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Cross country traveler hits milestone near Clarenville

Steve O’Brien, who is travelling across Canada to raise awareness to keep kids in school, recently hit his last major milestone in his nation-wide journey.

Steve O’Brien crosses the 13,000-kilometre mark in his cross-country trip, just outside of Clarenville. O’Brien finished his journey in St. John’s this week.

While about 10 kilometres outside of Clarenville, O’Brien crossed the 13,000 kilometre mark. That left only 225 kilometres before he finished his voyage in St. John’s this week.

But what’s unusual about his incredibly long trip is he’s not just running. He’s not even just biking. O’Brien is incorporating 12 different modes of transportation — ranging from snowshoes and cross-country skis to a longboard skateboard and the absurd pogo stick.

The teacher and former national track star began in April and now will challenge children across the country to match his efforts in a relay across Canada, raising money along the way. In the past, he’s had hockey and track aspirations dashed and now wants to help young people realize their dreams.

All money raised will go towards school and youth groups for things like sports, music and art equipment, clothes, food vouchers and transportation.

When O’Brien hit the 13,000 mark Friday evening, he was on the highway past Clarenville on his snowshoes.

He said his 12-rig journey is actually a world record.

“It’s never been done,” O’Brien told The Packet as he marched his final kilometre before 13,000.

“Most cross-Canada tours are only about 7,500 (km), so now people think I went down to one end and came back,” he laughed.

For some of the more challenging ways to travel, like pogo sticking, it makes his trip difficult. Originally, he wanted to log at least 50 kilometres on the stick, but only managed 10. It was the only goal he didn’t accomplish.

“Pogo-sticking takes so much out of you,” said O’Brien. “It’s just like being on the national team running 400 metres. After I finish, I feel like throwing up and passing out!

“My coach would always give me hell, ‘Pogo sticks were made to go up-and-down, not across Canada!’”

O’Brien also praised Clarenville recreation director Brandon Reardon and said he is one of the best managers he’s dealt with across Canada.

He said Reardon kept up with him over a year and was very involved.

O’Brien even presented Reardon with a special relay baton for his efforts helping him raise awareness to keep kids in school.

O’Brien even participated in the Clarenville Santa Claus Parade through Reardon on Saturday while passing through town.

“I’m a Christmas maniac (too),” said O’Brien.

Twitter: @jejparsons

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