River Runner: How Scout Lindgren, Expeditionary Kayak Maker, Balances a Brain Tumor, His Mental Health, and Tough Water Treatment

Kayaker Scott Lindgren stands looking over the Indus River. Lindgren’s athletic and wellness journey is the main focus of the documentary “The River Runner,” and he would be the keynote speaker at The Longevity Challenge occasion.
Mike Dawson / Picture Courtesy

Scott Lindgren didn’t got down to make a documentary about himself.

Though the worldwide kayak maker is not any stranger to being in entrance of and behind the digital camera, having made a number of kayaking films and profitable an Emmy for Cinematography, this time round he needed to make a broader film concerning the historical past of the game.

Like how “Dogtown and Z-Boys” took over the ski recreation in Southern California, “The River Runner” was initially supposed to inform the story of kayaking throughout many athletes and characters. Inside years of the enhancing course of, director Rush Sturges centered and made the narration about Lindgren and his journey with a mind tumor.



Lindgren was identified with a pituitary adenoma in February 2015. The dimensions of a small baseball behind his head, the tumor wraps round his proper carotid artery and compresses his optic nerves. The boat has battled rapids everywhere in the world, together with the Yarlung Tsangpo River in Tibet, however is now heading into uncharted territory.

The analysis and subsequent mind surgical procedure that lasted for hours was made earlier than work started on the documentary, and he was reluctant to be within the highlight. Opening up was not pure to him. Lindgren stated he initially needed to get out into the water and eventually get the Indus off his guidelines with out cameras.



A change of coronary heart occurred when Lindgren was in South America with Brad Lowden, founding father of the Denver-based nonprofit First Descents.. The group supplies alternatives for outside adventures—comparable to kayaking, mountaineering, and browsing—for younger individuals affected by most cancers and different well being circumstances.

Lindgren skilled an outpouring of help as soon as his analysis was revealed, and he finally got here to the conclusion that maybe there was a larger message price sharing.

“River Runner” was final evening’s closing movie on the fortieth anniversary of the BRIC Movie Competition final September. It gained awards within the Greatest Journey, Greatest Cinematography, and Selection Director classes on the pageant.

The movie facilities on Lindgren’s 20-year quest to be the primary individual to kayak the 4 rivers that originate from Tibet’s sacred Mount Kailash in each main course, together with the Tsangpo and Indus.

One other main theme featured within the film is the hard-core mentality frequent in excessive sports activities. Lindgren stated kayak makers usually do not present weak point as a result of it might jeopardize the security of an expedition. This creates a detrimental self-isolation sample during which athletes use excessive adrenaline-inducing sports activities for a run after which flip to coping mechanisms comparable to alcohol when they’re out of the water.

“It creates a habits, and if you cannot compartmentalize it, you drag that habits into all different points of your life,” Lindgren stated.

Luden advised Lindgren that not many males apply for First Descendant applications, and Lindgren instantly understood that it was out of worry of weak point.

“Males, when they’re identified, often do not know how one can search assist,” Lindgren stated. “They often isolate. Genetically, I believe, it is seen as a weak point, and males do not wish to be seen as weak.”

Scott Lindgren is photographed on the Royal Gorge on the North Fork of the American River. The California native has kayaked all over the world, navigating a few of the hardest waters and mind tumors unexpectedly.
Eric Parker / Picture Courtesy

Discovering an outlet

The outside additionally supplied a boon to Lindgren. He didn’t have a clean childhood, and he usually received into fights rising up in Southern California. Outlook solely started to enhance after his mom and brother moved him to Rocklin, close to Sacramento. The neighbors launched younger Lindgren to rafting, and he discovered himself having a brand new ardour.

Sports activities naturally gave approach to kayaking, and one of many solely issues he revered as a baby, Lindgren stated, was the river and realizing how fantastic nature is.

“Possibly it is as a result of I’ve misplaced so many individuals near me,” Lindgren stated. “Possibly it was as a result of if you find yourself on a really highly effective river, that energy is so highly effective. … I didn’t notice that there was nothing aside from … stepping into bother.”

Rowing can be an arrow in Lindgren’s quiver, which has been serving to him deal with a mind tumor. Earlier than touchdown within the Indus River in 2017, Lindgren was advised that the tumor was rising once more. He needed to determine if the remedy might wait a yr as a result of he knew it will take a variety of effort to get to the best place each bodily and mentally to do every day kayaking and extra earlier than the expedition.

He selected the river. Lindgren stated the medical doctors have been satisfied that operating within the laborious river would overburden his physique, irritate the tumor and make it develop sooner.

“Because it seems, I did the alternative,” Lindgren stated. “It truly appeared to sluggish it down a bit.”

Lindgren then took half in a examine that included monitoring blood work, cortisol ranges, coronary heart fee, and extra. He was operating in a tough river, and the outcomes confirmed that his biometrics have been solely barely elevated.

For the reason that movie’s launch, Lindgren nonetheless kayaks and travels as a lot as doable, and he and his girlfriend have been tending to Shopper River Ranch, a tenting and wedding ceremony venue with leisure alternatives in Northern California.

Lindgren can be engaged on his memoirs with Thayer Walker, a screenwriter for “The River Runner” and a reporter for Exterior Journal.

It has been almost eight years since Lindgren’s analysis, and though the tumor’s progress has slowed to snail’s tempo, he is taking a look at one other surgical procedure in six months to scale back its dimension once more. Therapies for individuals naturally differ by situation, however Lindgren’s principal recommendation for different sufferers is to be open.

“Weak spot is energy,” stated Lindgren.

Scott Lindgren kayak throughout an expedition on the Yarlung Tsangpo River, one of many 4 Nice Rivers on the sacred Mount Kailash in Tibet. Lindgren is the one individual to have accomplished the descent of the 4.
Andrew Shepherd / Picture courtesy