Participants won’t be alone during Saturday’s 56 kilometre jaunt around Cowichan Lake.
As previous years, businesses and organizations – mainly local – will be there to help you every few kilometres, with 12 rest stops.
Rest stops, headed by volunteers, will provide drinks, light foods, portable toilets, and encouragement.
Although the Youbou Bar and Grill is no longer hosting a rest stop at Mesachie Lake, local rock cover band The Radiators will still be there to perform throughout the day, making for a neat place to take a rest along the route.
The following is a run down on the 12 rest stops that will greet walkers/runners along the way.
• Rest stop one comes into view suddenly because, just 6.2 kilometres from the start, at the Maple Grove Campsite, it is still dark when the walkers and runners arrive. This rest stop is sponsored by the Footwear Centre and the Weaver family.
“It’s neat seeing all of the lights coming up,” organizer Joan Hieta said, of awaiting participants’ arrival.
• Rest stop two is at Marguerite Main, 12.9 kilometres into the trek. It’s hosted by Lake Cowichan Home Hardware, and offers refreshments and places to sit, if need be.
• Rest Stop three is hosted by the Cowichan Lake Baptist Church. The site is near the Heather Campsite. This rest stop has the reputation of being the loudest along the route, with many participants noting that they can hear the support long before they see it.
Participants must check in at this rest stop.
• Rest stop four is just 5.4 kilometres farther along the route, at the Shaw Creek Lookout, which is hosted by Lake Cowichan’s Cow Cafe – their second shot at hosting a rest stop.
By this time, the walkers and runners have started to make the turn at the head of the lake and heading eastward. The terrain here is flat.
• Rest stop five, at Picnic Islands Lookout, is the second location where participants can pick up items or leave them. This rest stop, which is sponsored by Gravelle Family and Friends, is close to the halfway point of the Great Lake Walk.
• Rest stop six is situated at the historic Caycuse Campsite. This is another noisy rest stop, with host Chris Thompson and Curves’ ladies giving their rambunctious support.
• Rest stop seven is at The Red Gate Pullout, and his hosted by the Cowichan Valley Dragon Divas.
Participants can choose to take a rest here before making the daunting 100-metre grade climb. Walkers and runners must check in at this rest stop.
• Rest stop eight provides a great view of the lake, with participants about two-thirds of the way, and at the steepest part, of the climb. Pearson College is having their first go at rest stop host duties with the site, this year.
• Rest stop nine is located at an area known as Chicken Joe’s. Runners and walkers are likely going to see a bear at rest stop nine — but they need not worry, it will be the Root Bear, since this rest stop is sponsored by A&W.
By this time, Honeymoon Bay is not far away and pavement will be under foot. With the pavement will come increased traffic, so participants are urged to be careful.
• Rest stop 10 is hosted by the Island Savings Credit Union, and is located at the old Honeymoon Bay gas station. Penny the Owl, the Island Savings mascot, will be offering greetings and a chance for a photo opportunity.
This is the final rest stop, before the finish line, where participants must check in.
• Rest Stop 11 is being hosted by Heidi and Friends, and will feature local classic rock cover band The Radiators.
This stop is at the Mesachie Lake welcome sign at the east end of town. By this time, the end is getting close, but if you do sit down for a quick breather, don’t stay too long, as you might find it too hard to get up again.
• Rest stop 12 is the final break. This stop is hosted by Beaver Lake Resort, and is located at the entrance to the resort.
This is the last one before the finish line, which is just two kilometres — and perhaps an eternity — away.
The finish line is in front of Centennial Hall, but participants will hear the greeters before they get over the last rise along South Shore Road.
Runners must ring a bell upon completion of the race, after which time they can finally enjoy a well-deserved rest, complete with refreshments, massages, entertainment, and, if necessary, medical treatment.
With notes from the Gazette archives