Volunteer Eileen Pinkington rings her bell

Great Lake Walk cancelled for 2013

Low registrations: Organizers hope to try it again next year to see if participation and sponsorship numbers bounce back

The 2013 Great Lake Walk and Ultra Marathon, set for Sept. 21, has been cancelled due to a lack of entries.

The 56-kilometre event around Cowichan Lake has been a fixture on the calendar in late September since 2002. It was an event that created great teamwork from the volunteers in communities around the lake to put it on.

“It was kind of looming,” Joan Hieta, chair of the Great Lake Walk Society, said of the cancellation. “It was one of those years. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.”

The GLW committee has been dealing with many issues and had to make a decision by Sept. 5 due to pending deadlines for arranging portable toilets, rest stops, food, prizes, buses, first aid and a host of other things.

Hieta said the committee looked very seriously at the budget and found there was a bottom line that couldn’t be reached.

“I’ve got to keep the safety part,” she said.

There were not enough registrations to cover even the basic costs of hosting this year’s event.

Registrations simply did not materialize, falling below 160 for the first time.

A relay event added this year was looked upon as something that might attract more people.

“We thought it was going to take off,” said Hieta. “We’re pretty disappointed. We thought that was going to be the answer.”

Participants have raised more than $700,000 for their favourite charities since the event started.

There was nearly 800 people registered in 2002 for the inaugural event. The total slipped marginally for a few years after that and finally stabilized around 350, before completely bottoming out.

Despite the cancellation, this doesn’t mean the GLW is dead.

“We’re definitely going to look at it for next year,” said Hieta.

If sponsorships and registrations bounce back, the event will make a return in 2014.

The Great Walk, a similar 63 km event from Gold River to Tahsis, has experienced the same problem with participation falling off in recent years.

The Great Walk was also not held in its usual time slot during June this year and was also cancelled in 2010. Organizers there are also hopeful of bringing it back for 2014.

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