Redwood Meadows Aboriginal Day

Posted by martin parnell |

Sue and I love going to community events in Cochrane and area. Some of the highlights are Footstock, Canada Day festivities at Mitford Park, the Labour Day parade and the Outhouse races in late September. Slightly further afield, is the Redwood Meadows Aboriginal Day, which took place, this year on June 21st.

Although activities didn’t start until 11.00am, we arrived 9.30am, as I wanted to get in my daily walk, beforehand. Redwood Meadows is a beautiful community. We started from Redwood House, headed north east along Many Horses Drive until we crossed on to Redwood Berm Trail. This pathway follows the Elbow River back into the community and ends at the Redwood Meadows Golf and Country Club. By the time we had arrived back to the start we had covered 6.5 kms and volunteers were setting up for all the activities that were due to take place, both indoors and out.

Seminars were schedule for the afternoon in native culture, medicinal knowledge and a dream catcher workshop for children. After enjoying a cup of coffee, we made our way out to the field. The Mayor of Redwood Meadows, Liz Erasmus said a few words, and members of the Tsuu T’ina nation opened Aboriginal Day with a traditional dance. They were accompanied by a group of drummers who also performed a song in honour of Fathers, it being Father’s day. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the performances and seeing the beautiful traditional dress.

Some people then headed into Redwood house but Sue and I headed into the vendors tent. There we met Kalum Teke Dan, an artist whose work is very powerful. He lives in Calgary, but originates from the Blood Tribe in Southern Alberta. He was first inspired to create art from his grandparents, who were known internationally for their bead work and traditional regalia. Mostly self-taught, and dealing in both oil, acrylic and watercolour, Kalum has become known for his strong portraiture and his stunning wildlife depictions.

He told us that he knew that this is what he had always wanted to do. As a kid he would knock on doors trying to sell his pictures. Many times he had no for an answer but he never gave up. In the fall he’s heading over to Prague for an exhibition and a book signing. You may have the opportunity to see Kalum’s work at one of the Pow Wows taking place this summer.

On the way home Sue and I chatted about how lucky we were to be able to spend a day experiencing another culture. Sometimes you have to travel thousands of miles to do that, but for us it was only 30 kms down the road, at Redwood Meadows Aboriginal Day.

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The Long Walk to Recovery

Posted by martin parnell |

In my last blog, which appreared in early February, I wrote about a holiday Sue and I had taken to Cuba. A lot has happened since then. In late February, I made a trip to Winnipeg, to give a presentation. Whilst there, I was taken ill and ended up in the Emergency Room at Grace Hospital. A scan revealed that I had an extensive blood clot, in my brain and I was diagnosed with “Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis”. I was transferred to the Health Sciences Center and what started out as an overnight trip turned into a two week stay.

 Sue flew out and sat at my bedside. At first I was heavily sedated and on large doses of pain relief. Meanwhile, the doctors set about finding the right levels of medication to thin my blood, get my high blood pressure under control and reduce the amount of spinal fluid that had accumulated in my brain.

My vision had been severely affected, due to pressure on my optic nerve and I had great difficulty concentrating. But, eventually, it was decided the best place for me would be back in Alberta, as Rockyview Hospital is deemed to be a center of excellence for dealing with my type of condition, which is very rare, only 5 in a million.

Back in Cochrane, I was having daily blood work and visits to the doctor, to track the effectiveness of my medications, ten a day, in all.

On March 27th I spent an hour with Dr Subramanium, a neuro-ophthalmologist at Rockyview. His expertise is in the effects of strokes and other brain disorders.

He explained that the clot had started to grow in late January and, if it had gone untreated for another week, I would have been in a coma, or worse. The clot had put pressure on the optical nerve causing double vision. I asked the specialist a number of questions about what physical activities I could or could not do. He explained that the long term prognosis is good but, at the moment, I am unable to run, swim, bike or drive. He said the one thing I could do was walk.

I started with a 3 km walk following a route in the West End of Cochrane up to the Heartland development, and around West Pointe. I then got up to 5km with an out and back to the railway bridge. By the end of March I was up to 8km per day, adding a section along the Bow River. This distance was taking me around 1 hour 40 minutes and I found that with a pace of 100 steps per minute I was covering 10,000 steps.

This is a good daily target and with all the medical restrictions I have it makes me feel better physically, mentally and spiritually. It’s the one thing that I have control over.

Walking together, Sue and I have covered a large section of the pathway system in Cochrane. Out to the East End and the zig-zag, “San Francisco” street: across the old trestle bridge and up into Riviera and River Song or out to the Ranche House and up to Fosters. It’s great to see the town crews installing the new bridges over the creeks and paving old sections of the red rock pathway to allow year round use.

