“The Stroke Man” — new ambassador for the Göteborgsvarvet Half Marathon
He suffered a stroke at the age of 25, was paralyzed on one side of his body, and lost his ability to speak – but that didn’t stop Johan Sundén from running the Göteborgsvarvet Half Marathon the following year.
“It has always been important to challenge myself and find new goals,” says Sundén, who is now an ambassador for the running event.
It was during a football match in Oslo, where he lived and worked to save money for dream trips, that Johan Sundén suddenly collapsed in 2011. A blood clot in the carotid artery caused swelling in the brain, and it was unclear if Johan would even survive.
But he did – and the joy of life did not disappear even though he was affected by a stroke, paralysis, aphasia, and later epilepsy, with some symptoms still lingering daily. He has refused to let bitterness into his life.
"Shit happens. Now this is how it is, and it's important for me to fight for what I can influence. To make something good out of it. To step by step strive towards new goals. We all have things we struggle with, but it's amazing to achieve the goals we set," he says.
Running has always been a part of his family, and early on, he decided that he, along with his dad Bertil and stepdad Eigil, would run the Göteborgsvarvet Half Marathon the year after the stroke.
"I ran, walked, limped, ran a little more, and made it to the finish line," he says.
Since then, he has participated in the Lidingöloppet many times, run Ultravasan from Sälen to Mora, and last year, he completed both the Göteborgsvarvet Half Marathon and the Göteborgsvarvet Marathon. In May, he will once again be on the starting line outside Slottsskogsvallen, this time as an official ambassador.
"I'm very happy to have been asked to be an ambassador. I love inspiring people who say something is impossible, helping others achieve their goals. It's fun to make a difference and be a role model," says Johan, who over the years has also studied sports consultant at Bosön.
His personal goal for the race?
"I want to run under two hours for the first time! I train two to three times a week and run a lot with a weighted vest. When I take it off, it will feel easier!"