Documentary on ‘Godfather’ of Cape Breton Running finally complete

A documentary about an 80-year-old Cape Breton runner who inspired generations — even while battling cancer — is set to show in his home community of Sydney, N.S., for the first time.

"I was quite emotional watching it for the first time,” said Michelle Murphy, a long-time friend of Peter Hanna — the subject of the documentary, called “The Last Leg.”

Murphy calls Hanna one of her best friends and has run countless kilometres by his side. To see the man she's looked up to for years finally get his due on the big screen, she says it will be a chance for others to find out why he is considered a local legend.

"He's just been there for everyone over the years, and never looks for any thanks or anything like that,” Murphy said. “He's earned it, and he certainly deserves it. It's great to have it all there for his family and his grandchildren to always have."

For the documentary's producer, it’s the end result of more than a year's work. The finished product was shown Saturday at a theatre in downtown Sydney full of Hanna’s supporters.

"Peter really enjoyed the documentary. He got to watch it with his family,” said Herbie Sakalauskas, who produced the documentary for Bell Fibe TV1. "I'm really excited for people to watch it, and for people to see just what a special human being Peter Hanna is.”

Hanna has been battling health difficulties as of late. His friends are glad he could complete his last two legs of the Cabot Trail, and the documentary, while he still had the energy.

"He's started chemo treatment, and we're not getting out for our walks or runs now,” Murphy said. "Definitely he wouldn't be able to do them now, and I don't know if he'd be able to do them down the road. The timing of being able to get them done this summer was perfect."

Near the end of the 45-minute film, Hanna himself summed up his feelings on his long life in athletics, and the many friends he has made.

"I'm really happy that I did what I did over the years,” Hanna said. “Even though maybe I don't deserve as much recognition as I'm getting, I certainly am thankful for all the friends that I have, and had, and all the accomplishments that I did."