Globe-trotting Anders Forselius has run on all seven continents and traveled thousands of miles by bicycle.
Forselius, 43, who calls himself the Biking Viking, is riding his bicycle across the United States with the goal of raising money for cancer research by running a marathon in every state. And he has an unusual travel companion along the way: the cremated remains of Alex Blackburn, a Coeur d’Alene boy who died at age 12. Blackburn’s final wish was to have his ashes scattered around the globe.
Although Forselius, of Sweden, never met Blackburn, who died Aug. 10, 2001, from a virus, he is happy to fulfill the boy’s final wish.
“I feel so honored,” he said, displaying a small wood box with wave-like inlays that holds Blackburn’s remains.
In 2008, he met Blackburn’s mother in a California hostel where he was staying and she was working. She told him about her son’s final wish and asked Forselius to spread his ashes around on his travels.
“We became very good friends,” he said. “It was like destiny. I was supposed to meet her that night.”
Since then, he’s spread ashes across the U.S., Europe and South America, and most recently in Coeur d’Alene.
Among many other places, Forselius has scattered Blackburn’s ashes on the “Rocky Steps” in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, in front of the White House and near the Lincoln Memorial, and in Everglades, Fla. His ashes also have taken a dip in both the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Most recently, they were left by Lake Coeur d’Alene near North Idaho College.
“When I find a nice place that attracts me, I scatter his ashes,” said Forselius, who writes for running publications in Sweden. “He’s always with me when we’re traveling. He’s really alive for me.”
One place Forselius wants to scatter some of the ashes: Wrigley Field in Chicago. “The boy, he has such good karma,” said Forselius, a baseball fan. “It might help the Cubs win the World Series.”
Last Sunday, Forselius brought the remains with him while he ran in Missoula. It was the first time he had carried the remains in a marathon.
“It was time even for him to run a marathon,” he said. “From now on, I will always run with his ashes.”
Forselius, who began his fourth U.S. tour in April, hopes to run a marathon in all 50 states by the end of next year.
“Alex, he gives me the reason to continue with my traveling,” he said. “And we have such a good time together.”