Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Danny Kassap Fund

Danny Kassap, one of Canada’s finest distance runners, very nearly died last month when he collapsed while running the Berlin Marathon. Now he needs help from the running community to pay for the life-saving medical care that he received while hospitalized in Berlin. If you follow distance running in Canada, you’ve probably heard of Danny Kassap. A native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, he came to Canada as a teenager in 2001 for the Francophone Games. He made a daring escape from the athletes' village, seeking refugee status in Canada on the basis of political persecution.

Meanwhile, Danny found his way to Toronto, and began training with the University of Toronto Track Club. In 2004, he won the first marathon he ever ran in a very impressive time of 2:14:50. For the next several years, he continued to run very fast times on very high mileage, while also working full-time and obtaining his high school equivalency. Danny has never been on any form of social assistance.

After numerous legal setbacks, Danny finally became a landed immigrant in April of this year, and a Canadian citizen in August. As a result, he was finally able to run a race outside of Canada. In April, he traveled to England to run the London Marathon, one of the world’s most prestigious and competitive road races. He finished 15th, just three places behind the reigning Olympic marathon champion Stefano Baldini. In September, he traveled to Berlin to run his first marathon as a Canadian citizen.

For the first several kilometers in Berlin, Danny appeared poised to have another outstanding race. However, near the 5 km mark, disaster struck when Danny suddenly collapsed. A good Samaritan who happened to be in close proximity to him at the time began administering CPR almost immediately, and a paramedic on a motorcycle got to him within a minute. Danny received between 15-19 shocks from a defibrillator, and the paramedics worked on him for 45 minutes before his condition stabilized. He was placed in a medically-induced coma for several days, and remained in a Berlin hospital for over two weeks before he was able to return home to Toronto.

The doctors determined that Danny suffered a “ventricular fibrillation” (an uncoordinated contraction of the cardiac muscle) brought on by myocarditis (an inflammation of the heart), which in turn was caused by a cold virus. Danny will not be able to run for at least the next three months, but doctors are cautiously optimistic that he will make a full recovery.

Danny received outstanding medical care while in Berlin, but it has left him with a crippling debt. Even with OHIP covering a portion of Danny’s medical bills, he still owes $18,000 to the hospital which cared for him, and which discharged him on the undertaking that the amount owing will be paid in a timely manner.

Danny presently works full-time as an assistant manager at the Running Room. Eighteen thousand dollars is a prohibitively large amount for him to have to repay quickly. Danny has been unable to contact his family since coming to Canada, and even if he could, they would be unable to provide him with any financial assistance. However, we are hopeful that Danny’s many friends and well-wishers within the running community will be able to provide him with some measure of support.

Danny’s primary motivation for running the Berlin Marathon was to secure a spot on his first Canadian national team so that he could proudly represent Canada at next summer’s World Championships. Danny has made a tremendous contribution to the Canadian running community since arriving here more than seven years ago, and now is our chance to return the favour.

Should you wish to make a donation to help cover the cost of Danny’s medical expenses, , please go to the following link…

Oct 20 - 26 (9:43)

Good week of training early on before having to take it easy on the weekend race directing the Sydenham Fall 8km. Feeling better each day and hip continues to improve.

Weekly Running Total = 9:43

Mon/20 (1:40)
am (1:10) Crosslight3. Felt pretty good after run yesterday. Ran north trail to Sandpit. Hip a little tight near the end, but feeling much better.
pm (:30) Slingshots. Easy run on our grass trail with Siku.

Tue/21 (2:06)
am (1:00) Skylites. Easy run on cinder trails at Lemoines before weekly Running Room shift. Was a little hungry as didn't have much breakfast before. Felt pretty good. Running a tempo tonight, so stopped a little early. Just missed all the rain which makes me happy.
pm (1:06) Skylites. Including 30 min tempo run on Cataraqui Trail West. Trail was great after dark with all the new trail work and fresh cinders put down. Felt quite good and ran even paced for entire workout. Pretty cool night out.

Wed/22 (1:47)
am (1:17) Crosslight3. Nice run out Cataraqui Trail West to grass hill past curl road. Felt surprisingly good after tempo yesterday. Hip a little tight, but not bad. Cool morning.
pm (:30) Raceblades. Easy run with Sara, Siku, Meela and Jesse on Cat Trail East. Felt good. Dogs had a blast.

Thu/23 (1:57)
am (1:27) Crosslite2. Steady run on K&P Trail from Sydenham Road south of 401 to Rideau Trail turnoff, just past Burr Brooke, then took Rideau Trail to Unity Road, West 10min, then back on K&P. Good loop. Felt really good. Cool morning. Rideau Tr section was quite nice.
pm (:30) Raceblades. Easy with Sara on Cataraqui Trail West. Legs felt good. Hip a little stiff, but feeling better when running.

Fri/24 (1:32)
am (:46) Crosslite3. Easy run on north trail.
pm (:46) Skylites. Steady run with Dylan on Cataraqui Trail West. Felt pretty good. Hip coming around.

