Calgary runner crosses British Columbia in 18 days on cross-Canada mental health adventure Calgary man runs across Canada for mental health awareness
CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Skylar Roth-MacDonald is set to join legendary athletes like Terry Fox and Rick Hansen. In the past 18 days, the 24-year-old has traveled more than 1,000 kilometers from Vancouver to Crowsnest Pass on the first leg of his trip across Canada.
His plan is to continue his race with the finish line in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The 24-year-old ultra-runner will cover more than 7,000 kilometers to get Canadians talking about mental wellness.
âI think everyone can relate to mental health issues in one way or another,â he said. âEspecially during the pandemic, I know I can. “
Roth-MacDonald also has a personal reason for dedicating the race to mental health awareness.
âI have lost two very good friends to suicide and I see the impact it leaves on a community,â he said.
LISTEN: 660’s Devon Banfield talks to Skylar Roth-MacDonald on day 19 of his adventure
Roth-MacDonald told 660 NEWS he has been training for the feat for some time. He adds that overcoming his own battles with mental health has also helped him prepare.
âThis race is a lot like dealing with depression,â he said. “But you push yourself to put one foot in front of the other, and that’s how you pass to the other side.”
Statistics Canada reports that every day in Canada, 10 people commit suicide.
The canadian government reports that men and boys account for more than 70 percent of suicide deaths among people aged 15 to 64. They represent 80% of suicide-related deaths among those over 65.
Roth-MacDonald told 660 NEWS he’s also trying to show people you can do whatever you want, including running through the world’s second largest country.
âI show people that anything is possible if you take it step by step,â he says.
The trip was not smooth. The ninth day saw him separated from his crew for hours, without any cell phone service. As he prepared to camp outside for the evening, he felt he was not alone.
It was the end of the day’s race, and Roth-MacDonald was being stalked by a puma. Mass in hand, he managed to fend off the wildcat, and his crew tracked him down shortly after.
“It shook me a bit,” he said, adding that a crew member had joined him for the first leg of the next day’s race to help him through.