After my diagnosis I’m looking at things a little different now. The seriousness of it was brought home to us when on April 13th. Sue’s Dad, collapsed and died from a massive stroke. I have to watch certain things in my diet, take frequent naps and monitor my blood pressure. My eyesight is still affected and I still have double vision, but I am able to read for a short while if I wear a patch.

 I’m loving the walking and, as Sue says, “It’s just slow running”.

If you see me on the pathways, give me a wave and I’ll be sure to wave back, ‘though I may be seeing two of you!

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Posted by martin.parnell |

Cuba may well be about to change. Barrack Obama has said that he wants to normalize relations between The USA and Cuba and this will probably be good for its people. It will be interesting to see in what way it will change one of the most fascinating countries in the world.

Sue had mentioned taking a trip to Cuba, as our reward for my finishing the 5 year “Quests for Kids”. We wanted to visit Havana, so I found a small resort, on the beach, one hour from the capital. Over the next eight days, we took a day trip to Havana, visited some underground caves, learned to Salsa and visited Hersey Town, a model community built by Milton Hersey, the chocolate maker.

One of the most interesting things, however, was chatting to some of the locals. Merina was the representative for Sunwing at our resort and every day we would find her in the lobby, helping tourists organise their day trips. She told us she was married with two children and her husband worked at a resort in Varadero. They have no car so she has to hitch-hike to work. This is quite common because so few people have their own vehicles that the Government has mandated that drivers who have space have to pick up hitch-hikers.

Estoban was the guide who took us to the Ballamar caves and, as we drove along, he told us his life story. He went to university to study Agricultural Engineering. After graduating he worked as a Project Manager, Communist Party organiser, Customs Officer and is now a tour guide. He said that the Government provides many free things such as milk, for children under the age of 7, but other things, like cooking oil and rice are rationed. He told us that there is no real drug problem in Cuba, but a thriving big black-market in cigars. He has four children and is hopeful that, with the lifting of the embargo, things will improve for them, over the next few years.

Pedro works for the resort and does everything from dance instructor to trail-hike guide. He is 32 years old, trained as a teacher and completed his compulsory time in the army. The hotel pays 400 pesos per month for the work he does, of that he gets 40 pesos and the Government takes the rest. He wishes he had access to the Internet, which is currently unavailable to Cubans, but is pleased that at least now he can have a cell phone. He can’t afford to travel but even if he could there are only certain countries that would allow him to enter. His final comment was that “In Cuba you cannot dream. We live in a Paradise Prison”.

Hopefully things are about change for the better for Merina, Estoban, Pedro and all Cubans.

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The Final Marathon

Posted by martin.parnell |

Well this is it, Wednesday December 31st 2014, the final day of the 5 year “Quests for Kids” initiative. It all started on January 1st 2010 on a bitterly cold morning on the 1A highway just outside of Cochrane, Alberta. It was -31C and a group of us were huddled on the side of the road waiting for the marathon to begin. This was the start of Marathon Quest 250, to run 250 marathons in one year, raise $250,000 for Right To Play and I couldn’t wait to get going. Media from Cochrane and Calgary were in attendance and at exactly 9.00am Mayor Truper McBride blew the whistle and we were off. Five and a half hours later the 42.2 kms were completed and the journey had begun.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since that day and I had mixed emotions heading down to the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre on the morning of the 31st. The set up for the 5th and Final MQ250 Run / Walk was pretty simple; mark the 2 km loop and set up the table for registration and donations. I was there at 8.00am and already several marathoners had arrived. Long-time supporters Angie, Hero and Lourdes signed up and by the time 9.00am came around there were 25 runners ready for the off. I did the count down from ten, blew my trusty whistle and away we went.

During the day runners and walkers came out to do their thing. Blanche Ellis, 82, did her first 2km run. Her son Roy gave her a hand because of the footing but she was thrilled as she crossed the line. Mums and dads brought out their kids and every child received a medal sponsored by the Calgary Marathon. We were lucky with the weather. In previously years we had run in the -20C and -30C but today it was -6C with a light wind.

My run was going well until the 32km mark. I hadn’t done a very good job of hydration or nutrition and I was feeling a bit light headed. I was running with my friend Ally and she was feeling the same. As we were moaning and groaning we met Gulled along the path. Gulled is from Somalia and was doing his first half marathon. He told us that as a child he had half a day a week free from work but even during that time he was not allowed to play. He totally believes in what Right To Play is doing and that it is a crime that children do not have the right to play in many areas of the world.

After speaking with Gulled, Ally and I were reenergised and pushed our way through the final kms. The last loop is called the “Cookie” loop and everyone one grabbed their cookie and ran. Sue joined me for the final 100m and she has been with me from the start line on January 1st 2010.

As one chapter ends so another one begins. I’m not exactly sure what it’s going to be but stay tuned.

