When Jamie McDonald was nine years old, his family feared he would never walk because of a rare spinal condition known as syringomyelia. A weak immune system and epilepsy were other obstacles he battled.
Twenty years later, McDonald has accomplished more adventures than most people can dream of in their lifetime.
McDonald was in Winnipeg Tuesday on his cross-country tour. He stopped in for a visit on Global News Morning to talk about his new book which aims to share his remarkable adventures and raise funds for charity.
“It started with me just trying to give back to the hospitals that helped me because I spent so much time in hospital as a kid,” McDonald said.
“Five years ago I saved up to put a deposit on a house… and I just got this gut feeling in my stomach where I was like something’s wrong, so in the end I didn’t get the house… I just thought you know, maybe I can give back.”
In 2012, he bought a second-hand bike for $100, having never cycled much before, and rode from Bangkok, Thailand to his hometown Gloucester, England.
“It was one of the worst bikes you can possibly imagine… and then I ended up cycling around the world with it 20,000 kilometres to fundraise,” McDonald said.
Just a few weeks after he finished cycling around the world, people in his hometown started asking him what he was going to do next, so McDonald started reflecting.
“I had a visa for Canada to go on holiday and instead of going on holiday, I was like ‘Mom, Dad, I think I’m going to run across Canada’.”
While doing research for the run, McDonald learned about Terry Fox who inspired him to embark on the journey even more.
In March 2013, he began his 8,000 km run, which is equivalent to 200 marathons, without the help of a support crew.
“Ended up putting my hand in the Atlantic Ocean in St. Johns and then I ran… across Canada completely solo with a stroller wearing a superhero costume.”
“It was kind of worrying especially coming up to Manitoba because the winter started to kick in,” McDonald said.
He recalls a group of Manitoba women who saw what he was doing and started a Facebook group to assist him.
“It started in Manitoba… they would call ahead into each town to bring fire engines to keep me safe to run in snow storms,” he said.
After McDonald’s run raised $500,000 he wrote a book called Adventureman: The Astonishing True Story.
“I ended up falling into motivational speaking so I do that all across the world which is ridiculous and I get paid really well so this trip in particular I’m not earning from it.”
He is travelling across Canada retracing his steps from the run, although this time he’s travelling in a car, to thank the people that helped him a few years ago.
“I’ve put 100 percent of the royalties of the book to charity and then 50 percent to Manitoba Children’s Hospital Foundation and it’s just a way of giving back into the community and saying thank you to Manitoba as well,” he said.
McDonald is speaking at 7 p.m. Jan. 16 in Winnipeg at McNally Robinson Booksellers.
You can follow his future adventures here.