Fred Fox knows it’s not going to be an easy hike. He found that out last year when the weather closed in and kept his group from reaching the monument installed by the provincial government at the top of Mount Terry Fox.
Climbing a mountain, especially in honour of your brother Terry, isn’t supposed to be easy, because Terry’s Marathon of Hope wasn’t so.
Nor is the fight against cancer that millions face daily, added Fred, a Maple Ridge resident.
“It’s just the spirit of Terry Fox – you don’t do everything easy,” said Fred.
“This is a big challenge but it’s nothing compared to what Terry Fox did for 143 days,” while on his run.
Fred is joining a group on the Mount Terry Fox Trek that will try for the second time to reach the summit, located in Mount Terry Fox Provincial Park, near Valemount, this weekend.
The group is also intent on reaching the monument, installed at the top of the windswept peak on a barren cairn of rocks in September 1981. Fred’s entire family was there that day after arriving by helicopter when the provincial government unveiled the memorial.
Fred said a heavy snowfall last year kept the hiking group from reaching the memorial by foot.
With any luck, this year they can hike to the summit – an elevation of 2,000 metres – then climb another 600m to the memorial, then hike down the mountain, all within 12 to 13 hours.
“It’s been 35 years. We’re hoping we can get there by foot,” Fred said.
“Terry is the inspiration for the event, for sure.”
Accompanying Fred on the fund-raising event is his daughter, Kirsten, and Terry’s other brother and sister, Darrell and Judith.
The climb this year involves B.C. and Alberta hikers, as well as a few from Quebec, Ontario and Newfoundland.
Fred said for much of the hike last year he was thinking of his brother, who in April 1980 dipped his foot into the Atlantic Ocean in Newfoundland and started the long, lonely run, known as the Marathon of Hope, along the Trans-Canada Highway, to raise money for cancer research.
Others along the hike had the same thoughts and were thinking of others who had fought cancer.
During the five months of the Marathon of Hope, Terry ran 5,373 kilometres on his artificial leg, averaging 42 kilometres a day.
He had to stop his run on Sept. 1, 1980 after cancer spread to his lungs.
Terry returned to Port Coquitlam for more cancer treatment, but died in June 1981, without being able to resume his run across Canada.
Since then, the annual Terry Fox Runs around the world continues to raise money for cancer research.
Thursday, Sept. 1 was the 36th anniversary of the day that Terry was forced to stop in Thunder Bay, Fred pointed out.
Another monument, named Terry Fox Lookout, overlooking Lake Superior, was installed just off the Terry Fox Courage Highway, east of Thunder Bay.
Fourteen roads and 15 schools across Canada are also named after Terry Fox.
“To have a mountain named after him in our home province is pretty cool,” Fred said.
Terry Fox Run coming up Sunday, Sept. 18
Any kind of weather, apart from a typhoon or blizzard, probably will be better than the downpours during last year’s Terry Fox Run in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
So Alison Wakeling, organizer of the run, has high hopes for this year.
“Last year, it was a torrential downpour, so we’re just thinking sunny thoughts,” said Wakeling.
This is the 36th year of the Terry Fox Run, started after Port Coquitlam resident Terry Fox began his Marathon of Hope in Newfoundland in April 1980.
“There are people who have done every run,” said Wakeling.
For the second year in a row, the local Terry Fox Run will start from Spirit Square in Pitt Meadows.
People can enter into the one-kilometre, 5km or 10km distances, and can run, walk, bike or roller blade the course, which runs east into Maple Ridge then returns back to Pitt Meadows.
“It’s really a big team effort, the Terry Fox Run. Everybody has their job, because we all share our passion for the Terry Fox dream,” Wakeling said.
She took over the run organization duties after the previous run organizer, her husband, Sandy, died in July 2013 from cancer.
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with the run beginning at 10 a.m. There’s no entry fee, but donations are accepted.
Registration and donating can also be done online at terryfox.org or by texting.
Alison Wakeling said the run usually draws between 250 and 500 people.
“There’s no minimum donation required. It’s whatever people can contribute.”
Wakeling said that Terry’s brother Fred Fox will be on the Mount Terry Fox Trek this weekend. A group of hikers will attempt to reach the memorial in Terry’s name at the top of the mountain near Valemount, B.C.
“I’m kind of hoping to do that next year,” said Wakeling, acknowledging it will be a tough hike.
“You don’t grow unless you do stuff that’s hard. There’s no bigger challenge than getting a cancer diagnosis in your life.”