Sat/25 (:20)
am (:20) Skylites. Easy run on grass trail. Very busy getting ready for Sydenham Fall 8km tomorrow.

Sun/26 (:21)
pm (:21) Skylites. Easy on Cat Trail West. Very busy day race directing Sydenham Fall 8km. Race went well. 230 registered. We hit a window of good weather for the race too. Results are posted at

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rock and Ice Ultra

I am very excited to have found out that I will be running in the 2009 Rock and Ice Ultra in Yellowknife next March.

I will be competing in the Diamond Ultra (225km/6 stage/6 day race). Participants are required to run while pulling all of their supplies in a pulk (sled) and then sleep in tents on the trail each night. Last year I competed in the K-Rock Ultra (135km/3 stage/3 day race) where we were able to have our overnight and any extra gear shuttled between stage camps. Diamonds valued at $6,000 will be awarded to the first place male and female finishers.

I really can’t wait for this race as I’ve thought about it so much, while learning a great deal about the event from last March. I feel as though I have a pretty good idea of what I need to do to fully prepare for this…both training and gear wise.

Most of the little nagging aches and pains since Haliburton have been left behind now and I’m slowly getting back into full training again. One of the things I’ve been looking into a great deal recently has been how to build a pulk. I’m hoping to build my own and plan to start training with it as much as possible once the snow flies. I fully expect this will be the toughest race I have ever run, but I'm really looking forward to it. Should be fun!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Oct 1 - 19 (11:09)

Pretty good week of training. Started out with a solid workout on Monday, followed by a few good days, before cutting back a little. Bit of a sore hip from driving to Toronto with my wallet in my back hip pocket (stupid!). Felt better each day though. Feels good getting some longer runs in again. Look forward to increasing further.

Weekly total = 11:09

Mon/13 (2:00)
am (1:23) Gazelle. Great hilly tempo run on Everest Lane (actually called Everett Lane, but Everest seems more appropriate). First day using this road and is an awesome spot for a hilly tempo. Some really good climbs, but also sections where you can open it up. Ran 40 minutes of tempo in the middle of run. Will be great as we can start from Gould Lake Barn and get in an hour or more if we want to. Really great find. Looking forward to getting back out there. (Ab w/o).
pm (:37) Skylites. Easy run with Sara on Cataraqui Trail East. Also, picked up my new training partner for Rock and old car tire. Attached a rope to my waist pack and ran while pulling it back to the car. Will be starting to add some runs in while pulling a tire behind me to get ready for the pulk. Good fun!

Tue/14 (1:53)
am (1:10) Gazelles. Easy run at Lemoines before work. Was a little tired getting going, but felt pretty good after about 40 minutes. Nice morning.
pm (:43) Crosslite3. Easy run to polling station to vote (Go Greens!). Legs a little tired from the past few days.

Wed/15 (2:01)
am (1:16) Crosslite3. Nice run up north trail and a loop of the Sandpit. Beautiful morning with a cool breeze. Legs felt much better once I got going. Everything great (except that Harper got elected).
pm (:45) Skylites. Easy run on Cataraqui Trail West with Sara. Legs a little tired tonight, but not bad.

Thu/16 (:40)
pm (:40) Raceblades. Easy run on Cataraqui West Trail w/Sara. Took today as a recovery day and just ran once. Drove to Toronto for a meeting with Canadian Running Magazine. Interesting meeting brainstorming ideas for their April Trail Running Issue. Picked up a pair of running snowshoes to review for January issue as well. Enjoyed the trip to Toronto, but wouldn't want to live there. Good to get home and out for a run. Was going to stop part way home and run, but just wanted to get back as soon as I could. Sara had done a track workout earlier, so was nice to get out for an easy run with her on her pm run.

Fri/16 (1:40)
am (1:20) Crosslite2. Easy run along Cat Trail West to grass hill past curl road. Beautiful crisp morning out. Felt a little sluggish, so went a little shorter than I had originally planned.
pm (:20) Frees. Easy run on our grass trail with Sara, Siku and Jesse. Right hip a little sore from drive yesterday, so took it easy.

Sat/17 (:40)
pm (:40) Raceblades. Easy run with Sara on Cat Trail West. Hip still a bit sore, but better than yesterday.

Sun/18 (2:15)
pm (2:15) Raceblades. Great run at Frontenac Park with Sara. Beautiful day out. Sunny, cool and still some good colours on the trees. Ran Big Salmon Lake Loop from Parking lot. Footing tough on the south shore with lots of leaves covering the rocks and roots. Hip felt better today. Heartrate was already high before even starting to run....On the way to the park, a kid drove an ATV out onto the road from a driveway without looking, forcing us to hit the brakes hard to avoid hitting him. Crazy!!! The kid must have been about 6 yrs old. The parents were following along behind the kid in their ATV. If they'd given the kid a shotgun and a case of Budweiser, the ATV lesson would have been complete. Just another reason why ATV's suck, and kids should not be allowed to drive them. Felt a little shaken after. Was good to get into the woods.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Oct 6 - 12 (10:40)

Great week of training. Feels so good to get back into more mileage again. Felt pretty sluggish early in the week, but much better as the week progressed. Knee is getting better each day. Still a little weak, but improving.

