Ontario runner's three-decades long streak comes to an end

Derrick Spafford had been running every day since Boxing Day of 1989

Canadian running streak legend Derrick Spafford was forced to call it quits on his epic journey of running every single day for more than three decades, and it took hospitalization for a pulmonary embolism to finally get him to tap out. 

Spafford began his streak on Dec. 26, 1989. On Jan. 19, 2021, the day he went into the hospital, Spafford was sitting third on the list of active daily running streaks. An incredible 31 years and 24 days. 

“When I was admitted into the hospital, I knew at that point that something was seriously wrong and that the streak was going to end,” Spafford explains. “I was still in the ER just before midnight (before being admitted to hospital), and I can honestly say that was the first time I didn’t really think about trying to get a run in before midnight. My health was more important and I knew I was in danger and was scared. Your health trumps everything else.”

Amongst other things, Spafford is a running coach, founded the Dion Ontario Snowshoe Running Series and owns Spafford Health and Adventure. Although he’s looking forward to a return to his active lifestyle, he says he doubts he’ll begin another streak. 

“My main goal right now is to get healthy and recover as best as I can, and get back to doing the things I love,” he says. “I expect that once I can start running again, I will run most days as I really enjoy running trails in nature every day, but will also probably tend to mix in more fat biking, mountain biking and XC skiing as well.”

Spafford says the main attraction to the streak in the early days was to build consistency in training and improve his race results, but it changed over time.

British runner, and three-time Olympian Ron Hill, is the king of running streaks. His record stands at 52 years and 39 days.  

“Later on in the streak, I found that the stress release and just enjoying being in nature on the trails were as important, if not more important,” Spafford says.

Congrats to Spafford for his incredible streak and get well soon. 


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