GENEVA – It’s not unusual for a nonprofit to host a 5K fundraiser.
But the second annual Big Heart 5K is offering a transatlantic walk and run – a single race in two places at the same time in St. Charles and in Norway – with synchronized chip timing.
Both races will benefit the Kristoffer Larsen Big Heart Memorial Foundation, dedicated to prevent sudden cardiac death in youth, founder Tormod Larsen of Geneva said.
“This will be your opportunity to compete with someone from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean,” Larsen said. “We believe that this is the first virtual transatlantic 5K race.”
Larsen and his wife, Gry, co-founded the Kristoffer Larsen Big Heart Memorial Foundation in 2017 in memory of his late son, Kristoffer, who died from an undetected heart condition.
Larsen said he got the idea to run the race in the U.S. and Norway because his son grew up in both places.
“Kristoffer was born and also passed away in Harstad, but he had lived in Geneva since 2005,” Larsen said. “So the race symbolizes the two most important cities in his life.”
Kristoffer Larsen died at age 22 in 2016 while visiting his grandparents in Norway. He was a cross country and long-distance track runner at Geneva High School and Waubonsee Community College.
“We have friends in Norway in the running community and we thought this was a unique way of putting it together, that it would draw attention and it would be something that people would want to be a part of,” Tormod Larsen said.
The local race will be held at 9 a.m. Aug. 18 at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, 37W700 Dean St., St. Charles Township.
The Norway race will begin at 4 p.m. at Folkeparken in Harstad.
A 2K course was added to the LeRoy Oakes event for youth under age 14.
The cost is $35 for the 5K and $20 for the 2K.
Sign up online through the charity’s website, www.kristofferbigheart.org.
Those who sign up before Aug. 1 are guaranteed a race T-shirt and Kristoffer socks – bright red socks with the Norwegian flag on them like the ones Kristoffer Larsen wore to his cross country meets for good luck.
“We raised $15,000 last year and we would like to beat that,” Tormod Larsen said. “We had 220 people participate last year. We were happy with that. Our hope this year that having two locations, if we have 300 participants here and 100 to 150 overseas, we will be very happy.”
Mary Agnes Zellmer, president of Geneva-based Chicago Race Management, the company that will be timing both races, said she has never seen anything like it.
“In the history of Innovative Timing Services, which is the timing company that produces our system, I do not believe there has ever been a transatlantic race where the race took place at the same time and was timed together,” Zellmer said.
Her company will send an employee and a set of equipment to Norway, synchronizing the two systems for exactly the same timing of both races.
There will be one overall male and one overall female runner either in St. Charles or Norway, Zellmer said.
Age division awards will be given separately in each country, she said.
“We are thrilled to be chosen to do this challenge,” Zellmer said. “It’s really such an exciting event – not only because of the charity, but Tormod is so driven to make this an amazing event and he’s done such a great job.”
Proceeds from the race will help fund a recurring cardiac screening program at Geneva High School, funding of cardiac screenings at other schools and colleges, increased awareness of sudden cardiac deaths in youth including statewide/global awareness programs, and the support of large-scale sudden cardiac death prevention programs, including specific research, the release stated.
On Feb. 1, 1,488 Geneva High School students received a free cardiac screening as a result of funds provided by the Kristoffer Larsen Big Heart Memorial Foundation.
The screening detected seven students with abnormal electrocardiogram readings. An electrocardiogram or EKG measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat.
Those interested in donating or sponsorship can contact email@example.com or visit the donation website at www.kristofferbigheart.org.
Donations also may be made to the foundation through the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley by visiting go.cffrv.org/Kristoffer.