Ultramarathon legend Al Howie dies

A man whose incredible stride and record-breaking runs endeared him to fans throughout the Cowichan Valley

A man whose incredible stride and record-breaking runs endeared him to fans throughout the Cowichan Valley has died at age 70. Al Howie, a Scottish-born ultramarathon runner who called Duncan home since 2005, died Tuesday.

Howie first took up running as a hobby in the 1970s after quitting smoking. He moved to Victoria in 1978 and began long-run training between Island cities, frequently running around Cowichan Lake where an annual race named in his honour was held in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

In 1980, Howie ran his first marathon in Edmonton, after which he ran from there to Victoria, where he then entered the very first Royal Victoria Marathon.

These events kicked off a decade of incredible feats.

In 1981, he set the Canadian and North American records for 24 hours of continuous running. Held in Ottawa, it was called the Self-Transcendence 24 Hour Race, and Howie took first place each year from 1981 to 1985. In 1987 he broke the record for longest continual run, completing 580 kilometres in 104.5 hours.

He also ran the length of Britain in just over 10 days.

Howie was beset with several health conditions during his life.

In 2007 he received the Perpetual Trophy for Excellence and Sportsmanship from the City of Duncan.