My journey to Run Across Canada - solo and unsupported!
I'm Jon Nabbs (Joe to my old friends from childhood, and Jonathan if I'm in trouble!).
I'm a New Zealand-born life enthusiast who loves to explore this beautiful planet. I’m also a member of a family that has been heavily affected by cancer.
In 2022, I walked the length of New Zealand - a non-stop journey of over 3,000Km. One of the highlights of that adventure was seeing how much it inspired people I met along the way!
This year, I’m aiming to bring that same feeling to others, by running across Canada - alone, and without a support crew. Along the way, I’ll be visiting children fighting cancer to share the adventure with them.
Canada is the 2nd largest country on earth. From the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, the journey will be approximately 8,000Km (around 195 marathons), with winter temperatures possible to get as low as -40 degrees Celsius.
Only 7 people in history have managed to complete the journey. No New Zealander has done it yet.
Both my parents lost their lives to cancer in 2020/21. I know the desperate feeling a family experiences when they receive a diagnosis, and the importance of continuing to find hope, inspiration, joy, and trying to live through that period on your own terms.
I've always been fascinated by Canada and wanted to visit to see it for myself: the Rocky Mountains, the North Atlantic, The Great Lakes, The Bay of Fundy, the great North American prairies, the Yukon and its Northern Lights, the Northwest Passage, the list goes on...
In recent years, I've connected with some wonderful Canadians - such as Ingrid, my college girlfriend, from Ottawa - who introduced me to the human side of Canada as well.
And even more recently, I discovered the story of Terry Fox, the 22-year old Canadian leg-amputee who attempted to run across the entire width of Canada to raise funds for cancer research in the 1980's.
Images of him are easily found online, and I found them very moving - one of the most poignant examples I'd ever seen of a life dedicated to its ideals. And his ideals are outstanding: courage, compassion, hope, determination, service, optimism, authenticity.
In 1999, Canada officially voted Fox as their greatest national hero, but his ideals stand as an example for all of humanity. I hope that as a foreigner paying tribute to this great Canadian by attempting to re-trace his footsteps, I can help to spread his message beyond the country's borders, to New Zealand and the rest of the world, for people from all places to be inspired and follow his example of a life lived with integrity.
The majority of the fundraising efforts are going to be coordinated online. My first intent was to focus this primarily on my home community, benefitting the Child Cancer Foundation of New Zealand.
However, during my months of training for this challenge, I've realised that as much as this adventure will be about conquering the distance, it will also bring me into the lives of Canadians I encounter along the way... and cancer touches their lives too. It doesn't just affect people in New Zealand.
As a result, I've decided I want to serve Canadian communities as well.
Throughout the Cross-Canada Run, I’ll be asking people to help raise $60,000 in support of child cancer patients across New Zealand and Canada, so they can be better equipped with treatment options, have access to support services, travel to and from the hospital, and continue to feel they have some control as they fight a fight they shouldn't have to fight.
On LinkedIn, I’ll be sharing my lessons learned from the adventure.
If you’d like to get in touch, send me an email, or a private message via Instagram @jon.nabbs
Thanks for following the journey, and supporting children in their fight!