CALGARY- After months of preparation, the world’s longest hockey game is underway.
The puck dropped at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday at the Chestermere Recreation Centre for the Hockey Marathon for the Kids.
It’s the second edition of the marathon. In 2012, 40 players set a Guinness world record with a game that lasted 246 hours.
Many of the same players are back, hoping to set a new record and raise $2 million for local charities, including the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
“I talk to the hospital on a regular basis,” says organizer and player Alex Halat. “They are still taking patients, so until they stop taking patients, we will keep doing it.”
The marathon will be a test of endurance.
“Last game, we had guys with bleeding feet; one guy, we had to drill holes in his nails to relieve pressure. One guy had knee surgery, one guy had two hip surgeries,” recalls Halat. “One guy played with a broken foot, another played with a broken shoulder.”
We choose to do this to our body – a little kid in the hospital has no choice.
8-year-old Sienna Wood was on hand for the opening ceremony as an honorary coach.
For much of her short life, the Alberta Children’s Hospital has been her second home; she has had 33 brain surgeries.
“They are raising money for the Children’s Hospital so kids like me can have treatments to get better. I still don’t like going into surgery and stuff. I get scared when I have to go in surgery.”
Two years ago, John Feradi brought his young son, Jordan, to the hockey marathon.
“They took his wheel chair around and treated him like a king. They brought him to centre ice and he did the puck drop,” says Feradi. “Jarome Iginla was here; it was a win win for everybody.”
It was a ray of light at a really dark time for us.
Jordan died a few months later at the age of eight.
Feradi is now playing with Jordan’s name on his jersey.
The 40 players include 19 new faces.Veterans say they are more prepared for the gruelling marathon this time.
“Doesn’t matter who you are,” explains Halat. “11 days of no sleep – you’re going to break down. So it is more or less getting ready for the emotional aspect of it.”
“We brought pictures of kids, pictures of wives and family members, things that are going to get you through it. Because you are going to miss them. I’m going to miss putting my kids to bed every night for the next 11 days. Those are the things you are going to think of and that will break you down over the 11 days.”
Sienna’s mother, Brenda Wood, is grateful the marathon is back to support sick children.
“We are so thankful for the hospital; without them, our family would be smaller by one.”
-with files from Carolyn Kury de Castillo