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Islander completes improbable sleepless marathon for charity and late sister.

Quadra’s Ryan Rassmussen runs from Duncan to Campbell River to finish improbable Coco Run for charity
Ryan Rasmussen completed the 200-plus kilometre Coco Run on Aug. 5, with donations to it aimed at fighting cancer via integrative treatements. Photo by Edward Hitchins/Campbell River Mirror

In a soaked grey New Balance t-shirt and dark shorts, Ryan Rasmussen ran on. He was behind schedule, but determined to keep going and reach his goal.

Through stops and starts and under a hot sun, he had been running for hours, without sleep.

By the time the Coco Run — first conceived by the Quadra Island resident in 2021 after his sister lost her battle with cancer — finished late on Aug. 5. the skies had darkened and just a handful of family and loved ones were there to cheer him on as he arrived in Campbell River from Duncan at just after 10 p.m.

READ MORE: Quadra Island man to run from Duncan to Campbell River to raise alternative cancer care funds

“I’m so incredibly proud,” said Rachel Jensen, Ryan’s wife. As she held back tears, she said, “I’m incredibly proud of Ryan for setting this goal. It’s something that seems so outrageous and he has been putting in the effort. Training for it all year and testing out different nutrition strategies.”

Ryan’s sister, Nicole, passed away on New Year’s Day in 2021. It gave him the motivation to start the Coco Run. In 2021, he ran 160K. Last year, his first attempt at the Duncan to Campbell River journey was cut short, beaten by heat and fatigue.

This year, starting on Aug. 4 at just after 3:30 a.m., Rasmussen ran a 200-plus kilometre journey ending at Robert Ostler Park. Battling fatigue and the summertime heat, Ryan admitted that even when he wanted to give up, he continued going at his wife’s urging — albeit feeling spiteful.

“I wanted to prove to her I could finish,” joked Rasmussen. He then said,“Rachel reminded me ‘why am I doing this?’ The reason I go so long and the heat, when I think of it, I want to get the same pain level my sister was in.”

Along with a salute to Nicole’s courage, the run also serves as a fundraiser to help those facing similar challenges.

The Coco Run collects donations that can be made via Paypal or E-transfer. In addition, an online auction has been set up, which ends on Aug. 10 at 9 p.m. Proceeds from the donations and auction will benefit the Integrated Health Clinic in White Rock, a cancer clinic specialising in holistic care.

“They deal with integrative therapies,” said Rasmussen. “It’s not to say don’t do chemo or radiation. If you’re fighting for your life, let’s try to give everybody the best chance they have to live.”

Just a few weeks ago, Rasmussen helped pay half the bills of residents at the White Rock clinic.

“We paid half of everyone’s bill that day,” he said. “It’s just the motivation. I’d rather put myself through 40 plus hours of pain, just to put a smile on someone else’s face one day. That morning, they may be counting the days they don’t see their child or loved ones anymore. That’s what it is all about.”

He also says the memory of his sister, who was affectionately known as “Coco”, is a big part of why this journey continues.

“I think she’d be so incredibly proud,” said Rasmussen. “She always said she wished she had the money to pay for integrative treatments. I came to her house and said ‘I have this idea’, and at the time I couldn’t even run seven kilometres. Within five months, I ran 160 kilometres. It was the memory of her that got me through not being a runner, and getting through 160 kilometres — was just her.”

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Edward Hitchins

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