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Heart of Adventure: Pipp Parr

August 30, 2017

Canuck Place nurse, Phillipa “Pipp” Parr has conquered a truly awe-inspiring list of athletic challenges.

For six years she raced in the BC Cup Down Hill Mountain Biking series, even collecting a Gold and Silver medal in the World Masters.

More recently, she’s competed in the Crankworkx Air Down Hill in Whistler; the Mind Over Matter Adventure Race, combining kayaking, running, mountain biking, and orienteering; the Canuck Place Adventure Race with her son, and her favourite, the Marathon De Sable, a 7-day, 250km self-supported ultra-marathon through the Sahara Desert.

Apart from tents and water, racers carry their own gear through a desert where temperatures peak above 50 degrees, and dip as low as 5 degrees each night. One day even features a 97 km run. By the final day, Pipp’s feet were so swollen she had to cut her shoes to get them back on. But she finished.

It was her first multi-day course. Before starting out, Pipp hadn’t even completed a regular marathon before.

“I learned a lot about my body and mind’s strengths training and doing this race,” Pipp explains. “I did the most challenging race I have ever done in the most extreme but most beautiful environment that I have ever witnessed.”

Throughout it all, it was the support of other people that made this race special for Pipp, and kept her going. From her tent mates each night, to the fellow racers on the course each day.

While new friends helped, Pipp also depended on support from those back home. Printed emails were distributed each day at 5pm.

“You have no idea how grateful I was for those,” she says. “I really looked forward to 5pm when they delivered the mail and I would relish in each word as I lay so far from home and everyone at Canuck Place.  To know so many people were watching gave me such strength.”

Pipp’s Canuck Place colleagues live-tracked her progress each night shift, and kids in the schoolroom worked on a project throughout the week, tracking her progress while learning about the Sahara.

“I think the reason I seek out these types of events is to feel life in its entirety,” says Pipp. “To push my boundaries, and to help deal with all the tough stuff in life and to have time to process all that I witness and am privileged to be part of in my job.”

Pipp believes there’s a correlation between her races and choosing to work at Canuck Place.

“I feel like it is such an honour to be allowed to be a small part of a family and child’s journey as they strive to live life to their fullest potential,” she explains.  “Striving to be the best I can be and pushing myself to my limits is just tiny in comparison to what the families at Canuck Place face every day. I see children struggling to breathe and their bodies are working so hard to be alive and live every moment to their highest potential.

“So I ask myself, ‘Why shouldn’t I try and do that too?’  They are all stronger than I will ever be. If I can make one tiny step in their ultra-marathon easier then I feel I have done my job well.”

For Pipp living with an adventurous heart means seeking out things you never knew you were capable of doing, and to see how living to your fullest potential comes back to the smallest, but most important things in life.

“People are often frightened to be adventurous but everyone has adventures waiting for them no matter how small or large those might be. You just need to see them.”

You can take on an adventure of your own while supporting Canuck Place care, and nurses like Pipp at the Canuck Place Adventure Race.

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