Running has become engrained in Martin Schouw’s DNA. Having taken up the sport three years ago as a way to break the cycle of addiction, there is now barely a day Schouw is not putting in the kilometres on Prince Rupert’s roads and trails.
If there’s a race in the area, Schouw is sure to be a part of it. Outside the region — he’ll travel to it. Schouw’s passion could be summed up this September during Prince Rupert’s Cannery Road Race. Schouw finished the 21-kilometre course in 1:44:55 — five seconds under his goal. While most runners took the remainder of the day for some rest and relaxation, Schouw’s trip from the North Pacific Cannery in Port Edward back home to Prince Rupert was by foot — all 24 kilometres of it.
|Martin Schouw pauses as he hits the approximate 1/3 mark of the run between Terrace and Prince Rupert. (Submitted photo)
Those 45 kilometres would prove to be just a portion of his next endeavour. A late September run from Terrace to Prince Rupert was next up for the relentless runner, every metre of the 150-kilometre journey coming of course by foot.
Schouw had a few goals in tackling the daunting, yet beautiful, Skeena River route. First and foremost, Schouw used the experience as an opportunity to raise money for his charity of choice, Action for Animals in Distress Society, which seeks to rescue and feed neighbourhood animals. A trip to Schouw’s storage locker, piled high and stacked deep with food for cats and dogs, show this is no casual cause.
|Schouw runs to better the lives of area animals in need. His dogs Hutch, Macy and Boomer were on hand for emotional support in this quest. (Submitted photo)
Schouw also wanted to prove that personally he could pull off the task. When Schouw first started running he would strain to finish a 5K. Marathons were a far off goal, and traversing Terrace to Rupert was likely unthinkable.
Schouw found that he would have plenty of support along the way, in both towns. Fellow runner and Terracite Adam Brown — who had beat Schouw by two minutes in the Cannery Road Race — once again ran with Schouw. Brown met up with Schouw at 4 a.m., ran seven kilometres with him, ran back to go to work, then was back on the road to meet Martin as he arrived in Prince Rupert.
“He ran all the way into Rupert with me, and stayed right by my side as I was hobbling,” Schouw recalls. “Then he drove home at 4:30 a.m.”
A number of others pitched in their support as well, including Cecil Gallant who biked much of the way with Schouw, and “Big Ernie” Westgarth, who helped guide the way for Schouw in his truck.
Friends Tracy Michelle, Andrea Nelson and Denise Gallant provided plenty of assistance. And of course, there was Schouw’s partner Carrie Coley, who could be counted on for encouraging chalk messages all along the winding road.
|Adam Brown, Tracey Michelle and Andrea Nelson joined Schouw on his run for encouragement and support. (Submitted photo)
|Schouw's partner Carrie Coley left plenty of encouraging messages along the highway. (Submitted photo)
“I really don’t know if I even would have finished without all the support I had,” Schouw said. “I never dreamed I would have that much support. I would do it again tomorrow, just for all the good people that I met and how awesome it was they all came together.”
As Schouw neared the conclusion of his journey though, he realized something was wrong. After ascending the Rainbow Summit, Schouw mentioned to Gallant that there was a problem with his foot. Schouw powered through however and triumphantly ran into Rupert, approximately 18 hours after leaving the neighbouring city.
|Cecil Gallant hopped on his bike and joined Martin Schouw for his run to Rupert. (Submitted photo)
|Schouw's many friends kept his spirits high throughout his run. (Submitted photo)
“I just had so much support that I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t let everybody down. The closer we got to Rupert the more people came, it was just overwhelming,” Schouw said.
The next day, Schouw was in the hospital.
The stress of the run had caused his tendons to swell at an alarming rate. An emergency fasciotomy was performed to save Schouw’s foot. Luckily, he received treatment just in time. A 10-inch incision would leave Schouw with a reminder of the toll of such a run, as well as enthusiastic thanks for his doctors.
Just in case there was any doubt, the injury is not keeping Schouw down. “The rest of my body really wasn’t that sore. I could have ran Butze if it wasn’t for my foot,” Schouw said.
Schouw was certainly off his feet for awhile though, and forced to take time away from the activity he loves. Recently though, he has returned to light running and exercise. He expects to be back in marathon form before very long.
“I wanted to know if I could go the distance, and I don’t think I could ever be more rewarded than the supporters I’ve gotten from town, from Rupert Runners and from my friends coming together, and my Facebook clan backing me. It humbled me,” Schouw said of his help along the way.
The support extended to the donation side as well, with $5,180 raised for Action for Animals. Schouw says that despite the scary outcome, he would do it all again in an instant. After all he has been through, this will be the last thing to keep him off the road.
“It will take more than a bad foot to stop me.”
|Schouw raised more than $5,000 on the run that will go toward Action for Animals in Distress. Rosanne Komlos from Terrace and Carrie Coley assist Schouw with the presentation of the cheque. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)
Alex Kurial | Journalist
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