Cross-country charity runner who started in St. John’s arrested in Quebec
Curtis Hargrove ties his running shoes behind his camper Tuesday on a Saint-Romuald, Que., shopping centre parking lot. Hargrove faces a charge of obstructing justice because he refused a police officer’s demand Monday that he get off the highway as he was running across Canada for a charity. — Photo by The Canadian Press
It happens every summer. Cross-Canada runners, bikers, walkers, and so on, start their journey in St. John’s and set their sights on a far off goal somewhere in British Columbia. There have already been several people start their journeys this year and there are more to come.
Curtis Hargrove started his journey May 4. He left St. John’s with the goal of raising $1 million for Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton.
But his journey hit a snag Monday — he was arrested in Quebec for running on The Trans-Canada Highway.
Hargrove refused a Quebec police officer’s request to leave the highway and run on a secondary road.
He is facing a charge of obstructing justice. He spent a couple of hours at a Quebec City police station, but was released with a promise to continue his journey off the highway.
A Quebec provincial police spokeswoman said Tuesday the officer gave Hargrove every opportunity to get off the Trans-Canada Highway and avoid the arrest.
Sgt. Ann Mathieu said police even offered to draw out a route for him on Highway 132, a secondary road.
“He refused the options given by the officer — the officer had no other choice but to arrest him,” said Mathieu, who noted the law is in place as a safety measure.
Hargrove, who was born in Cold Lake, Alta., said he understands the officer was just doing his job, and he will honour his promise.
But he stands by his original point.
“They say it’s for public safety, but I mean I ran on the Trans-Canada in Newfoundland, I ran on it through Nova Scotia, I ran on it through New Brunswick — nothing. I didn’t have a single cop pull me over.
“I just found it frustrating. I said, ‘We’re doing this as safe as possible. We’re not doing anything wrong. We’re not impeding traffic ... the shoulder is huge,’” he said.
The officer obviously didn’t agree.
The 23-year-old, who has been running about 50 kilometres a day since he left Newfoundland in early May, slipped out of his reflective vest and took off his iPod before police drove him to the station. He was handed a Sept. 21 court date and the driver of his accompanying RV was fined $52 for parking on the shoulder of the highway at the time of his arrest.
The story has since gone national. Hargrove said he’s been flabbergasted by the response. He even had to take Tuesday off from running because his phone would not stop ringing.
The attention is good for his cause, but he never dreamed this is how he’d get it, he said.
“As much as it was a misunderstanding yesterday, it has been great publicity wise,” he said, adding his story trended briefly on Twitter.
“My phone exploded (figuratively). I couldn’t turn it on. It kept stalling because there was so many messages,” he added.
Whether or not the attention will translate into more money for his cause is anybody’s guess.
“Yeah, I wanted money for the cause, but it’s not like I planned for this to happen. But if it happens, yeah, that’s cool,” he said.
Looking back at the situation, he’ll chalk it up to a misunderstanding and move on, he said.
But he has been discouraged by some of the comments being made on his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/RunCurtisRun, many of which have been prejudicial and ignorant at Quebec as a whole.
“There was a lot of hateful things said on Facebook yesterday, and I just want to come clear with the public that I did not say anything hateful. Just because a couple of things happened in Quebec doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen anywhere.
“I’ve received nothing but great support since we got to Quebec,” he said.
Hargrove intends to start his run again later this week. He has so far collected $14,000 and expects to complete his trek in the fall.
He said he will get back on the Trans-Canada Highway once he’s out of Quebec.