WITH muscles tearing and knees near collapse, a North Vancouver librarian is nearing the end of the 22 marathons he set out to run earlier this month in protest of the province's treatment of teachers.
Ian Cunliffe ran though Abbotsford Tuesday, leaving him with just three more marathons to go before reaching his goal. The teacher-librarian from Canyon Heights elementary started his epic trek Aug. 8 in Sparwood, near the Alberta border, with the aim of reaching Vancouver by Aug. 31. The grueling journey was Cunliffe's way of protesting the provincial government's Bill 22, which suspended teachers' job action earlier this year and imposed strict limits on the bargaining that followed.
The pace has slowed, according to Cunliffe. His calf muscle and his thigh muscle have started to tear, and his Achilles tendon and his knees are causing him severe pain.
"We're moving forward, the pace might be glacial, but like a glacier I'm also hoping it will be unstoppable," he said, speaking to the North Shore News by phone Tuesday.
Each day Cunliffe moves for six hours, either walking or running, to get 40 kilometres closer to his goal. At the end of the day, he combats inflammation by sitting in an ice bath for half an hour.
"The reason I keep going is, I think the public deserves to have the honest facts about what's going on in public education," he said. "Right now, the education system funding has been cut so badly that it's being held together by goodwill and duct tape. And my kids deserve better than duct tape."
While running through Mission, Cunliffe met a teacher whose son is taking a Grade 10 physical education class through distributed learning, he said.
"Can someone please tell me how it's okay to have a 16-year-old boy self-reporting on PE?," said Cunliffe. "The chronic pressure of funding cuts year after year, it has caused us to compromise our ethics and integrity, and the line of what is acceptable keeps on shifting." In each town he passes through, Cunliffe said he has been receiving overwhelming support from local teachers and the public.
"I had what I call a drive-by friending. . . . I was running on the highway by myself, and this van starts driving up besides me without completely slowing down, and the door opens up, and I thought: 'Oh this is going to end badly.' Instead, two total strangers jumped out and started running with me."
On Friday, Cunliffe hopes to complete his run at Canada Place at 4: 30pm.