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Posted by martin.parnell |

Anniversaries are important. Whether it’s a birthday, wedding, or the day you got your first bike. Today, December 31st is significant to me, for a number of reasons. This was the day, in 2003, when I met Sue at New Year’s Eve party. I was in England visiting family and Sue was a friend of my sister Jan. We had a long distance relationship for a couple of years visiting each other in England, Canada and Denmark. Then in 2005 Sue came over to Canada and has been by my side ever since.

I have also written 100 articles for the Cochrane Eagle. In the first one, back in March 2011, I talked about how to run an Ultramarathon. Over the years, my articles have covered such topics as applying for Mantraker, visiting Benin in West Africa, taking a session of Aquasize, participating in the Kimmett Cup, the importance of good grammar, collecting a ton of pennies for Right To Play, the Kraft Celebration Tour, learning to play sledge hockey, helping out at High River and Morley after the flood, the exploits of the Detroit Mower Gang, running with Jamie McDonald and looking after the needs of 4 month old grand baby Matthew Conner.

Today is the 5th Anniversary of the last of the 250 marathons I ran in 2010. As you read this blog a group of us will be running / walking from Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre along the Bow River on 2 km loops, through the off-leash, down to the old trestle bridge and back. This event marks the end of “Quests for Kids”, my 5 year initiative to complete 10 Quests, raise $1m for Right To Play, and helping 20,000 children. So far we’ve raised over $660,000 and there’s still time to donate at .

Over the years the Cochrane community has played a huge role in this endeavour. Every school in the town has held fund raisers, including hockey games, Dodgeball tournaments and bake sales. Many residents hold Guinness World Records having participated in the longest game of Soccer or the biggest game of Hockey. I’m sure Cochrane has the most Guinness World Record holders per capita in all of Canada.

Wishing everyone a wonderful and fulfilling 2015 and a very big THANK YOU Cochrane, I couldn’t have done it without you. 

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10,000 Tennis Balls

Posted by martin.parnell |

It’s 3.00am on Thursday, December 5th and I’m playing tennis at a beautiful sports facility in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Across the court is Sherri. She hasn’t played tennis since the age of 6 but she has a dream. In March of next year she wants to go to Club Med and play tennis. We rally back and forth when suddenly there’s a “Thud” and the lights go out. All that Sherri and I can see is a fluorescent yellow orb floating in the air and the rally goes on.

I love tennis. I was 11 when Mum and Dad took over an old sprawling property from my Grand Mother. On the grounds was a tennis court, however, tennis hadn’t been played on it for a number of years. It was over grown and looked like a cow patch. Over a Spring and Summer Dad cut down the brambles, rolled the grass and built a wood fence with netting all around it.

My job was to line the court. I found the dimensions in an old Encyclopedia Britannica and using a huge ball of string staked it out. Next, I painted the string with creosol, killing the grass. Finally, I mixed up a bucket of lime and water carefully brushing it along the burned strip and, voila, a tennis court was born. Many hours of tennis was played with my parents, siblings and friends. But as with all good things, life gets in the way and I hadn’t played for years.

Then two months ago I met Rufus Nel. Rufus is a triathlete, ultra-runner and the Head Professional at the Abony Family Tennis Centre in Fredericton, New Brunswick. After an hour of chatting an idea was born, 24 hours of Tennis in support of Right To Play. So, on December 4th at 6.00pm I’m ready to step on to the court. My friend, Tom Healy, has lined up an amazing schedule. For the first 45 minutes I play New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant. It’s a hard fought affair and my elbow is sore. Not a good thing with 23 hours to go.

As Wednesday evening turns into night players arrive to take their turns. I have all my supplies at hand; sandwiches, brownies, bananas and coffee. Six hours in and fatigue is taking its toll. My elbow is tender and legs are starting to feel heavy. By the time Sherri arrives I needed another coffee. Sherri is a natural and I’m telling her this when the lights go out. For 10 minutes we continue to rally in the dark, the ghostly ball shaped form travelling backwards and forwards over the net. Slowly the lights come on and after an hour Sherri finishes her practice. As she leaves she says that she’s determined to play tennis at Club Med. Brilliant.

Night turns to day and groups of school children start to pour in from Park Street, George Street, Fredericton High, Chief Harold Sappier, Devon Middle and Montgomery. What a morning and afternoon, balls are flying everywhere and the kids are having a blast. The hours and minutes tick by and finally it’s 5.55pm, only 5 minutes to go. Tom and Rufus join me for the final game and as the clock strikes 6.00pm a huge cheer goes up, 24 hours of Tennis is in the bag.

The tennis marathon was a tremendous success. Over $4,000 had been raised for Right To Play, 350 children had played tennis and I had got to relive some wonderful memories of playing tennis as a kid with Mum and Dad.

