LONDON, ONT. -- Tom Massel wasn't going to let a pandemic keep him from participating in his 40th consecutive Terry Fox Run.

“I thought I'd come back here rather than run my neighbourhood," says Massel. "COVID isn't going to stop me."

The 'every timer' was one of hundreds who hit the Terry Fox Parkway Sunday morning.

Keith Tapp, 75, did his annual 10 kilometre run. Like Massel, he's been going since the beginning in 1980. "Every day I open the paper and read more and more people die of cancer," says Tapp. "Until I can read a paper three days in a row and no one dies of cancer, I've got to keep going."

Unsure how to handle the virtual run, local organizers set up a table near the parkway in Greenway Park. There they greeted by runners coming through who were stopping near the Terry Fox Memorial to take pictures and read more about one of Canada's most inspirational heroes.

"It's a very unique day but everyone wants to enjoy the weather," says Don Clayton, a volunteer with the London Terry Fox Foundation. "A lot of people have come out to do this and I can't say enough about the people of London."

Despite this year's run going virtual, they are going to surpass this year's fundraising goal, and last year's total. "I got an update this morning, we're up to $108,000 and I'm blown away," says Dr. Peter Ferguson, a volunteer and London cancer researcher.

"We've seen people running though with Terry Fox Run shirts on. Donations are up 10 per cent online and that doesn't count the cash coming in the next few weeks."

More than $800 million has been raised by the Terry Fox Foundation since its inception. Over the past four decades advancements have brought cancer survivorship leaps and bounds.

"The technology to do the research has so much improvement that we're looking at things we never dreamed of 40 years ago," says Ferguson, an associate scientist at Lawson Research Institute.

Tapp says it's important to keep going year after year. "I've issued a challenge to my sons, grandsons and granddaughters," says Tapp. "I've told them grandpa might not go 40 more, so they might have to take over some day."

Massel echoed that sentiment. "Cancer has been in my family so this has to be done. We have to carry on the torch as long as we can and keep running and donating to the cause."