European Hand Ball GWR

Posted by martin.parnell |

First night at the Laurel Creek Conservation Area camp ground just outside Waterloo. I had a great night sleep, no trucks, wailing guitars or rain storms just the hum of my friends the crickets. There were a few mosquitoes earlier but they went home to bed.

I had a big decision to make about breakfast. I wanted to stick to my “McDonalds Experiment” and head into the city. The problem was that the one I had been to yesterday had terrible WiFi and I needed to get some stuff out. Also, there was a Tim Hortons just down the road. I went to the dark side and had a dark roast and oatmeal, plus their WiFi is darn good.

I had arranged to meet Jocelyn and other members from the RTP club at University Stadium at 9.30am. Fortunately this was one of the easier places to find and there was no charge for parking. I asked Jocelyn how she felt about the event. She told me they had over 100 signed up on face book. It sounded good but from experience I knew that we would be lucky to get half of those people turn up.

At 10.45am Johann Koss, Right To Play President arrived with Reba and Kyla from Head Office. Johann had run in one of my marathons in 2010 and it was great to have him here. He told me that he was flying out to Barcelona at 4.00pm so I was thrilled he could make it. At 11.30am the whistle blew and the attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the most people to play in a game of European hand ball started. The only problem was that we started with 54 people and needed another 46 to set the record. Over the next 2 hours people trickled in. The RTP executives made calls and sent out tweets. They found a soccer team and pulled in people off the street. At 1.20pm a total of 105 had played and the record was set. Well done Wilfrid Laurier, another nail biter.

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A Game of Two Halves

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Canada Quest for Kids is scheduled to take 26 days from September 19th to October 14th. Today was the midway point and as in any good sporting event it was half time. This is true of most sports other than hockey which is three periods. Maybe it’s time to have two 30 minute halves. However I don’t think the owners would like it as they would sell less popcorn and hotdogs.

As in any half time the teams reflect on the first half, consider lessons learn and look forward to the second half. This afternoon I meet with members of the Right To Play team Shannon, Reba, Kyla and Julie and this is exactly what we did. So far five Guinness Records have been attempted and achieved. These include Volleyball at Quest University, Quidditch at University of Calgary, Tunnel ball at University of Alberta, 100m relay at Western University and European hand ball at Wilfrid Laurier. One learning was that whatever the number of people signed up on face book for an event expect half that number to turn up.

To date we’ve raised $46,106 which is terrific. Trying to achieve a GWR and fundraise is tough so a number of the Universities are looking at doing a fund raiser later in the year. I’ve traveled 6,540 km in the Toyota Tacoma “Questmobile” and it has performed perfectly. The “Tepui” tent is very comfortable and surprisingly roomy. I’ve eaten 19 McDonalds meals and enjoyed everyone. I finished the Game of Thrones Audio Book 1. Time to find Book 2.

Looking ahead. Tomorrow is GWR #6, ball hockey at Dublin Elementary and Middle school in Toronto. Then it’s off the McGill for Love Clap, University of New Brunswick for Capture the Flag, Mount Allison for Ultimate Frisbee and Memorial in St.John’s for Ice Hockey. Half time is over, time for the second half.

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Hand Ball GWR #6

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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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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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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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McGill University GWR Love Clap

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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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The Final Three

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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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House of the Gods

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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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Spirit of the Game

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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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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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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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The 10,000 kms Hockey Game

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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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Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

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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 Journey so far

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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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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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