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Baby Quest

Posted by martin.parnell |

Life is full of firsts. I ran my first marathon at the age of 48, completed my first Ironman Triathlon at 50, set my first Guinness World Record at 56 and changed my first diaper at 58.

This week I’ve had daughter Kristina and 4 month old Grand Baby Matthew Connor (GBMC) visiting from Sudbury, Ontario. You may ask, “Didn’t you change Kristina’s diapers when she was a baby?” and the answer is no. Kyle and Kris were adopted at the ages of 4 and 2 respectively and Kris was already potty trained by the time she came to live with us. I’m sure she’s going to be thrilled to learn that this snippet in information has hit the wire.

The second evening they were with us Sue and Kris headed out and left me with GBMC. Fortunately Kris left me a “Baby 101 Crib sheet” and this is what it said:


  • Unzip sleeper / unsnap undershirt.
  • Remove diaper and place in wet bag.
  • Wipe bum if required.
  • Put on clean diaper and snap closed.
  • Close undershirt / zip up sleeper.


  • Take bottle out of fridge and remove cap.
  • Microwave for 45 seconds and add Formula.
  • Put cap back on and shake until mixed.
  • Feed baby.
  • Burp baby as needed (sorry if he pukes!).

Cereal (night only)

  • Add warm water to cereal until it is the consistency of yogurt.
  • Put baby in blue chair.
  • Feed small spoonful’s, wait until one is done before giving another.
  • Some may dribble down his chin, scrape up and feed it to him.
  • Wipe face when done.


  • Change into disposable diaper.
  • Burrito baby.
  • Feed bottle.
  • Place in playpen.

I’ve had this list on the fridge and it’s worked a treat. I learned a couple of other tricks including letting GBMC chew my knuckles and singing to him. We also played a game called “Baby Triathlon” where I started off by working his legs in a breast stroke movement then switched to a cycling motion and finally to a running action. He loved that.

Both GBMC and I use Apps. His is called “Sprout” and mine is “Dailymile”. On Dailymile I keep track on how far I’ve run, how long it took me and how many calories I’ve burnt. On Sprout, GBMC keeps track of diaper changes, feedings times and naps. A combination of the two, “DailySprout”, would have a lot of potential!

Daughter Kris and GBMC are off in a couple of days and Sue and I are really going to miss them. However, I am going to leave the “Baby 101 Crib sheet” in a safe place. We have two sons and who knows what the future will bring.

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Posted by martin.parnell |

It’s great to get help when you’re trying to achieve a goal. In Canada Quest for Kids my food sponsor was McDonalds. My running buddies had suggested that I would come back as “Fat Boy” but I had a different plan. I down loaded all the nutritional information from their menu options and figured out what would work for me. Then I set myself a goal: To drive across Canada from BC to NFL, eat McDonalds and not gain a pound. I weighed myself on September 17th and again on October 14th, 10,000 kms and 31 McDonalds meals later the results are in: I weighed in at 174.6 lbs and weighed off at 171.6 lbs, a loss of 3 lbs.

But as they say the devil is in the details, so let’s start. In total I ate 31 meals with 79 food / drink items, at 25 different locations in 8 Provinces in 27 days. These items were: 1 McLobster (no bun), 1 Filet of Fish, 2 Water, 3 Teas, 3 Egg McMuffins, 4 Apples, 4 Cookies, 4 Angus Burgers (no buns), 5 McWraps, 7 Salads (large and side), 9 Oatmeal, 17 Coffees (Americano / Mocha), 19 Milk.

Some other key points include: Different weigh scales were used for the weigh in and weigh off, other meals were taken at other food establishments and home cooking, I ran 85 kms and participated in 10 Guinness World Records.

Overall McDonalds provided good food options and excellent service. A couple of suggestions include; get rid of the Filet of Fish, it looks like and tastes like a breaded beer mat, why not introduce a McSalmon? Also, a soup would be good, say a McMushroom. Looking to the future maybe a McPub with beer from their McMicrobrewery. All I can say to that is McCheers.

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The Journey so far

Posted by martin.parnell |

Canada Quest for Kids is complete but the journey is far from over. Fund raising for my “Quests for Kids” initiative will continue until December 31st. The goal is to raise $1m by the end of 2014 and so far we are at $652,000. Why not do your own “Quest” and fund raise for Right To Play? To make a donation please go to .

Here is “Canada Quest for Kids” by the numbers:

  • 1 Road trip across Canada.
  • 7 nights camping
  • 9 Guinness World Records set (pending verification)
  • 10 Universities visited
  • 25 days from BC to Newfoundland
  • 2,133 participants in the Guinness World Records
  • 10,085 kms driven across the country
  • 46,431 dollars raised so far for Right To Play

and the incredible effort put forward by the organisers and participants to live Right To Play’s motto: Look after yourself, look after one another.

