British man beaten during cross-Canada charity run wants to finish

Not everyone would be able to look on the bright side after a random act of violence, but 27-year-old Jamie McDonald is just thankful he has his "man bag" back following a New Year's Eve attack at a Banff, Alberta, hotel.

McDonald, a British man who is currently running across Canada dressed as comic-book superhero The Flash to raise money for children's hospitals in both Canada and England, had just returned from a New Year's Eve party when three strangers at his hotel pulled him into a washroom and started beating him.

"The truth is I have no idea," he said of the motive for the attack. "It was a pretty surreal experience to just be pulled in a room and be beaten."

"They came out and dragged me into their room and pulled me into the toilet and three men just continued to punch me in the head and in the body," McDonald told CBC's Ian Hanomansing. "And so I kind of just scrambled to get out of the hotel. Meanwhile, I left my bag which had all my possessions for this journey."

For McDonald, the loss of the bag was the greatest tragedy. Inside was video footage of his cross-country journey which he had hoped to use to inspire others and to help his fundraising efforts.

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"When I couldn't see it, it was heart wrenching. My whole world came apart," he said.

"The bag was the most important thing of my life — it held everything of this whole adventure, all the video footage, my credit cards, everything I own," he told BBC News.

He launched appeals on Facebook and Twitter, asking for the return of his belongings.

Support for McDonald poured in as well-wishers encouraged him and made fundraising pledges. Not long after, McDonald's attackers left the bag at the hotel. It was returned to McDonald. All of its contents were still there.

"I have been amazed at the response, from friends and strangers and from the British and Canadian media, both of which have helped spread my story," McDonald wrote on his website.

"I wish the story didn't have to have an unfortunate incident in order to reach people, but I'm glad in a way because the more people that know about my journey, the more children it might be able to help."

Jamie McDonald began his 7,000-kilometre run in Newfoundland back in March.

"As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining, and the additional donations as a result of people hearing about this are hugely appreciated."

He added, "Although I'd been told my bag had been taken, it appears that whoever did so had a change of mind, as the bag was found at/near the place I left after the attack."

McDonald insisted that the incident didn't mar his impression of Canada:

"I’d like to say that this doesn’t affect my thoughts about Canada one bit – I’ve had the best experiences here and the world-famous Canadian hospitality has been proved to be anything but a stereotype."

According to the Independent, at the time of the attack, McDonald was less than 966 km from becoming the first person to run across Canada without a support team. Inspired by Terry Fox, McDonald is running the equivalent of 200 marathons in 275 days to reach his goal.

"I feel like I’ve come so far … I have to finish it. I have to make it," he told CTV News. "We need to remind ourselves that these incidents happen and it's a blip in the ocean to actually how the world is and how amazing this country is."

McDonald spent much of his own childhood in hospital, suffering from an immune deficiency and rare spinal condition known as syringomyelia. His current fundraising effort is to show gratitude for all the care he received.