 21 death of a man they had earlier arrested. (Black Press Media file photo)
Investigation clears Victoria police of wrongdoing in arrested man’s death

Police watchdog determined police action or inaction played no role in man’s death

Joe Robertson and Jack Amos ran the length of Vancouver Island, with the help of their van Pippi, raising more than $12,000 for 1Up Victoria Single Parent Resource Centre. (Photo submitted)
Greater Victoria pair finishes running length of Vancouver Island a day early

Joe Robertson and Jack Amos raised more than $12,000 for single parents

Penny Hart is calling on the community to help find her son Sean Hart who was last seen on Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Search spreads for Saanich man missing from mental health facility for nearly a month

Family hopeful as possible sightings reported across Island and in Vancouver

(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)
POLL: Has COVID-19 changed your plans for the holidays?

The lights are going up, the stacks of presents under the tree… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 1

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are inviting audiences into their home for ‘A Celtic Family Christmas’. (Submitted)
Natalie MacMaster coming to you through Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Here’s your chance to enjoy the famed fiddler in an online show with her husband Donnell Leahy.

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Most Read