Student runs three-day ultramarathon to raise money for cancer foundation
Kevin Simmt (Political Studies, ’11) crossed paths with a mother grizzly bear and two cubs and was swept away – twice – while trying to cross a powerful river all in the name of raising money for cancer.
Mr. Simmt, a political science student, and his friend Daniel Biggs spent three days this past weekend running 135 kilometres for their ‘Visit Heaven – Experience Hell’ fundraising ultramarathon along the wilderness trails of Jasper National Park in Alberta.
Mr. Simmt, who is from the Edmonton area, ran the race in honour of his ‘opa’ (grandfather) George, who passed away from cancer in February. His opa was a German immigrant who was homesick when he first arrived in Canada but claimed he was finally “at home” on his first visit to Jasper National Park.
The Queen’s student thinks his opa would be proud of both his effort to fight cancer and running the ultramarathon itself. “But my opa was a man of common sense. So he might say ‘Kevin –135 kilometres? Really?’” laughed Mr. Simmt.
If running for three days up and down nature trails isn’t hard enough, Mother Nature threw in a few more obstacles.
On the first day, Mr. Simmt tried to cross a waist-deep raging river seven times before taking a big detour realizing this is the way people drown. On day two, he had a bear encounter. The curious cubs walked towards Mr. Simmt, forcing another detour.
“I know in most cases bears are afraid of humans and won’t attack. But I had on a heart rate monitor and it was at 200 beats per minute at some points,” says Mr. Simmt, who started running in Grade 11.
On the final day of the adventure, the pair was running along trails high in the mountains when a storm and fog swept in, greatly reducing visibility and making navigation difficult.
Mr. Simmt’s body took a major pounding. An old stress fracture flared up during the run so that by day three every step was painful.
The adventure so far has raised $3,000 for the Alberta Cancer Foundation.