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Cross-Canada runner reaches Revelstoke, following in the steps of Terry Fox

Jon Nabbs started his run in May 2023 in St. John’s, Newfoundland
Jon Nabbs with his buggy full of supplies in Revelstoke after more than 6,000 km of running on his way to Victoria, BC. (Zachary Delaney/Revelstoke Review)

On a dark and busy Trans-Canada Highway 1, near the outskirts of Revelstoke, a headlamp could be seen on a mild, misty, night, Wednesday Jan. 31.

It bobbed its way west on the shoulder of the road. Was it a bird? Was it a plane? No, it was New Zealander Jon Nabbs on an adventure worthy of the Superman suit he wore, running across the country to raise money for child cancer patients in New Zealand and Canada.

“I come from a family that’s been heavily affected by cancer,” said Nabbs.

In May 2023, Jon Nabbs departed from St. John’s, NL, and headed west on the highway.

Inspired by Canadian legend Terry Fox, Nabbs sought to run in the footsteps of his hero, literally.

With a goal of running from coast to coast, Nabbs has traversed more than 6,000 km and raised over $60,000 for his cause. As he carefully crossed the highway towards Revelstoke’s welcome sign, he stopped to talk about why he took on such an ambitious challenge, the journey so far, and the one still to come.

“The idea that this crazy big project’s actually going to come to an end one day, and one day soon. It’s weird. It’s scary. It’s fun,” said Nabbs.

Jon Nabbs is from Cambridge, New Zealand. Before starting his run he wasn’t much of a runner except for when he played rugby, or when he went out in evenings a few times per week.

He lost his parents, Margaret Forsyth and Brian Nabbs, to cancer a couple of years ago. He explained their diagnoses taught him the “importance of continuing to find hope, inspiration, joy, and trying to live through that period on your own terms.”

Nabbs characterizes himself on his website as a ‘life-enthusiast’. In 2022 he walked across New Zealand — a non-stop 3,000 km trek. The hike was an adventure for him, but he said that the inspiration it gave to others also had a profound impact on him and sparked his current adventure.

Margaret Forsyth and Brian Nabbs, Jon’s parents. (Jon Nabbs)

Like Terry Fox, Nabbs dipped a hand in the Atlantic Ocean on May 3 and headed west.

With a goal of raising $100,000, Nabbs wanted to use his adventure for good. He started leveraging social media to help build up his following along the way, which led to a live-stream on Tik Tok. He’d always planned to don a superhero costume but had been leaning towards Deadpool, in the hopes of getting on the radar of the character’s actor, Ryan Reynolds, who is active on social media and frequently donates to various charities.

But a young man in Nova Scotia named Rylan had another idea.

“Rylan suggested Superman and I just went with it,” said Nabbs.

Nabbs has been on the road for months. Averaging a marathon per day, he’s seen blistering cold temperatures of –50 and endured the seemingly never-ending flat roads of the prairies. As he neared Revelstoke, Jordan Bradley decided to meet up with Nabbs on the highway and run a few kilometres with him.

“My dad showed me the Facebook link of him running, and in capital letters was ‘YOU HAVE TO GO MEET THIS GUY,’” recalled Bradley with a laugh.

Bradley got a taste of Nabbs’ journey when he ran out the highway to meet him.

“Truck drivers don’t exactly drive slow out here. So, having them whip the rain and water at you while you’re running? It’s kind of brutal,” he said with a laugh.

Despite the wet weather and loud road, Bradley said Nabbs’ spirits were high.

Jon Nabbs pushes his buggy west from the Atlantic Ocean. (Jon Nabbs)

Standing by the glowing ‘Revelstoke’ sign, Nabbs reflected on the run so far.

“I’ve been blessed by just how fantastic Canadians have been,” he said.

For much of the trip, Nabbs has camped wherever he stopped or taken a warm bed when it’s been offered. As he made his way into Revelstoke, a friend-of-a-friend offered him a place to stay for the night and he was appreciative.

Still, the long road has taken its toll on Nabbs’ body.

“I’ve got, like, seven different cases of tendinitis, all over my legs and, like, lower back and glutes and stuff, which can be pretty painful. But it’s tendinitis, it’s manageable.”

For some time on his run, Nabbs remembered feeling like he was in a never-ending tunnel. Now he’s casting his eyes ahead to the light at the end, which is closer than it’s ever been.

“I’m excited for it. I think for a little while. I was nervous…Like, I never thought this thing would actually end. It’s so huge.”

With some challenging terrain still to come, including the Coquihalla, Nabbs recognized the road ahead will not be forgiving. With the other provinces behind him, he is looking forward to the last leg.

Friends of Nabbs’ parents will be meeting him in Vancouver before he heads across to Victoria to complete the trip, bringing an end to more than 7,500 km of running.

Nabbs continues to post updates on his Instagram along the way. To donate to his fundraising efforts, visit his website.

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