Endurance athlete races for the health of Lake Winnipeg

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John Sawchuck in the Pinawa triathlon, Aug 2017

Winnipegger John Sawchuk is swimming, cycling and running his way to his 70th birthday to draw attention to both the health and fitness of people, and the health and fitness of Lake Winnipeg.

Sawchuk’s goal is to complete 777 kilometres of swimming, biking and running in just 28 days, beginning on July 26 and ending on August 21, his birthday. He is also using his challenge to raise funds for the Lake Winnipeg Foundation (LWF), an environmental charity that advocates for change and co-ordinates action to address the root causes of harmful algae blooms on Lake Winnipeg.

The Purejohn70 Challenge will consist of four-day segments each totaling 111 km, repeated seven times
as follows:
. Day 1: Swim 1 km
. Day 2: Cycle 100 km
. Day 3: Run 10 km
. Day 4: Rest

Sawchuk has been physically active his entire life. In the late 1980s he began running marathons and in 2005 he completed his first triathlon; he has since participated in approximately 40 triathlons, including the 2014 International Triathlon Union World Championships in Edmonton.

John cottages at Wanasing Beach on the east side of Lake Winnipeg. “My dad built the cabin that my wife and I now own. Our summers have been spent swimming, sailing, boating, water-skiing, fishing and just enjoying the beach. Our children, grandchildren, relatives and friends have also enjoyed cottage life there. However, the health and fitness of Lake Winnipeg has declined significantly over the years, and will continue to do so unless changes are made,” he says.

“In tackling my endurance challenge, I hope that others reflect on their own health and fitness and what  can be done to maintain and improve it. I also want to increase the awareness of the condition of our Lake Winnipeg, and what can be done to help its health and fitness.”

“John’s challenge is a fitting tribute to Lake Winnipeg,” says !lexis Kanu, LWF’s executive director. “Meaningful change requires sustained commitment, even when the challenges seem daunting. I’m encouraged to see a lake-lover making the connection between his personal actions and our collective responsibility for the health of this vibrant, living ecosystem.”

The Purejohn70 Challenge online fundraising campaign has launched and John’s goal is to raise $7,777 in donations. Supporters are encouraged to make a special 70th-birthday donation – for every $70 donation received, LWF will send John a birthday card. Online donations can be made through the Purejohn70 Challenge CanadaHelps page, http://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/35800.

The Purejohn70 Challenge will take place at various locations in Winnipeg and around Lake Winnipeg. More information is available on the Purejohn70 Challenge Facebook page – including updates on planned routes for supporters interested in swimming, cycling or running with John for all or part of a challenge segment.