Imagine running a half-marathon (21 km) one day. Then imagine running a half-marathon nearly every day for 300 days regardless of wind, rain, snow, hail, heat or bears. That’s what the Chicoine family from Wakefield, QC is doing as they run across Canada and the US to promote healthy living and fundraise for kids’ fitness.

Yes, bears. More on that later.

In 1980 Ed Chicoine was driving his blue Volkswagen beetle along Highway 69 between Sudbury and Toronto when he saw a young one-legged man half-hopping, half-running on the side of the road. It was Terry Fox running his Marathon of Hope. Amazed, he stopped his car, watched Fox go by and thought someday he too would like to run across Canada.

Thirty-one years later Ed, his wife Gaye and his six children embark on their own mission: the Marathon of Health, a 10 month journey to run 16,000 km across Canada and the U.S. to encourage people to live healthier.

As a chiropractor for the past 28 years, Ed has often worked with obese patients whose problems were linked to lack of exercise and poor nutrition. To Ed, these unhealthy choices are not only adding more weight to Canadian people, but also to the healthcare system as a whole, “We’re heading for a real health care crisis if we don’t change,” says Ed, “It’s frustrating because the health system is based so much on disease and so little on wellness and prevention.”

Inspired by Fox and motivated by his own frustration, Ed was initially going to set out alone. But his solo-run transformed into a family affair when Dayna, 23, and Jake, 19, volunteered to join their Dad and persuaded the rest of the family to come.  “My parents raised us in a healthy and active lifestyle since the day we were born,” says Dayna, “Because our family is so close, I felt like we had something really special to share and felt like we could make a difference.”

So far the family has run more than 9,000km collectively, tackling about 90km on weekdays and 50km on weekends to “take a break.” Six of them take turns running while the mom Gaye, who’s a nutritionist, and the eldest daughter Tanya prepare meals and take care of things at home (although so far Gaye has walked 6 km and Tayna has run 30 km) When family isn’t running or recovering, they’re giving a speech at a school or community centre.

Besides Ed and Jake, none of the family had been avid runners before. The girls, who had never run a half-marathon, were soon running one each day, burning between 2,100 and 2,500 calories daily. To recover quickly, they eat lots, but also drink chi tea and scarf down capsule-shaped supplements called stemcell nutrition, which Ed says releases the stemcells in your body to speed up recovery.

For everyone involved, the journey has been a life changing experience. To Jake, the best part of the adventure is seeing Canada on foot; while Whitney, the youngest, treasures the time spent with her older siblings; and Karina, who took the year off school from McGill, says this experience has made her re-think her career path. She says she’ll finish her business degree as planned, but definitely wants to work in health. Oh, and Karina also learned how to run past bears. . .

When I spoke to the Chicoine’s they were finishing up their Canadian tour and getting ready for their American leg. From now on they’re not only fundraising for kids’ fitness, but also petitioning for healthy living. The goal is to create a wellness revolution. “Literally, the way I see it, is we want to save lives,” says Ed.

To follow their journey or donate to their cause, visit their website at

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