Marty Lund was born Oct. 7, 1961, in Radville, Sask., the third child of Marie, a teacher from Humboldt, and Elmer, a farmer. Debbie, Wayne and Marty grew up on the family farm near tiny Lake Alma, 10 miles north of the U.S. border; their father’s Norwegian parents had landed there during the homestead rush when, lured by free land, hundreds of thousands settled across the West.
Elmer put his sons to work, pulling calves, fixing fences, even renting them out as labourers to nearby farms. Still, the brothers, two years apart, found time for mischief; once, Marie hopped onto her garden tractor only to discover they’d stolen its engine to build a dune buggy.
Marty met Vivian Field, his future wife, on the first day of Grade 1 at Lake Alma Elementary — a class of 24 that dwindled to five as Saskatchewan’s oil jobs dried up and families left for Alberta. They forged a bond over their matching black tin lunch boxes. By Grade 8, Vivian, a studious girl who sat behind him in class, was nursing a “serious crush.” Their first date wasn’t until June 8, 1978, when they were finishing Grade 11. Vivian was walking down Main Street when Marty, a jock with flowing, sandy-brown hockey hair, pulled up in his white Chevy pickup on his way to a bonfire. “I jumped in beside him,” she says, “and never looked back.”
By then Marie and Elmer had moved into town to run the local hotel. Marty and his brother were running the Lund farm — 1,500 acres at its peak. After graduating from Gladmar Regional High School, Marty went to work on drilling rigs; he started as a roughneck but within a year had risen to the rank of driller. For eight years, Vivian, who’d moved to Regina to study accounting, waited “very patiently” for him join her. (Meanwhile, she visited “every rig lease in Saskatchewan,” driving through snowstorms and black ice to Shaunavan, Stoughton, or Kerrobert to be with him on weekends.)
“Well,” Marty said, when it came time to propose, “I s’pose we should get married.” He wasn’t the “mushy type,” says Vivian, who recalls the time, years ago, when the vet had to put down Riley, their golden retriever. “It was October, and a pouring, cold rain was coming down. Marty went out, and, with the lights of the pickup, dug a grave for my dog.” She didn’t need flowers, she says. “I needed a guy who could do that.” They were married in October 1984. (“You know farmers — had to be after harvest.”)
In 1987, he moved to Regina to be with her, and commuted to the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology in Moose Jaw, where he studied electrical engineering technology. He buckled down and did his homework — at age 26 in a class full of 18-year-olds — and excelled. But he didn’t much like the big city, or its rules. Late at night, he’d pull up to a red light, look both ways, and drive right through; one-way streets drove him crazy, and he thought he should be able to park anywhere he wanted, for free.
In 1990, he started work at the IPSCO steel plant in Regina. Soon, he joined the management group. (Finally, he told hisboss Jim Clarke, he was earning as much as his wife.) In 1992, Michael was born, and then Aaron, six years later.
Eight years ago, the pair developed passions that, somehow, drew them even closer. Marty, who loved watching the Eco-Challenge on TV, started training for adventure races: 18- to 36-hour challenges that include high-alpine hiking, mountain biking, swimming, kayaking. All summer they’d get up at 5 a.m., and hop on their bikes; Vivian would ride along as Marty — who won the first race he entered — tore through Regina’s White Butte trails. Vivian, meanwhile, had become a fan of the band Matchbox 20; he accompanied her to 11 shows across North America, including Las Vegas, Vancouver, Seattle, Phoenix, leaving the kids behind. “There wasn’t a day I didn’t say to him I love you,” Vivian recalls.
This summer, the concert fell on the same weekend as Race the Rockies, a noted backcountry race. Normally, Vivian was at the finish line, waiting for Marty — wearing a headlamp — to come barrelling down a mountain on a bike at 2 a.m. But her show was scheduled for Minot, N.D., a four-hour drive, so this time, they parted ways.
For months, July 19 had been circled on the family calendar. Indeed, “it was a beautiful night,” says Vivian; she’d brought her best friend, Rose, and Aaron, 10, who sang along to every song. Still, “I remember looking around, and thinking: it just isn’t the same without him. I’d rather have Marty with me.” As she was leaving the concert, Vivian got word her husband had collapsed on Mount Seven, near Golden B.C., three hours into the race; an autopsy determined he’d suffered a massive heart attack.