Dr. Riley Senft is almost finished a run across Canada to promote prostrate cancer awareness

Running for prostate awareness

Doctor following Terry's footsteps

  • Sep. 23, 2011 9:00 a.m.

For many of us, Terry Fox’s name is synonymous with great running feats.

Before he died of cancer in 1981, Fox made himself a legend by taking on the challenge of running across country to raise awareness and money for cancer research. He covered 5,373 kilometres in 143 days on the road.

Now meet Dr. Riley Senft, who is in the midst of attempting that same unimaginable task — using two legs to conquer Canada and cancer.

“Terry Fox was an incredible person. He essentially said, ‘What is the hardest thing for me to do? Run? Okay then I’ll run across Canada,’” Riley says in an email interview when he was resting in Wawa, Ontario, in preparation for his journey along Lake Superior ’s rugged shoreline.

“Terry had one leg, he had cancer, and he didn’t have access to the GPS or social media or any of the other technology that has evolved since he ran that I have access to and yet he managed to capture the heart of our nation and leave an incredible legacy. I don’t have cancer, I have two legs, I have a bigger support vehicle, and I still find this a huge challenge.”

People run marathons all the time. And the 42.195 kilometres to cross the finish line is viewed as a huge test to how far the body and mind can be pushed. Riley is more than halfway through his run across Canada and is clocking roughly 60 kilometres a day, well over one marathon every 24 hours. His body is being beaten and the pavement gives no mercy.

“I still have blisters all over my feet and I have given up on the idea that I’ll ever be blister-free during this run. I’ve learned how to minimize them as much as possible but in the beginning I found myself in hospital in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, because of infected blisters that had me off my feet for two days. My legs have gotten used to the mileage but I had hamstring and calf issues in the beginning that I had to see physiologists for along the way. The recent heat wave was brutal and I was drinking over 10 litres of fluid a day.”

But despite the grind, Riley says it’s all worth it to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer. His charity is called Step into Action and his goal is to raise $1 million during his run.

He’ll be stopping in Hope on Monday, October 3 in the late morning.

“I’m doing this because I’m tired of prostate cancer having such a large impact in my life and I want to raise prostate cancer awareness so that men know when they should be getting checked and so that they don’t fear the digital rectal exam because it’s not a big deal at all.

“My grandfather died of prostate cancer, my father currently has prostate cancer, a number of close family friends have prostate cancer, and odds are either myself or my brother will get prostate cancer. I hate prostate cancer and this is my way of going to war against it.”

Follow Riley’s journey by visiting www.stepintoaction.ca.

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