by Henner Thies
The story of Joachim Norvik and his son Isak will move you to tears. But as Isak’s father says: “People feeling sorry for Isak isn’t going to help him, but research just might.” Here, Joachim talks about his hopes and fears and gives insight into his experiences as a Wings for Life World Run participant.
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Joachim at the 2017 Wings for Life World Run in Stavanger, Norway. © Mats Grimsæth for Wings for Life World Run
Joachim, as a parent affected by SCI and a two-time Wings for Life World Run participant – do you feel a kind of solidarity or sense of community with the other people taking part? Yes, very much so. As a family directly struck by SCI, I think it’s normal to feel a sense of loneliness about it all – Isak’s injury has had a tremendous impact on our lives, in a way that many people cannot comprehend. But being part of this wonderful project gives meaning and hope, and running together with so many people, for the cause that has become the most important one for us, is incredibly moving. For a very brief period of time, I feel that this is the most important cause for all the people involved, and not only for us. We love the Wings for Life World Run.
Can you tell us how you felt as you approached the start line? I felt immensely proud of what my family has achieved. I was many times moved to tears by all the people showing their support. And I felt so at home with what I have come to call our “extended family” – Wings for Life.
Joachim and his son Isak at home in Stavanger, Norway. © William Jobling for Wings for Life World Run
Isak’s injury has had a tremendous impact on our lives. But being part of this wonderful project gives meaning and hope! – Joachim Norvik
What about the Catcher Car? As it approached you, did it motivate you to carry on running? By the time the car approached me, my legs had felt like lead for at least 10 kilometres. I have never been so happy to see a vehicle in my entire life. Although I ended up running 550 metres farther in 2017 than the year before.
Looking towards next year’s run: have you started training yet for 6 May 2018? I followed up last year’s race with a 52km ultra run the week after, and have been suffering from related injuries since then. I feel quite recovered now, and will start training soon. I’ve never followed a very strict regime, just gone running whenever I have felt like it. Maybe it’s time for a more planned approach.
What would you say to those people who haven't taken part in a Wings for Life World Run yet, but might consider it in the future? “Team Joachim Runs for Isak” had 19 participants in 2017. Out of those 19 people, every single one will run in 2018 – if this is not a testament to what a great race this is, I don’t know. The world’s greatest race, no less!
Joachim during his first Wings for Life World Run in 2016. © Mats Grimsæth for Wings for Life World Run
I can’t rid the world of SCI, and I can’t make Isak’s legs work again, but I can run with a hope that there is a cure out there somewhere, at some point. – Joachim Norvik
Have you thought about opening up „Team Joachim Runs for Isak“ to the public so people in Austria could also join your efforts? I’m incredibly grateful and proud that people will run again in 2018. If people want to join, they’re more than welcome!
What is the greatest benefit the Wings for Life World Run has brought to you and your family? A sense of meaning and purpose, mostly. I’m running for everyone with SCI, and I feel that everyone is also running for Isak. As a parent, you’d do anything to take all darkness away, and provide happiness and light to your kids. I can’t rid the world of SCI, and I can’t make Isak’s legs work again, but I can run with a hope that there is a cure out there somewhere, at some point.
With the experiences from 2016 & 2017 – what do you expect from next year’s run and what are your goals for 2018? I have no expectations, apart from having a good time. Maybe I’ll run with Isak in a stroller, maybe I’ll walk with my grandma. I’ll leave the worry about distance and time to someone else next year.