Apr 1, 2016


In May, I'll be running my FIRST and SECOND "official" marathons... with a whole bunch of marathons in between! From Fredericton, New Brunswick, to Ottawa, Ontario, in fact. (around 1,200 km)

Running has taken me all over the world. From ultramarathons on five continents, in some of the toughest races on earth, to the 900 km long Bruce Trail right here in Ontario, Canada. It helped me get through Cancer... And it's taught me more lessons that I can count. Really, it's not even about the running anymore. It's about challenge. It's about adventure. It's about connection.

That's why on May 8th, I'll run the Fredericton Marathon, then I'll  just keep running until I get to Ottawa, so I can participate in the Ottawa Marathon on the 29th!

In my travels and adventures, I've met lots of amazing, inspirational folks, and I've come to realize that everyone has a story. Every place has a story. My goal for this run is to interview, photograph, and document some of the people I meet, and places I run through, so that I can then share them with the world via social media. We like to be inspired. We like to feel connected. This is my way of connecting, not only races and runners, but people from all walks of life and their stories.

My support crew on the run will consist of one person, riding a bicycle! His name is Charles, he's young and energetic, he's a already cycled across the country, and he's an aspiring photographer. It's a perfect fit. We'd also like to get enough video and footage to put together a short documentary afterwards. If you'd like to help support us while we're on the road for three weeks, you can make a small donation here: paypal.me/JimWillett 

Once we get to Ottawa, we'll be met by lots of family and friends, including many of my amazing crew, the RunNinjas, who will be making the trek out to run at the Ottawa Marathon. #RunNinjas #crewlove

And please follow me on my Instagram page to be part of the journey, and see my daily posts! 

Mar 27, 2015

Take Another Step

I believe in putting yourself out there. I believe you only grow when you leave your comfort zone and challenge your perceived limits. And In many respects this video might be my most ambitious adventure yet. 

I hope you watch. I hope you enjoy. And if it resonates with you... I hope you share.
Many thanks to the amazing people who helped put this together.

Nov 17, 2014


I had the chance to run in Iceland earlier this year. It was amazing, but as you'd expect, it was tough. I twisted my ankles on the volcanic rock and moss covered terrain so many times it was starting to mess with my head. One minute I'd think "this sucks, why are you doing this? It's ridiculous." and the next It'd be " shut the hell up! Stop complaining, just take a look around at the scenery, soak it in. You're so lucky to be here." 

Of all the things I've learned from doing ultramarathons, the most important has to be the power of my mind. You tend to go to some dark places during these runs and you're going to face a ton of self doubt, self pity, and negativity in your thinking. The trick, however, is to focus on changing the words you tell yourself. Once you can learn to do that, you can change the entire experience... And so it goes with life.

When I ran the 900km Bruce Trail this autumn, it wasn't just about setting a new record. That just helped give the run a timeline. I'm generally not motivated by extrinsic factors. I knew there'd be a lot of self discovery along the way, and that's much more valuable to me.

Since running it, one of the most common questions I've been asked is, "what did you think about while you're out there running for so long?" And there's no way I could honestly answer that without going into some very serious subject matter. I thought about a LOT of things. Good and bad. Positive and negative. Important and nonsense. 

But I definitely thought about words. About how they've shaped me. About the ones I've given power to, the ones I've ignored, and the ones that I listen to when I'm in the dark places.

So while I was out running for ten-and-a-half days, I came up with this: 

The three little words that changed the direction of my life

“You have cancer”

I’ll never forget sitting in my doctor’s office, hearing them ring out in the still air
The inflections in his voice when he spoke, the faint hint of an accent, the pitch and volume of the words
Strangely though, I have absolutely no recollection of what he said next  
My mind had instantaneously blacked out everything else
All I could hear were those three words repeating on a perpetual loop

You have cancer. You have cancer. You have cancer…

And yet, they’re just words
We say and hear thousands of them every day
Maybe it’s not necessarily the worlds themselves
Rather, how we interpret, rationalize, internalize, and translate them that give them their power

Besides, they say actions speak louder than words


Then again

There are words that are so loud they’ll bring you to your knees, even if spoken at a whisper
The loudest words of all don’t even make a sound
They’re the words we tell ourselves
And they’re what determine the actions we take---or don’t take—in this world

And for a very long time, the words I told myself weren’t what I truly believed
I was living a lie
I told myself I could do anything. I told myself I had no fear
But deep inside I was terrified. Deep inside I didn’t feel good enough
Deep inside I was fragile and wearing a mask of false bravado

And my mask, my ego, was the size of a boat
And not some rickety row boat, like "old man and the sea"
But a ship, colossal in size, perched arrogantly afloat
Upon the ocean of life—unyielding and unsinkable

