Just over 300 runners and walkers set off in the pre-dawn dark for the 2012 Great Lake Walk on Saturday, Sept. 15.
And though no-one broke the record time of Campbell River man Jason Welland, in 2007 who ran the 56 kilometres in four hours, 35 minutes, and 28 seconds, this year’s winner Mike Watson is pretty pleased with his time of four hours, 52 minutes, and 26 seconds.
“There are some things everyone should try once,” said Watson. “I’m not sure this is one of them,” he joked as he waited for the students and other participants from Pearson College to cross the finish line.
Watson is an economics teacher at the college and says this is his first year participating. He says he wasn’t going to come, but was asked to drive the student transport van and decided he didn’t want to sit around all day waiting while the students and other faculty were participating. Which means, yes, you guessed it, he did not train for the event.
“I’ve never run a marathon, this was by far the longest I’ve ever run,” said Watson.
The first walker to cross the finish line was Nancy Zegarchuk.
Zegarchuk says this was her third year participating and each year she has tried to beat her previous time. The last time she participated, she beat her original time by only seconds, but she was proud to say that this year, she beat it by a whole three minutes.
“It’s really fun,” said Zegarchuk. “I look forward to it each year.”
There were many volunteers that made this year’s event possible, from the Old Age Pensioners who prepared breakfast in the morning for the participants, the volunteers who set up the Youbou Hall for the morning start, and those who set up Centennial Hall and parking lot for the finish line, to the many organizations manning the rest stops along the routes and volunteers like Rich Elliott from the local Lions Club who spent his day following the last of the walkers around Cowichan Lake.
The Lions Club will be presented with this year’s Perpetual Trophy, a large print of one of Michaela Davidson’s works, sometime in early November.
The print will also include small plaques of all of the winners over the past 11 years.
The St. John Ambulance service was also on hand in the lower Centennial Hall, offering help for everything from blisters to ankle wraps.
“We have a degree in ankle wraps,” joked attendant Nathan Lebine.
Head paramedic Addie Clark says her team has been working hard to bump up their level of training since June of this year.
In all, the event raised $27,148 in pledges this year.
“That might change a little bit,” said Joan Hieta, one of the main organizers.
Hieta said the closing ceremony on the day of the event went well.
“There weren’t a lot of people, but there never is,” she said.
Lake Cowichan mayor, Ross Forrest, was in attendance and gave a speech before awards and prizes were handed out.
The winners of the Honeymoon Bay Lodge and Retreat Spa Package, as well as the two night stay at Boutique Waterfront Lodge will be announced at the next Great Lake Walk general meeting which is set to take place on Oct. 16.
“We will then contact the winners whatever way we can,” said Hieta, whether that be by phone or through email.