Chris Isfeld and Shawn Bjornsson are getting ready for one epic weekend. On Saturday, March 6th, 2021, they’ll lace up their running shoes and set out to complete ‘A Viking’s Challenge‘ for the second year in a row.
This year, Chris Isfeld is planning on running 30 km with his girlfriend and two sons. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, he won’t be able to run on the lake, so instead, he’ll be running on the Matsqui Trail along the Fraser River near his home in Abbotsford, B.C.
Because of the warm weather, Shawn Bjornsson won’t be able to run on the lake either. So instead, he’s decided to run twice the distance of the lake, or a total of 60 km in one day!
“This will be a long, strenuous, exhausting day BUT this is nothing compared to the hundreds of hours so many people like my friend Chris have done getting treatment. So this run is for Chris and everyone that has needed treatment and support” he said of his plans.
As of this writing, 53 people have registered to run with them. Though they’ll be running in different locations all over Canada, they’ll be united by the knowledge that they are running in support of melanoma patients and survivors, people like Chris Isfeld, who four years ago, was diagnosed with late stage melanoma.
Chris was given lifesaving immunotherapy treatment just in time. The treatment was challenging but it proved to be effective. The cancer stopped growing and the side effects became more manageable over the next few months. By December 2018, just one year after his melanoma diagnosis, he was lacing up his running shoes again.
The results of his latest PET/CT scan, on November 2, 2019, show an almost complete metabolic response; he is well on the way to becoming NED (No Evidence of Disease).
After he recovered, Chris had been frequently running and practicing yoga to overcome the physical and emotional anguish he was feeling.
In an interview with Global News, he said:
“A friend of mine, Shawn Bjornsson from Winnipeg, posted a photo after he did a 5K run in -40, and for some reason, I just made a comment and said, ‘Hey, I’ll race you across the lake,’ just as a joke, But a week later, I thought about it, and thought, ‘You know what, this is an absolutely great idea.’
“It gives me something to focus on, and obviously with my diagnosis, I had gotten to know the people at Save Your Skin Foundation very well, and decided that I should do it as a fundraiser and raise money for them.”
True to their Viking roots, they didn’t back down from a challenge. On March 7, 2020, they ran about 30 km from Grand Beach, Manitoba to Gimli, Manitoba, raising almost $20,000 for Save Your Skin Foundation. Read more about last year’s race here.
THIS YEAR’S CHALLENGE
Last year’s race was a personal challenge for Chris and his friend Shawn, but since so many expressed an interest in joining the challenge in future years, Chris has decided to open the challenge up to the general public this year. Because of the pandemic, the event will take place virtually, allowing participants to run any distance they choose from any location in Canada and beyond.
To participate, runners have to pledge to run a certain number of kilometres. So far, 53 people have pledge to run a total of 748 km, or the equivalent of 25 crossings of Lake Winnipeg!
So what are you waiting for? Register now to complete A Viking’s Challenge!