Weekly total = 10:40

Mon/6 (1:34)
am (1:34) Crosslite3. Nice trail run at Frontenac Park with Aaron. Ran Arkon Loop from Trail Centre. Longest run since Haliburton and really pleased how knee felt. A little bit of stiffness near the end, but not bad. Beautiful day out. Was great to get back into Frontenac. Can't wait to increase more this week and aim to get a longer run in by the weekend too. Fall colours are amazing.

Tue/7 (:40)
pm (:40) Skylites. Nice run with Siku on Cataraqui Trail W. Ran with her in harness and bungeed to my waist. She continues to be timid on the way out, but pulls hard on the way back. Big negative splits. Fun run. Looking forward to the snow and hooking her up with the rest of the dogteam.

Wed/8 (1:42)
am (1:12) Crosslite3. Great run up the north trail with a loop of the Sandpit. Knee feeling good. Body a little tired from increasing a bit this week though. Was strange....just as I was on my way back towards Yarker I came across a handmade sign on the trail saying 'Don't Stop Believing'. Have no idea why it was there, who is was there for or who made it, but took it as a sign from the Running Gawds that it was time to start cranking up my training again. The last couple miles ended up being a little quicker than planned because of this.
pm (:30) Skylites. Easy run with Sara and Siku on Cat Trail East. Legs tired, but good to be back at it.

Thu/9 (1:32)
am (1:02) Raceblades. Beautiful sunny fall day. Ran Cat Trail W to Curl road. Legs a little tired, but may be trying to run a little too quickly right now for current level of fitness.
pm (:30) Raceblades. Nice relaxed afternoon run with Sara, Siku and Neeka on Cat Trail East. Legs felt very refreshed after.

Fri/10 (1:32)
am (1:02) Crosslite2. Nice run on Cat trail west. Same run, same distance as yesterday, but felt so much better. More energy. Knee at 95% right now, the only thing is still a little bit of weakness there, but much better than it has been.
pm (:34) Fireblades. Ran McKeown trails and Hunt Camp with Sara before going to get groceries in Napanee. Beautiful run with all the fall colours along the escarpment. Really miss those trails.

Sat/11 (2:12) Crosslite2. Great run at Frontenac Park with Sara. Ran from Big Salmon Parking, Little Clear Lake Loop, through Moulton Gorge and back on Arkon East. Beautiful colours in the park. Was good to be out a little longer again. A little depleted from not enough food, but good.

Sun/12 (1:28)
am (:20) Skylites. Easy on grass home trail with Sara and Siku.
pm (1:08) Gazelle. North trail to Sandpit. Felt very good once I got going. Should have worn trail shoes as ATV butchered muddy spots on trails this weekend.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sept 29 - Oct 5 (6:13)

Have continued to improve all week and feeling much better. Knee is getting stronger each day. Two laser treatments this week really helped at Napanee Chiropractic. Looking forward to increasing further next week. Planning a 90' trail run with Aaron at Front. Pk on Monday. Probably Arkon. Looking forward to getting back in the park.

Weekly total = 6:13

Mon/29 (:45) Skylites. Steady on Cat Trail West with Sara. Knee stiffened up a little at the end but good otherwise. Went in for laser treatment today, so a little achy afterwards.

Tue/30 (:31) Skylites. Easy with Sara, Siku and Meela on Cat Trail East. Knee feeling pretty good after laser yesterday.

Wed/1 (:40) Crosslite3. Easy on Cat trail West with Sara. Felt pretty good today. Knee seems to be improving. Less pain, just a little weak still.

Thu/2 (1:03) Crosslites3. Ahhhhh, finally. Tested my knee a little more today and felt great. Ran steady on Cat Trail West to Curl Road. Ran a little harder than I had planned, but felt so good to be out there. Felt knee tighten a little at 50mins, but no pain. Laser treatment a couple of hours after the run.

Fri/3 (1:02)
am (:21) Raceblades. Easy with Siku on Cat Trail West. Felt good. Quads a little sore from running harder yesterday, but knee good. A little bit of weakness in the area, but very good otherwise.
pm (:41) Crosslite2. Easy with Sara on north trail towards Sandpit. Legs a little tired, but knee good. Feels like it's getting stronger and can push off harder now.

Sat/4 (1:12)
am (:21) Gazelles. Easy with Siku on Freeman Trail to river. Felt good. Siku's first run in harness. Didn't pull too hard.
pm (:51) Crosslite3. Easy to Steady on north trail to Sandpit with Sara, then steady on the way back. Felt really good. Knee getting much stronger.

Sun/5 (1:00)
pm (1:00) Crosslite3. Easy on Paudyn loop with Sara, then Cat E to boundary. Felt good, but a litle tired. Knee continues to feel better.