Waking up this morning I knew there was a price to pay for the four 20 minute shifts I had put in at the Guinness World Record attempt for the largest game of hockey. Everything ached and it was a struggle just getting down the stairs at our B & B for breakfast. Sue and I were heading out of St. John’s but there was something we wanted to do first.

The Terry Fox statue is located at the end of Water Street. The small garden is known as the Terry Fox Mile Zero Memorial Site and is where Terry dipped his toe into the Atlantic Ocean on April 20th 1980 at the start of his “Marathon of Hope”. The statue is slightly larger than life size and behind him his words ring true today as they ever did “I just wish people would realise that anything’s possible if you try; dreams are possible if you try.”

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Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

Posted by martin.parnell |

Sometimes you just have to give it a go. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. As Wayne Gretzky said “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. On Canada Quest for Kids we took 10 shots and scored 9 times.

Sue and I had breakfast at the Gower House then I headed off to the Capital Hyundai Arena to meet up with Jared. He was there with his Dad Mike, Myfanwy co-organizer of the event and a group of Right To Play volunteers. At 9.00am the first players started to come in and the record breaking attempt got under way.

I was on the first line with Peter Soucy AKA Snook. Peter is a Newfoundland comedian, actor and radio host. We played 10 minutes then the next group came on the ice. This was a team from a junior hockey association in St. Johns and it was great to see the kids enjoying themselves. During the morning, media from CBC TV, CBC Radio, NTV, St. Johns Telegraph-Journal newspaper, and VOCM BackTalk came in. They interviewed myself, Jared, Myfanwy, the referees and a number of the junior players.

At midday we were running low on players and everyone was on twitter and face book trying to get participants out. We were all putting in long shifts to keep the game going in the hope that we would get a surge by early afternoon. After six hours of hockey we were down to three on three plus the goalies. The last player to join us was 8 year old Jack. His Mum said that he really wanted to be part of the game and was thrilled to get on the ice. We played for 30 minutes more and Jack scored 10 goals. At 4.30pm Jared called the game and the attempt was over.

Chatting to Jared and Myfanwy afterwards they were disappointed but are keen to build on this. They have created a big awareness of Right To Play in St. Johns and want to use it as spring board for the future. As I told them, in life you have to “Give it a go” and they certainly did that.

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The 10,000 kms Hockey Game

Posted by martin.parnell |

Today I arrived at my final destination on Canada Quest for Kids: St. Johns, Newfoundland. This is it, Guinness World Record #10, the largest exhibition game of ice hockey on The Rock. I’ve driven over 10,000kms for this game with my hockey gear in the back of the truck. Tomorrow, at 9.30am, the puck drops.

This morning I headed out on a pre-breakfast run from the Brookdale Country Inn at Bishop’s Falls and found a snowmobile trail that headed into the bush. The fall colours are spectacular and I took my camera along to try and capture some of the beauty. Back at the Inn I had breakfast and chatted to the owner Phil. He works in Alberta setting up camps but his passion is his rescue horses. Over the years he’s save a number of these animals from the slaughter house and given them a home.

I explained to Phil what I was doing and that we needed players for the hockey game. He said that maybe Danny Williams, the Newfoundland Premier and Roger Grimes, the previous Premier could help as they both played hockey. I said I would try to get hold of them to see if they could round up some more players. My GPS told me that my drive to St.Johns would be 4 hours and I headed off in the mist and rain.

The scenery is stunning and harsh. Barren rocks, stunted trees and water everywhere. I made it to the city by 5.00pm and just as I was settling into my room at the B & B Jared from the Right To Play club at Memorial University called me. Jared is the organiser of the hockey game and is working hard to get enough players. He wanted to come over, pick me up and head out to Capital Hyundai Arena, the location of tomorrow’s game. Sounds good. At the arena we talked to Mums and Dads about having their kids play in the GWR game and they were keen.

Afterwards, Jared took me to an Irish pub on George Street for clam chowder, a pint of Yellow Belly Amber and some traditional Newfoundland music. It’s now 8.00pm and I have to head off to the airport to pick up Sue. She’s had a long flight from Calgary and will be hungry and thirsty. I know just the place to take her.

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Posted by martin.parnell |

The ferry trip from North Sydney to Port Aux Basque was uneventful. The crossing was 7 hours and I managed to get a few hours’ sleep in the reclining chair. The highlight was that I had my first taste of “Iceberg” beer. The tag line is “Made with pure 25,000 year old iceberg water”. Now that’s old water.

My first port of call was Corner Brook two hours up the coast. I had hit the fall colours at their most magnificent with the yellows, golds and greens forming a huge tapestry across the rolling hills. I had time to spare so I headed into the Gros Morne National Park. I had been recommended to go there by Alex from Mount Allison and she wasn’t wrong. The road plunged up and down the rugged terrain and the ocean cut into the craggy coast line give spectacular views.

