Contributed photo David Pennington, holding Poseidons’ trident, takes a breather on the bumper of his Friendly Drifter van, as he nears the conclusion of his Ocean Rescue Run.

Emotional finish for twice-delayed Ocean Rescue runner

South Surrey’s David Pennington set to complete run from Mexican border to Vancouver

Better late than never.

That’s the philosophy of 31-year-old South Surrey native David Pennington, who, in the spring in 2016, embarked on what he intended to be a 42-day run – from the California-Mexico border all the way to Vancouver – which he dubbed the Ocean Rescue Run. It was intended to raise awareness of waste-management and water issues that threaten Raja Ampat, Indonesia, a region made up of 1,500 islands.

After a few setbacks and scheduling issues, he finally crossed the finish line Saturday.

Pennington, an Elgin Park Secondary grad and experienced distance runner, first laced up for the journey in mid-April of 2016, and ran 38 straight days – averaging about a marathon per day – until he arrived in Reedsport, Ore. It was there that, with just a few days left in his trek, he was forced to stop running after developing a staph infection in his foot.

“My whole foot just kind of turned purple, my leg started going red… so I had to come back home right away because oral antibiotics weren’t doing the job,” he said.

Immediately upon arriving back on the Peninsula, he received medication, via IV, for 10 days at Peace Arch Hospital in order to fight off the infection.

“It had entered the bone in my big toe, and if you don’t treat it, it’s just going to get worse and worse, so it was a pretty easy decision to hold off (on finishing the run).”

Being sidelined for the better part of two weeks posed another problem, too, from a scheduling point of view – a now-healthy Pennington didn’t have time to go back to Oregon and finish the final leg of his adventure, because he was due to head back up into northern B.C., where he works in the jade mining industry.

For a second time, the finish line would have to wait.

Pennington returned from near the B.C./Yukon border earlier this spring, and immediately put plans in place to knock off the last few kilometres, beginning in Reedsport last week.

Perhaps in an attempt to make up for lost time, Pennington logged huge distances – as many as 82 km per day – until he arrived at the Pacific Highway Crossing on Wednesday evening.

On Friday, he ran 37 km from South Surrey into Vancouver, and on Saturday, completed the final 10 km, eventually ending the trip at Kitsilano Beach, where he celebrated with family and friends.

To further draw attention to his cause, Pennington was also dressed as Poseidon – Greek god of the sea – when he crossed into Canada.

“(Wednesday was pretty emotional for me, because I finally felt like I’d done it,” he told Peace Arch News Thursday afternoon, an off-day on his running schedule.

For the entirety of his run, his girlfriend, Kate Sullivan, drove just ahead of him in their van, drumming up support for the cause along the way. In total, Pennington says they raised about $6,000, and further funds will hopefully be raised through a soon-to-be released children’s book, Ocean Warriors, that the pair have created. (For more, visit www.friendlydrifter.com)

Throughout the journey – both last year’s initial 38 days, and the 2017 portion – Pennington said he had just a few close calls running on the shoulder of the road, but by and large, vehicles gave him plenty of space, and support he received along the way was also strong.

“Locals were super friendly and a lot of people believed in our cause. We received a lot of help along the way. It’s amazing the support I had,” he said.

“It was just super gratifying to be able to actually do it.”

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Contributed photo David Pennington holds clean up plastic bottles from the beach in Raja Ampat, Indonesia during an visit to the region.

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