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Crossing the country for the fun of it

Quebec roller-skier on an anti-smoking campaign

Jorge Barrera
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 09/02) - Philip Shaw is not insane, he just gets a kick out of crossing Canada without motorized transportation.

NNSL Photo

Philip Shaw roller-skied to Yellowknife from Newfoundland. - Jorge Barrera/NNSL photo

That's 8,000 kilometres of sheer joy that Shaw, 35, experiences crossing the second largest country in the world under his own power.

The Morin-Heights, Que., resident stopped in Yellowknife on his second Canada crossing.

In 1995, it was on inline skates for the fight against arthritis. This time it's on roller-skis on an anti-smoking campaign.

The first time he set a Guinness World Book of Records mark, completing his trip in 72 days - the fastest ever on inline skates.

This time he is taking his time, which is why he ended up in Yellowknife.

"This is my last crossing and I have to make it memorable," said Shaw who plans to continue on to Whitehorse.

Shaw left St. John's on May 18 and he expects to get to Victoria sometime in October.

He figures he's already skied 9,000 kilometres because he's taken so many detours north.

Shaw is attracted to Northern Canada.

"The further north you go, the more Canadian it gets," said Shaw.

A professional cross-country skier by trade, who recently won a bronze medal at a World Cup race in Quebec, Shaw is also trying promote roller-skiing as cool.

"I want to make it an in-vogue sport," said Shaw who looks pretty snappy in his orange, yellow and red, tight-fitting racing suit.

But smoking is the real reason Shaw is huffing and puffing across the country.

His father underwent heart surgery after smoking for 50 years.

"My father quit. Anyone can quit," said Shaw.

In the various towns he's visited, Shaw often goes to the local bars and gives a little anti-smoking speech with a cowbell.

"I was told to be careful the further west I went," said Shaw.

So far he's had no serious altercations but he does admit to toning his speech down if bar patrons are rough-looking.

Shaw did not roller-ski to Yellowknife because of Highway 3's lack of shoulders.

"It's suicide," said Shaw.

Travelling alone across the country with a vehicle, Shaw had to come up with a way drive and ski at the same time.

"I ski for 50 kilometres and ski back and then drive for 100 kilometres," said Shaw.

His ex-girlfriend travelled with him last trip but now he is alone.

"I wanted to go it alone," said Shaw.