Press coverage in 24 Heures Montréal:
Running through the smoke
by Étienne Laberge
What would you do to convince young people not to smoke? Retired British Colombian anti-tobacco activist Errol Povah asked himself the same question before deciding he’d cross the country running from one ocean to the other to denounce the practices of the tobacco industry.
The resident of Victoria, BC has been running the equivalent of a marathon a day since May 31st just to sensitize young people not to smoke.
Determined to save on hotel costs, he sleeps in his minivan. “I run around 20 kilometres, then I retrace my steps to the van for a total of 42km. I get in the van and drive another 20km down the road”, he explains.
Thursday, the 50-something athlete stopped in Montreal, in front of the offices of Imperial Tobacco, after 5 000 km of jogging. An anti-tobacco delegation, including some 30 students from Collège Charlemagne, greeted him with cheers and congratulations for his accomplishment.
Youth in the target’s bull’s-eye
“Tobacco sellers continue to mock public health by developing new products ever more attractive for young people”, he said to a rally made up mostly of high school students.
Maxime Roderbourg, a member of the Gang allumée at his school, said he was surprised at the runner’s tenacity. “He’s brave to run. It’s very cold this morning.”
Errol Povah hasn’t put his bags away yet as he’s heading Friday for New York and the headquarters of Philip Morris International, some 700 km from Montreal.
“I hope I’ll be as well received there as I have been here”, he said enthusiastically, pointing at the group surrounding him.
A tough challenge
The sheer length of his route has forced him to do much of it alone.
Despite the exceptional side of his run, he refuses to consider it unique. He reminds people that Terry Fox (5 373 km, running), Steve Fonyo (7 924 km, running) and Rick Hansen (40 000 km in a wheelchair) did the same thing, or better, given their respective handicaps.
Original article in French: http://24hmontreal.canoe.ca/24hmontreal/actualites/archives/2010/11/20101111-142213.html