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Ryan Keeping during his run in Cape Breton. (Source: Facebook)

Nova Scotia man running across Canada in Terry Fox’s footsteps

By Jacob Moore Apr 17, 2024 | 6:13 PM

Ryan Keeping walks up a hill on the side of a Nova Scotia highway, south of Truro, wearing a Terry Fox t-shirt and a baseball hat with the ’04 Blue Jays logo. It’s April 17, cloudy and about 6 degrees.

Cars pass and some honk. Seventeen days into his run across Canada, more people recognize him on the side of the road.

He’s running across the country to raise money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and to prove that he can push himself to accomplish something like this.

“I’ve always been obsessed with pushing my limits,” says Keeping. “You only live once. You only have your body one time. You only have one life, so I intend on really getting the most out of it.”

He wakes up every day at 5 a.m., watches a motivational video of Terry Fox online and starts running by  6 a.m. He’ll run 75 kilometres before stopping between 7 and 9 p.m. Then he posts on social media, eats a bunch of food, and tries to get five hours of sleep.

It might be hard on is body to do that for a total 99 days, but he says he feels fantastic.


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“There’s going to be moments where I’m not feeling good, but there’s such a greater purpose to it that, really, that doesn’t matter to me so much,” says Keeping.

“I go through 99 days of pain to potentially change my life and change other people’s lives, so it’s really, you know, just the sacrifice I’m willing to make.”

Inspired by Terry Fox

Keeping started his run from a Terry Fox memorial statue in St. John’s, N.L., on April 1st.

“Terry Fox, to me, that’s the greatest Canadian of all time. What he did, at such a young age, it’s so admirable,” says Keeping.

“If there’s a day where I’m not feeling good, I think of him and there’s no way I’d ever quit.”

Terry Fox ran to raise money for cancer research, which inspired Keeping to run and raise money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

It’s also a cause that’s close to his heart, Keeping says, because almost everyone in his family, including his father and his grandparents, have heart issues. He says his siblings recently found out they have the same gene that causes those issues.

According to his GoFundMe page, he’s raised $41,705 as of 5:40 p.m. April 17. His goal is $100,000. The page says 80 per cent of donations will go to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. The other 20 per cent will be used for expenses on the run.

Hometown Halifax run

Keeping will visit his hometown Halifax on Thursday. He plans to do his last 5 kilometres at Point Pleasant Park, starting at 6:30 pm.

He expects thousands of people to show up. If people have to walk, that’s okay with him. He says it’s more about bringing the community together.

“It’s crazy, the amount of people coming out with me and running their longest run ever, or communities bringing me into their homes, or people leaving care packages on the side of the highway,” he says.

“Actually, it makes me so proud to be Canadian.”

His following has grown significantly since he started. He says he started with about 10,000 Instagram followers. Now, he has more than 80,000.

He knew people would support him if he ran, but he never imagined he would get so many messages from people all over the country.

His catchphrase, “flip the switch,” means that people can trick themselves into believing they can do things. For him, it might be the run. Other people have messaged hm saying they flipped the switch and did their homework or cleaned their house.

“When I noticed that I was motivating and inspiring people and could really change people’s lives, I realized like, that’s my purpose in life. Anything else I do is just temporary, like any job I worked was temporary,” he says.

Learning as he goes

Keeping started his journey running three 25-kilometre runs a day and taking breaks in between, he says, but he’s feeling better now, taking one break a day.

“It’s kind of all trial and error,” he says.

Keeping says he will make it to the Pacific coast. It feels like the whole country is behind him, he says, so there’s no way he could stop.

“I have supreme self-confidence and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get there,” he says.

“It’s going to feel really good when I finish, and then it will be on to the next big challenge after that.”