This overcast Tuesday morning Edmund Milly began his cross-Canada run in the heart of the Montreal Plateau. If all goes according to plan he will arrive, on foot power alone, at the ocean shoreline of Vancouver in late August. He posted his itinerary here.
I wanted to see for myself the start of this epic run. After locating what looked like the rendez-vous point, I found other curious followers, friends and family standing at the corner of Laurier Park. Edmund himself had yet to arrive, apparently having some trouble getting his push-cart (loaded with supplies) out the front door. A few minutes after nine he came, cart and all, ready to start. After some initial farewells to the assembled group (I don't recall any speeches made), away -westward- he went.
Some came to see him off on his journey. Others, like myself, wanted to take in a piece of the action. A very small piece. We headed south towards Old Port, west along the shoreline, then along Lachine Canal. I parted ways with Edmund next to the Atwater market. After 45 minutes of running someone estimated Edmund had completed thus far about 0.2% of his trip. An average of 240 minutes of running per a day awaits him over the next three months.
I know Edmund from his brief stint with the McGill cross country team. I was sorry to seen him leave so soon after joining, and thought the team had lost an enthusiastic runner. But clearly he had bigger goals in mind.
Why run across Canada? It's Edmund's journey, so it's for him to say. In his Q&A with CBC radio he explains himself, at least in part. There's a meditative quality to his answers, and indeed it seems to be a meditative sort of journey. Something else ringed noteworthy: He's rather involved in music (he sings in a choir and has a tattoo of Bach on his arm), but despite his enjoyment of music, plus the length solitary nature of his journey, he's not planning to listen to any while he runs. No iPod, no radio. I quote him saying "The mental experience of running as a thing that should be taken seriously in its own right". It occurred to me how we sometimes overlook that the act of running can itself be enjoyed. It's my (shared) biased opinion; I too have long since shunned music while running (albeit after some experimentation).
By now his first day is over, with 90-something more to go. Best of luck, and hope plenty of potential lodgers find you on your path. Bon Voyage.