Jessica Lindstrom ran in the 2017 Reggae Marathon event in Negril, Jamaica after raising more than $1,000 to raise awareness for men’s health issues (Matthew Allen / The Northern View)

MVP of the Week: Running internationally for a cause

Jessica Lindstrom combines her two passions to raise men’s health awareness

Running hasn’t always been Jessica Lindstrom’s passion.

The Northern Health Authority employee said she has always preferred the camaraderie of team sports, and the feeling of winning and losing with your teammates.

“You’ve got to hang out with your friends and you’ve got to have fun doing that,” she said. “I was always a social kid so I liked being in that environment and being around people.”

However, after being introduced to the running in 2012, Lindstrom has caught the bug and has since combined it with another passion to help raise money and awareness for a cause that is close to her heart.

“I love to travel and I love to run,” she said. “So to combine those two things is pretty amazing.”

Growing up in Terrace, Lindstrom said she was introduced to soccer at an early age and continued to play until she graduated from high school. She moved to Prince Rupert in 2010, which is where her journey with running began.

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Lindstrom, who was looking for ways to stay active, said a friend recommended that she give the annual Salmon Run a try so she signed up.

“There wasn’t any women’s or coed soccer available at that time so I thought it would be good to try something new,” she said.

Lindstrom signed up for the 2012 event the day before the race. She completed the five-kilometre course in 26 minutes.

“It was a hilly run,” she said. “I just remember feeling that it was really hard.”

While the race was a challenge, Lindstrom said she felt good enough afterward and she continued to pursue running in Prince Rupert, rapidly becoming integrated in the city’s vibrant running community.

“Running in Prince Rupert has made me love running in general just because of the running community that there is here,” she said. “You can always find a running buddy here even if you don’t know each other very well, and that was a big thing that made me love running.”

In 2016, Lindstrom had an opportunity to use her new hobby to put a spotlight on an issue that was near to her heart. She said that she has been affected by men’s mental and physical health issues in her family and was looking for ways to contribute to the cause. While doing research online, she saw that Movember — the annual men’s health awareness campaign — was a platform that helped highlight the issues she cared about most.

“I’d heard about the campaign and was looking for ways that women can get involved,” she said. “I feel like men’s health definitely needs to be emphasized and people need to know that there are issues out there.”

Lindstrom set a goal to raise $1,000 in 2016, minus the mustache of course, and said that if she reached her goal, she would allow one of her donors to select an international location where she would participate in a long-distance running event.

She was able to exceed that goal through a social media campaign and a word of mouth effort in the community. Out of 10 international options, one of her sponsors chose the 2017 Reggae Run in Negril for her to participate in. Lindstrom booked her ticket, trained thoroughly and on Dec. 2, completed the half-marathon in 02:19.00.

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“It was a really neat experience,” she said. “And there were so many local runners there to go along with the runners who had travelled there to do it.”

Lindstrom said she plans to continue fundraising and running to support men’s health issues.

She said that raising awareness for male and female health helps show how members of either gender can support each other, no matter what the issue is.

“It’s important to show unity with everybody,” she said.

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