But history has taught us that “unsinkable” doesn’t exist
A breached hull can send even the biggest ship spiraling into the abyss

And it’s there, in the depths of our own misery and darkness, clawing our way through adversity, that our eyes are forced to adjust and we’re finally able to see things for what they are
Who we really are

I only know this now, because I’ve been to that place
The one where your fa├žade’s come crashing down all around
And what I’ve found is that when you truly hit rock bottom…
It’s the place so deep you have to look up to see ground
What I’ve found is a beautiful truth
Fear will hold you down, but courage will set you free
And it is so profound to realize we don’t have to be bound by any particular words or fears

You have cancer... You’re afraid. It’s okay to be afraid. You have resolve. You can be brave. You have perseverance. You can get through this. You can get through anything

We don’t have to be ashamed of our fears
But if we ever want to pursue our passions, we need to summon the courage to take a step
We need to tell ourselves, and then convince ourselves, to just "start"
Start wherever we are. Start with fear, with uncertainty, and with trepidation. Start with a wavering voice and trembling hands.

Start wherever we are. Start however we can. Take a step... start

Nov 19, 2013

The Kalahari

I've traveled a long way on foot, both in training, and doing ultramarathons in remote parts of the world. And I've come to realize the most important aspect of the journey isn't the actual physical distance I cover. It's the emotions I uncover. Because when we're struggling, any of us, and on our own in the middle of nowhere, the facades--what we put on while others watch--come crashing down.

Adversity brings out the truth. It exposes the most raw, vulnerable and honest version of us. It can be unsettling, though, to look that deep into our soul and see who we really are. But it's also profound. In fact, I think it's necessary, because it's where we find our real voice. So we'd better come to peace with that version of us; and learn to respect and trust it. In the end, it's the only journey that matters.

South Africa, and the Kalahari Desert in particular, will always have a special place in my heart. It reminded me that there is beauty--so much beauty--in the struggle. I needed that reminder.

The Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon is a self-sufficiency run held over six legs in seven days with set distances for each day, ranging from 28km to 75km.  Participants must carry all their supplies, clothes and compulsory safety/survival equipment for the duration of the event.

May 27, 2013

The Sights & Sounds of Rock Bottom

Sometimes things spiral downwards until we find ourselves at rock bottom. And sometimes it’s at rock bottom that we really find ourselves.

I haven’t shared this story with many people so figured it was about time...

It was a month into my six-months of chemotherapy—my spirits were already low given the surgeries, finding out the cancer had spread, and having to start chemo—when things got even worse. 

I’d completed treatment for the day and was back at home, but the usual nausea I’d been dealing with just kept escalating to the point where I’d become the sickest I’ve ever been in my life. I was delirious from the fever and my body felt like it was fighting a losing battle against gravity. I could barely move, even to throw up. And there were more than a few times when I thought “this is it, I’m going to die.”

At some point in the early evening I found myself in the hospital emergency room. They weren’t sure what was happening and wanted to keep me there for monitoring. But there wasn’t a room available so I had to wait. And I did. For several hours I just sat there, slumped over in a wheel chair, because I was too weak to stand, in a hallway off to the side. A large blanket was draped over my body and I was sporting a surgical mask, lest my compromised immune system catch any hospital germs. All that were visible were my eyes, and I can’t help but wonder what they were saying to the outside world. I know what I felt on the inside...

It was one of the lowest points of my life. I was only 36 years old. I’d been an athlete most of my life. I’d never been sick before cancer... and look at me now. This could be it. I might not make it out of here.

My brain wasn’t necessarily in the most rational state, and some of the day is still a blur, but I distinctly remember (amid the delirium, pity-party and anger) two little words starting to form in the back of my mind. They told me to “rise up.” At first it was only a background thought, but they just kept getting louder and more convincing, until eventually I had no choice but to listen.

The next time the nurse came over to check on me, I told her was going home. A few nurses and a doctor later, trying to convince me to stay, I was signing a waiver form so I could be released. And as I struggled to my feet, shuffled the hell out of there as fast as I could, I heard those words again.

It took a few days, but the fever broke and I started to get better. Now I only had five more months of chemo to endure. Something I knew I could handle no problem if I just kept listening to my new mantra.
What I’d realized, sitting in that wheelchair, was that I’d been doing things on cancer’s terms. It was about freaking time I started doing them on my own. Leaving the hospital might not have been the smartest choice, and I’m not suggesting anyone else should do it, but in that moment it was the right choice for me. I needed to let cancer know that I’d fight it with the most powerful weapon I had—my thoughts. I needed to... rise up.

There’s still not a day that goes by where I don’t tell myself those two words.