Adam Williams – Kamloops This Week
Edward “Fast Eddy” Dostaler wasn’t sure what to expect when he reached Clover Point on Vancouver Island Saturday afternoon, Oct. 29.
Just hours before beginning the final stretch in his 27,000-kilometre, 608-day journey, Dostaler was gearing up for one final 24-hour run when he spoke to KTW on Friday, the final leg of his There and Back Run spanning the roughly 117kms from Nanaimo to Victoria.
The 28-year-old finished running across Canada and back on Saturday, an effort to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, finishing at the spot his run began in March 2015.
It has been a tumultuous two years for the Kamloops native. There have been highs and lows. He has been challenged, both mentally and physically, more than he expected. The fundraising hasn’t gone as he hoped, but he feels he has inspired. He admits that, at times, his personality may have rubbed people the wrong way. He has no regrets about breaking the run into chunks, rather than doing it in one straight shot across the country and back.
Despite the finish line being in sight, he isn’t yet thinking about life after the run.
“I’m still taking it one day at a time, even though it’s the last day,” Dostaler told KTW before setting out.
“It’s another run, but at the same time, you’re trying to keep your head in the game. You know it’s the end, but you don’t want to say it. Everything that you worked towards is about to end in 30-something hours.
“It’s also scary and daunting for me because the last three years I knew exactly what I was doing. Tomorrow, I don’t.”
An “extremely difficult” two years
Dostaler set out on what he dubbed the There and Back Journey Across Canada in March of 2015.
By that time, the then 26-year-old had already spent roughly a year planning the endeavour. He planned to run for approximately 48 weeks, making his way across the nation and back with the help of 28 pairs of shoes, $25,000 in funds and little more than a running stroller and a tent.
He would raise money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and the Alzheimer Society of Canada, the former a tribute to a professor at Thompson Rivers University, the latter an ode to his grandmother, the one who nicknamed him Fast Eddy as a child.
Originally, the run was expected to span 18,036 kilometres. Dostaler said he would be the first person in history to run across Canada and back continuously and unsupported. He set his fundraising goal at $250,000 and budgeted $25,000 for promotions, food and the occasional hotel stay.
Donations never materialized as he’d hoped. He was at just $3,000 a few months into the run, reaching roughly $9,000 by the East Coast. In August 2015, as he ran through Quebec City, his personal financial situation was increasingly dire and he told KTW he was contemplating not doing the back half of the run.
In October 2015, he halted the run entirely, flying back to Kamloops from Gander, N.L.
When Dostaler did return to Newfoundland, it was with a vehicle. For much of Eastern Canada, he ran in segments, running back to collect his car and move it to the last place he ran to every 10 kilometres.
The breakups in the run made his claim of running continuously across Canada and back a dubious one. Questions also arose about why the tracking software that had once allowed fans to follow the journey on the Fast Eddy website was no longer available. Dostaler said he at times felt the need to disconnect from technology, that he wasn’t comfortable with people always knowing where he was.
Dostaler has no regrets about the manner in which he did the run. He said the school visits and outreach he was able to do by virtue of having transportation made it worth it. Coming back to Kamloops, which coincided with his grandparents’ wedding anniversary, was necessary.
Runs have lost their lustre
Greg Douglas would never discourage anyone from doing a cross-Canada run.
But the director of annual giving for the Canadian Cancer Foundation admitted that running, on its own, is probably no longer enough.
“Doing a run may have lost its lustre in terms of being novel — the novelty factor,” Douglas said.
Douglas said events are among the least efficient ways of raising funds for a charity like the Canadian Cancer Foundation, bringing with them the highest costs. It can take more than 40 cents to raise one dollar with an event.
But that’s not to say they don’t have value. If the event doesn’t happen, the foundation doesn’t get anything. With an independent project like Dostaler’s, the fundraiser itself absorbs the overhead — as evidenced by the funds needed to make the There and Back Run happen.
To be clear, Dostaler dedicated half of his run to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, a separate entity from the Canadian Cancer Foundation. But in speaking generally about donations, Douglas said planned giving through a will is the most effective means by which the foundation raises funds nowadays.
Dostaler remains uncertain about the total he was able to raise throughout the course of the There and Back run. He estimated roughly $50,000 has been raised for his two charities, a number that includes funds donated by groups that were inspired by his efforts.
In an effort to keep the money in the provinces of each individual donor, Dostaler didn’t utilize a central forum where the total funds could be tracked.
He takes solace in the fact he’s raised awareness, but Douglas cautioned against the term.
“As a fundraiser, awareness is not all that valuable until it influences or effects, either in the short or long term, funds that are really needed to address the cause, the issue, and provide the research,” he said.