After having lunch in Rocky Harbour I was heading back to the #1 highway and decided to give Jared from Memorial University a call. I asked him how it was going and he said not good. He was really struggling to get enough players out for the Guinness World Record hockey event on Monday. This afternoon he was going to hit a bunch of arenas and put up posters. I told him that I would do a big push on social media tonight and see if we could turn the tide. This is always the time when panic starts to set in but you just have to hold to the course and all hands to the pump.

I arrived at Bishop’s Falls at 5.00pm and called Sue. She was packing to get ready for her flight to St. John’s. She leaves Calgary early tomorrow morning and gets into the city at 9.00pm. I haven’t seen her since September 21st and it will be great to travel back across this mighty Country together.


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Posted by martin.parnell |

In early September when I told my running buddies that McDonalds was my food sponsor for Canada Quest for Kids they laughed. Today, I had my first McLobster. Who’s laughing now!!!! The McDiet is going well and I’ve started tabulating all the meals I’ve had at the McDonalds restaurant’s across Canada. Monday is the big day when I do my weigh-off and see if I’ve been successful in my personal challenge of not gaining a pound.

This morning I headed back to the Waterfowl Park in Sackville for a run and taking pictures. It’s an incredible place with wooden boardwalks winding their way through the bull rushes and across the marsh lands. The day was bright and cool and I got some beautiful shots of the sun reflecting off the water. Back at the house I said goodbye to Alex. She had been at the University in the morning and it was abuzz with talk of the Ultimate Frisbee Guinness World Record.

Today’s drive took me from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia. The scenery went from rolling country side to the ocean of the Atlantic Province. When I saw a sign for the golden arches with the slogan “Port Hawkesbury: McLobster” I knew I was in a special place. I arrived at North Sydney, the Ferry Port for Newfoundland at 6.30pm and loading wasn’t until 9.30pm. No McD’s here so it’s a Sweet Potato soup at Timmy’s.

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Spirit of the Game

Posted by martin.parnell |

Today was Guinness World Record attempt #9 on the Canada Quest for Kids road trip from Squamish, BC to St. John’s, NFL. The game was Ultimate Frisbee, another sport I had never played. I thought it would be a good idea to find out more about it so I went to the source of all knowledge, Wikipedia. It told me that “Ultimate is a limited-contact field team sport played with a flying disc (Frisbee). Points are scored by passing the disc to a teammate in the opposing end zone. Other basic rules are that players must not take steps while holding the disc (maintain a pivot), and interceptions and incomplete passes are turnovers."

What really intrigued me about the game was what was said next “From its beginnings in the American counter-culture of the late 60’s, ultimate has resisted empowering any referee with rule enforcement, instead relying on the sportsmanship of players and invoking the "Spirit of the Game" to maintain fair play. Players call their own fouls and dispute a foul only when they genuinely believe it did not occur. Playing without referees is the norm for league play, but has been supplanted in club competition by the use of "observers"/"advisers" to help in disputes, and the nascent professional leagues even employ empowered referees.” This would be interesting.

At 4.30pm I headed down to the soccer field on the Mount Allison Campus and met up with Alex and the rest of the Right To Play volunteers. They needed 83 players to set a new record and at 5.00pm when registration started there were six people already in line waiting to sign up. Very impressive. They had planned to start the event at 6.00pm and at that point had hit 74. Ten minutes later they got the 83 and the game started. Each side had 7 players and they would come off after 10 minutes or when a point was scored, which ever happened first.

I was on the third shift and had a blast running around in the mud trying to catch this flying plate. At the end of a particular play I made a long run up field and caught the saucer in the end zone. My first ever point in Ultimate Frisbee. We all trotted off and by 8.00pm all 121 participants had played and set a new record.

Tomorrow, I’m heading East to North Sydney, Nova Scotia and a ferry across to The Rock, Newfoundland.

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House of the Gods

Posted by martin.parnell |

I was woken up by the rain hammering against the window pane and all I could think was thank heavens it wasn’t like this last night. We wouldn’t have had a snowman’s chance in hell of setting the Capture the Flag record if we had had to contend with this kind of weather. But it wasn’t and we did.

So far on the road trip across Canada the “Questmobile” had performed majestically. Extremely comfortable, smooth ride, lots of storage space, 5 cup holders just around the drives seat and of course the “Tepui Tent”. Tepui (pronounced /teh-poo-ee/) is a table-top mountain or mesa found in the Guiana Highlands of South America. The word tepui means "house of the gods" in the native tongue of the Pemo. Tepuis are known for their mystic, allure, and spectacular scenery. My Tepui Tent certainly is a “Home-away-from-Home” and has been a blast to use along the way.

