The Upstream Challenge event runs for the entire month of May in a number of different locations. (Submitted)

The Upstream Challenge event runs for the entire month of May in a number of different locations. (Submitted)

Abbotsford’s Run For Water transforms into Upstream Challenge for 2021

Throughout the month of May participants can take on a number of different activities in the Valley

When the COVID-19 pandemic threw a curveball into the plans for the Run For Water fundraising event in 2020, organizers picked themselves up, cleaned themselves off and quickly put together the successful Alone Together Run last May.

With the pandemic still lingering, Run For Water has transformed again for 2021 – with a brand new format and concept known as the Upstream Challenge.

The Upstream Challenge: presented by Run for Water and Envision Financial from Run for Water on Vimeo.

Starting on May 1 and running all month, the Upstream Challenge gives participants access to a number of different competitive or non-competitive outdoor activities. A one-time registration fee gives users the chance to complete the challenges as many times as they like. All funds raised go towards helping building clean water projects in some of the most remote and marginalized areas of Ethiopia.

Anyone interested in participating can sign up for the event online right now at

The challenges take place in scenic trails and parks across the Fraser Valley, including one challenge at the Sea Wall in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. One unique part of the event is that every challenge completed will see $35 donated to help the community of Hawo in Ethiopia gain access to clean water for life.

Users will also be entered into a draw to win a $50 gift card to use anywhere at Abbotsford’s Highstreet Shopping Centre.

Organizers Peg Peters and Ray Sawatsky said the Upstream Challenge should be a fun and unique way to raise money and allow users the chance to experience some of the great outdoors in their backyard.

“The challenge is how do you create a virtual event that hasn’t been done a million times,” Peters said. “So we sat down with our sponsors and we really tried to create something more local. It’s a great opportunity to get out there and try out some of our local areas.”

Challenges can include everything from runs, hikes, walks, cycling and family-friendly events. Those who want to be more competitive can use the Strava app to time and track their progress and compare results to other users.

Another interesting aspect to the Upstream Challenge is that organizers have created a school program where teachers can participate and sign up their class to challenge other classes. Sawatsky said response to that program has been great, noting that businesses also have the ability to challenge each other.

“These teachers are getting excited about challenging other schools to get classrooms active,” he said. “We’re getting buy-in there and from different businesses wanting to challenge each other. It’s all for a great cause and just the idea of getting outside is really the only thing right now that we know for sure is a good idea. We will be doing it safely with social distancing and following all the guidelines too.”

The pair also pointed out that there will be a number of door prizes for those who register early and there will also be daily prizes for all those who participate.

Peters and Sawatsky also pointed out that they are hoping that 2022 is the year things can finally return to normal for their event. The 2022 Run For Water traditional race is scheduled for May 30, 2022.

“We’re really hopeful that we get good vaccinations and by the time May rolls around in 2022 we can come together as a community and celebrate,” Peters said. “We could finally be together in a big event and I think people are missing that. I can’t wait for that vibe of being on the start line with 3,000 or 4,000 people all for the same cause. It’ll also be our 15th year so we’re really banking on that being a big celebration.”

For more on the event, visit

RELATED: Abbotsford’s Run For Water morphs into Alone Together Run

abbotsfordFraser Valleyrunning

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


The Upstream Challenge event runs for the entire month of May in a number of different locations. (Submitted)

Just Posted

Red dot shows location where fisherman was rescued by boater on Friday, May 7, 2021. Other fisher still missing presumed drowned after boat swamped on Fraser River near Vedder/Sumas confluence. Rescued man swam to shore after boat sank, while friend is still classified as missing as of May 10. (City of Chilliwack map)
Fisherman still missing after boat flipped on the Fraser River

One man made it out, other still missing, after anchor got snagged in the Fraser near Chilliwack

Corina Rochon has been working the front lines of the pandemic in the intensive care unit at Abbotsford Regional Hospital. She is also an instructor in the nursing program at University of the Fraser Valley.
Pandemic the most challenging of Abbotsford nurse’s 16-year career

Corina Rochon works front lines at Abbotsford Regional Hospital

Joan Septembre went for a weekend hike at Lindeman Lake, parking next to a vehicle that had two windows smashed in. (submitted photo)
Thieves active at Lindeman Lake and other parking spots along Chilliwack Lake Road

The hiking community is lamenting an uptick in car theft and vandalism as the weather gets nicer

Dario Lopez comes to the Cascades from Madrid, Spain where he played in very competitive junior leagues. (Dan Kinvig/UFV Athletics)
UFV Cascades sign Spanish basketball talent

High-scoring forward Dario Lopez joins team for 2021-22 season

Coho smolts. (Tanis Grower photo)
OPINION: A giant, invisible problem for Fraser salmon and how to fix it

‘Successful examples of salmon-friendly flood control can already be found throughout the Lower Mainland’

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in B.C.

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

RCMP officers search around rows of luggage carts as screens block off an area of the sidewalk after a shooting outside the international departures terminal at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Police say gang conflict in Metro Vancouver may be behind shooting death at airport

Police said this generation of gangsters is taking things to new level and have no regard for community safety

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read