It’s not every day you see a church filled with people in superhero outfits. Then again, it’s not every day a man returns home after running 5,000 miles across Canada.
In fact, before February 3, when Jamie McDonald of Gloucester, England, completed a coast-to-coast run across Canada that he’d begun 275 days earlier, no one had ever hoofed it across America’s neighbor to the north without support.
McDonald covered the entire distance—the equivalent of 200 marathons—dressed as the D.C. Comics superhero The Flash, hence the dress code at the recent homecoming celebration held at the Gloucester Cathedral. Superhero costumes were “optional but preferred,” the BBC reports.
The getups were appropriate, as McDonald has certainly earned the right to call himself a hero. Over the course of his journey, he raised more than £100,000 (about $166,560) for children’s hospitals in Canada and the Pied Piper Appeal in his hometown, and like any good hero, he suffered en route to completing his task.
Along the way, he went through 10 pairs of running sneakers and faced temperatures of -40F. He nearly lost his nose to frostbite, and one his feet is now “misshapen” and permanently injured, the BBC reports. Passing through Banff, Alberta, he was robbed and beaten.
Predictably, these and other hardships left his Flash costume smelly and tattered. Luckily, his family stepped in and made him presentable for the homecoming.
"He wanted to keep it really authentic but his mum insisted that she wash it before the celebrations,” McDonald’s publicist Rich Leigh said.
McDonald’s exploits even caught the eye of Prince Harry, whose private secretary, Edward Lane Fox. Esq., sent a letter congratulating the tireless do-gooder on his “huge achievements,” the Gloucester Citizen reports.
"His Royal Highness was very impressed with your appetite for pain and would have me wish you every success in future endeavours,” the letter read.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg