'Godfather' of Cape Breton running completes last leg of Cabot Trail Relay Race
SYDNEY, N.S. -- The man many call 'The Godfather' of Cape Breton running finished off an achievement of a lifetime over the August long weekend.
Peter Hanna of Whitney Pier, N.S. turns 81 in November. For years, it's been a goal of his to become the first to finish all 17 legs of the Cabot Trail Relay Race - twice. It’s a total of nearly 600 kilometres over some of the most challenging, mountainous terrain.
When the last two relays were cancelled due to COVID-19, Hanna decided he would run the final two legs he needed on his own.
"I was quite confident that I could get the distance in," says Hanna, who has been battling prostate cancer for the past three years.
Herbie Sakalauskas is a filmmaker and fellow runner who has been following Peter's every step for a documentary called The Last Leg.
"You think of how many people are in their 80s, and maybe they're not able to get out and walk or run. But here's Peter getting out there," Sakalauskas says.
The final test, on Saturday, was a hilly 18.7 kilometres from Middle River, N.S. to the village of Baddeck. When Hanna came through the finish on Chebucto St. - which had been closed down for the event - hundreds of well-wishers were there to greet him.
"There was people here that I haven't seen for a long time," Hanna said. “I just think it's so wonderful that they were still thinking and come out to see me. I mean, who am I?" asked Hanna.
The day was also bittersweet. While Hanna, who is also an accomplished triathlete and an IronMan finisher, plans to continue running - he says his days competing are now over.
"I won't be racing," Hanna says. “I'll go out and do my runs and whatever I can achieve, I'll do it. Trying to get some swimming in. I haven't been biking much."
Now that Peter's work is done, next up is the documentary. Sakalauskas says the plan is for the one hour film to be ready for viewing sometime in winter 2022.
"This is more than a story about a man running. It's about life. And just being a super awesome human," Sakalauskas explains.
As for Hanna, who has been running since age 40 and racing since 1980, he takes all of the attention in stride.
"I don't think of myself as inspiring," Hanna says. “I'm just.. Peter."