Al Howie

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Al Howie was born in Scotland September 16, 1945.

From Marathons to Ultramarathons to Multiday Races: 1980-1988

Howie began to train obsessively for longer and longer runs. He won his age group in his first full-length (26.2 miles) marathon in 1980 in Edmonton. He then ran from Edmonton to Victoria to enter the first annual Royal Victoria Marathon in which he placed fourteenth overall.

In May, 1981, Howie set the Canadian and North American record for the annual Sri Chinmoy International 24-hour race in Ottawa, and the following year improved on his distance by covering 150 miles and 395 yards in that continuous day and night (no sleeping) race. He won the annual 24-hour race in Ottawa five years in a row, in 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1985. In 1983, he ran from Winnipeg to Ottawa prior to participating in the 24-hour event. In 1986 while he was recuperating from a bout with cancer, he ran his worst 24-hour ultra in which he covered about 100 kilometers. He was back in top form for the 1987 Canadian 24-hour Championship in Ottawa, winning the event for the sixth time.

A cancerous brain tumour behind his ear appeared in the summer of 1985 forcing temporary withdrawal from all races. Adopting a macrobiotic diet, Howie had recovered sufficiently by spring of the following year to run 1200 kilometers from Victoria to Fernie in southern B.C. where some of his treatment had taken place.

In 1987 he broke the record for the longest, continual run, completing 580 kilometers in 1422 laps around the University of Victoria’s Centennial Stadium in 104.5 hours. That’s 4 non-stop days and nights to promote the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. In 1988, he set a record for the fastest run in the 880 mile British End to End. Then he ran the length of Britain—1400 kilometers—in 11 days. A few months later, he ran from England through France to the island of Sardinia in Italy where he participated in another marathon. [edit] The Peak Years: 1989 to 1991

The ‘Ultra Trio’ was born in 1987—a set of three ultra races of 700, 1000 and 1,300 miles. (Sri Chinmoy Centre, History). No runners finished the 1300 Miler in New York in 1987 and 1988, but in 1989, Al Howie was the first person ever to complete the grueling Sri Chinmoy 1300-mile distance, setting the world record at 17 days and 9 hours. He also set a world record for 2000 kilometres in the same race.

Later that year, Howie set a record of 255.5 miles for the 72-hour “Across the Years” race in Phoenix, Arizona, which doubles as the last ultra of one year and the first of the next, running from December 29, 1989 to New Year’s Day, 1990.

Howie's longest and most famous run was in the summer of 1991 when he ran the entire length of the Trans Canada Highway from the Mile Zero sign in St. John's, Nfld, to Mile Zero in Victoria, B.C. covering the 7295.5 km in the record time of 72 days, 10 hours and 23 minutes. A brass plaque at Victoria’s Mile Zero commemorates the event, and qualified him for the Guinness Book of Records. He had raised $750,000 for the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for children with special needs.

Two weeks after his Trans Canada run, Howie was back in New York where he improved his own record time for the 1,300 miles, completing the distance in 16 days and 19 hours, and earning him his second entry that summer in the Guinness Book of Records. His Sri Chinmoy running mates called him "the trans Canada crossing god."


Duncan's running man slows down By Katherine Dedyna, Times Colonist June 22, 2011

Al Howie on Wikipedia