It was a big day for the “Questmobile” as it was time for its 8,000 km service. Looking at the map I figured I’m half way completed the road trip. I took the truck to Clark Toyota in Fredericton and they said it would be an hour. With a bit of time to kill I wandered across to the Abony Family Tennis Centre to meet Rufus. My friend Tom had told me about the facility and that I should meet the person who ran it. Rufus was in his office and we started to chat. Rufus is from South Africa and has participated in the Comrades Ultra and Ironman events.

I told him about my story and also my love of tennis. In fact I had hoped that one of my Quests would be “Tennis Quest” but things didn’t come together. It’s a beautiful facility and their motto is “Tennis for all, Tennis for life”. After a good chat I said goodbye and headed back to pick up the “Questmobile”.

I said goodbye to Tom and Ulrica, and continued on my way from Fredericton to Sackville, travelling 220km, the route was awash with the fall colours. I had a meeting with the Mount Allison Right To Play club members and I didn’t want to be late. Arriving in town, I was met by Alex, one of the main organizers of the Ultimate Frisbee Guinness World Record attempt. By 8.00pm there were 12 people in the class and we started chatting about tomorrow’s event. They are all very nervous about having enough people. All I could say was get a good night sleep. Tomorrow is another day.

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The Final Three

Posted by martin.parnell |

I had an excellent night’s sleep after hearing the result of the Love Clap Guinness World Record at McGill. However, there’s no rest for the wicked and today was GWR #8, Capture the Flag at the BMO Centre on the University of New Brunswick campus.

I’m staying with my friends Tom and Ulrica just on the outskirts of Fredericton. Tom was the fellow, back in 2009, who had introduced me to Right To Play. During that year we had set up “Kids-U-Can” and raised $10,000 for the organization. Later that year I had decided to attempt to run 250 marathons in one year and the rest as they say is history.

Today, I only wanted to run 10km so I headed out the door and tried to find the trail Tom had told me about. I had no luck and ended up running the back roads. Fall is here and I my route took me along a bed of orange, yellow and red leaves. After an excellent eggs and bacon breakfast it was off to CHSR 97.7 FM for an interview Mark to explain the upcoming activities.

The registration for the GWR was scheduled for 5.45pm and the game to begin at 6.30pm. Tom and I got there at 5.00pm and hung up banners and posters. We met up with organisers Shea and Aly and slowly players trickled in. However, by 6.30pm we only had 160 participants. Time for action. Volunteers were sent to find more players on campus. The flood lights came on and dusk was falling. Several people left because they couldn’t wait any longer. Things were looking desperate.

At 7.20pm we had 243, only 8 more to go. Finally at 7.27pm we hit 251 and a new record. The game started at 7.35pm with 260 and everyone gave a sigh of relief. Well done the Right To Play club at the University of New Brunswick. Now that’s 8 GWR’s for 8. Only two to go, Ultimate Frisbee at Mount Allison in Sackville, NB and Ice Hockey at Memorial University in St.John’s, NFL.

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McGill University GWR Love Clap

Posted by martin.parnell |

Over the last 18 days I’ve camped in a number of beautiful conservation areas across Canada. Last night was not one of them. Andrew, McGill Right To Play Club organizer had secured a spot for me in the McGill University parking lot. I was expecting maybe an open area where I could set up my tent under a tree. What I got was angled parking along the side of a building. No problem. At 8.30pm up went the tent and I bedded down for the night.

This morning Lauren, one of the RTP club members met me and we headed over to Leacock 132, the site of the Guinness World Record attempt for the most people doing the Love Clap. Andrew had received some bad news last week. The record had been 300 and the RTP Club had lined up a high School for the event. However Guinness had emailed him and told him that a new record had been set at 645 participants. Andrew and the club had to move quickly. They contacted Dr. Gold, a Professor at McGill, and he agreed that his class could participate at the beginning of the lecture. However he said that the attempt had to go ahead at 9.30am. This was great but that would be only 545 students. We still needed more.

At 9.00am Jasmine, I and two other RTP McGill Club members headed over to the FACE (Fine Arts Core Education) High School just across the road from the University. Jasmine had studied there for a couple of years and said that one of the teachers would help us. We met Zac and he took us to a class. The teacher was terrific and told me to make a pitch to the class. She said that whoever wanted to go could. At 9.10am we all headed out and it was like the Pied Piper of Hamlin take a group of 40 student over to the auditorium.

At 9.30am the lecture theatre was packed. Andrew demonstrated the Love Clap and then we all did it. 14 seconds late it was over and a huge cheer went up. Did we get it? Nobody was sure. I had to hit the road as I was heading to Fredericton, 9 hours driving away. During the trip Andrew called me and said that they had counted 620 but that there was a couple more sign-up sheets to come in. I arrived at my friend’s Tom place at 8.00pm and at 9.00pm Andrew and the whole RTP club called. The final figure had come in at 671. They had done it!!!!!! What an achievement. Not only had they raised $10,000 for Right To Play from their Spin-A-Thon but they had nailed the Guinness World Record. That’s 7 for 7.

