An Abbotsford man who is continuing to fight his second battle with cancer is holding his fourth annual event to raise money for the Save Your Skin Foundation.
Chris Isfeld, a late-stage melanoma survivor, is holding a Viking’s Challenge on March 4 and 5, at which time he and his childhood friend Shawn Bjornsson of Winnipeg will run across frozen Lake Winnipeg.
Isfeld will run as far as he is able, while Bjornsson is aiming to complete 65 kilometres.
This is the first time they are able to do the event in person since 2020 due to pandemic-related restrictions that saw the event go viral in 2021 and 2022.
The event invites participants to run any distance they choose from any location in Canada and beyond.
To participate, runners have to pledge a certain number of kilometres. A running tally is kept to see how many times they can “cross” Lake Winnipeg in total.
Last year, they were able to cross the lake 28 times.
The event began in 2020, when Isfeld and Bjornsson ran 30 kilometres across Lake Winnipeg and raised almost $20,000 for melanoma patients.
Isfeld was diagnosed with advanced melanoma in 2017 and was given life-saving immunotherapy treatment.
The cancer stopped growing, and the side effects became more manageable over the next few months.
After he recovered, Isfeld practised yoga and ran to overcome the physical and emotional anguish he was feeling.
Bjornsson posted a photo after he did a five-kilometre run in -40 degrees C weather, and Isfeld joked that he would race him across the lake.
A week later, Isfeld thought it was a great idea and decided to do it as a fundraiser for the Save Your Skin Foundation.
On March 7, 2020, Bjornsson and Isfeld ran about 30 kilometres across Lake Winnipeg – Canada’s sixth largest lake – from Grand Beach to Gimli, Manitoba.
In 2022, life threw Isfeld another curve ball. A large mass was found on his right adrenal gland, forcing him to stop training to focus on his treatment.
Isfeld did not have the same success with immunotherapy this time. He has since travelled to medical centres in Toronto and Chicago to explore new treatment options and is currently waiting for alternative treatments or clinical trials to become available.
“I want everyone to know that my spirits are still high and I’m far from throwing in the towel,” he posted on his fundraising page.
Funds raised from A Viking’s Challenge help melanoma patients meet their basic needs while they undergo treatment. The event has raised $50,000 since its inception.
To participate or make a donation, visit saveyourskin.ca and click on the link for A Viking’s Challenge 2023.