Tomorrow it’s the University of New Brunswick and Capture the Flag, GWR attempt #8.

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Posted by martin.parnell |

In life there are many mysteries such as how do you store butter so it’s not too hard or soft? Why do we need 3 remotes for the TV and how do you get rid of ants? Another question that I have is how do newspapers pick what stories to run?

In yesterday’s Toronto Sunday Star there was a two page article on the “World Poutine Eating Championship”. For those new to the world of Poutine, it is a common Canadian dish, originating in Quebec, made with french fries, topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds. The “winner” ate 14.75 lbs of the delicacy in 10 minutes. It’s too bad that a group of middle school students at Dublin Heights School who set a Guinness World Record in ball hockey didn’t get a mention. It just shows you the power of the potato.

Today was a travel day and I left Toronto at 5.30am heading to Montreal. I had a 12noon meeting with a group of McGill students at a McDonalds in the city. This was part of the 10,000 coffees initiative where experts talk to leaders of the future about their experiences in work and life. This was also the group that was organizing the 7th Guinness World Record on the “Canada Quest for Kids” road trip. They had had some bad news last week. They are attempting the most people in the “Love Clap”, a fun pat-a-cake game for kids, and thought the record they had to beat was 300. However Guinness informed them that the record was now 645 so they were scrambling around to get more people.

We had a good chat and they headed off determined to make up the numbers. I hope they can pull it all together for tomorrow. As the old saying goes “The proof of the Poutine is in the eating”.

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Posted by martin.parnell |

Once in a while you meet someone who stops you in your tracks. It takes you by surprise and happens at the most unexpected times. Yesterday shortly after arriving at Dublin Heights Elementary and Middle school in Toronto I was asked if I would participate in the Right To Play National Inspirational Speaker Series. Last year at this time I had travelled to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and spoken at 10 schools in five days.

The grade 1 to 8 students from Dublin Heights were assembled in the gym and Nancy from Right To Play gave an overview of the charity and what they do. I then came up and told the students about my bike trip across Africa, running 250 marathons in one year and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in 21 hours. I then explained my 10th Quest, visiting 10 Universities to attempt 10 Guinness World Records in 26 days in order to raise $400,000.

At the end of the talk I presented a copy of MARATHON QUEST to Principal Dan and as I was going back to my seat I was stopped by a student in a wheelchair and he said “can I have a book?” I looked down and saw a small boy with the biggest smile ever. I dug out a book, signed it and gave it to him. We started chatting and he said his name was Daniel and he was in grade 8. I asked him about the casts he had on both legs and he told me that he had injured one swimming and the other playing basketball.

We said goodbye and headed outside for the ball hockey world record. All afternoon as students went on and came off the playing area Daniel would wave his short plastic hockey stick and shout encouragement to the players. I asked Daniel’s Mother if he was going to play but she told me he was too fragile. Later in the afternoon the clouds came over and the heavens opened but Daniel didn’t move. He kept right on cheering the players. At the end of the game we went into the school. I meet Daniel and his Mother was drying his hair. It had gone all spiky and he was laughing away.

Sometimes you meet people with a life force that burns like a Roman Candle. Daniel improves the lives of every person he meets. You can’t feel down when you’re around Daniel. He is a very, very special boy and he’s given me the strength to finish the job.

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Hand Ball GWR #6

Posted by martin.parnell |

I’ve been staying at my friends David and Krista’s in Toronto. I love the camping but it’s also great to sleep in a real bed now and then. Today is the 6th Guinness World Record attempt. Ball hockey at Dublin Heights Elementary and Middle school. However before I head out into the big smoke I have to talk to Lori, a Journalist from the Daily Gleaner in Fredricton. Lori asked me what the number one thing I wanted out of the day and I said that we had enough people to get the record.

My next stop was Dublin Heights. I had agreed to give a presentation to the students of the school with Right To Play representative, Nancy. The children were pretty active and ready to head out and get into the action. We headed out and at 1.15pm the game started. Two honoured guested turned up half an hour into the game. Sami Jo Small and Billy Bridges, Sami Jo is an Olympian with two Gold’s and a Silver. She was the goal tender for the Canadian women’s hockey team from 1998 to 2006. Billy Bridges is a Canadian Olympian in Sledge hockey and has a gold and a bronze medal.

I was on a shift with Sami Jo and Billy and I almost scored a goal. The figure that had to be beaten was 60 and they continued until they hit 103 players. Almost immediately the heavens opened and the rains came. GWR #6 completed. I’m taking tomorrow off before I head to McGill in Montreal and the Love Clap.

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