Participation may be down, but the fun of the event and personal challenge associated with walking 56 kilometre around Cowichan Lake remained in tact, during the 10th Annual Great Lake Walk, Saturday, September 17.
“Our numbers may have been a little lower, but the spirit was there,” Great Lake Walk chair Joan Hieta said, during the event’s closing ceremonies.
“This is about personal goals,” Cowichan Lake Recreation manager Linda Blatchford said. “You’ve got to tell everybody. It’s worth the walk.”
Over 300 volunteers helped out, and over 300 participants took part in this year’s event.
Each participant has the option of fund-raising money for a charity of their choice, in relation to their walk. This year’s total had just over $15,000 raised for various charities.
This year saw 62 participants come from Victoria’s Pearson College, which has students from several different countries.
Although not billed as a race, many participants of Cowichan Lake’s annual Great Lake Walk have taken a personal challenge of running the 56-kilometre route.
The record time was clocked in at the 2007 event, during which time Campbell River man Jason Welland ran the 56 kilometres in four hours, 35 minutes, and 28 seconds.
While this record remained untarnished during this year’s event, Saturday, September 17, some excellent times were clocked in.
First to cross the finishing line, at a time of 5:01:28, was 41-year-old Rodie Guild, from Errington.
The finish was somewhat bitter-sweet, as he was supposed to run the event with friend Brad Holmes, who was sent to the hospital two days previous.
As such, Guild dedicated his win to Holmes.
“It was hard; mentally tough,” he said, of the run. “I’m pretty exhausted. Excited, but exhausted.”
“I thought I would have to walk the last two kilometres. I was picking a telephone pole, running to it, and picking a telephone pole, and running to it.”
Eating energy bars he creates himself, Guild was able to keep his energy up.
After rest stop three (there are 12 along the route), Guild had left the pack of participants.
“I never saw anyone after that,” he said.
Coming in at second, at a time of 5:12:45, was Victoria runner Kyle Reid, 28.
Waiting for him at the finish line was girlfriend Erin Mowat, who proudly hugged him as soon as he’d finished the run.
“This is the longest run I’ve ever done,” Reid said, slightly winded after having finished the run.
Always into athletics, Reid said that he’s been running various distances three to four times per week in preparation for the Great Lake Walk.
A friend of Saanich police officer Steve Robinson, who is taking part in this year’s Tour de Rock, Reid’s run was used to help raise money for the effort. He managed to raise over $1,000 for the cancer fund-raiser.
Nanaimo resident Mike James came in just over two minutes after Reid, at a time of 5:14:59.
“I’m just getting into ultra-marathons, and thought this would be a good start,” he said, of his participation in this year’s Great Lake Walk. “I’m into torturing myself, I guess.”
James said that he may have finished a bit sooner, but instead chose to pace himself for the beginning of the run. Until sunrise, he kept himself behind the runner with the brightest light, for safety reasons.
As soon as sun broke over the horizon, he said that he sped up a bit too abruptly, running alone for about 10 kilometres.
After pacing himself down, he set his pace with fourth-pace finisher John Quested, who finished a minute behind of him, at 5:15:56.
Quested, a resident of Honeymoon Bay, finished this year’s run 17 minutes sooner than he did last year, during which time he’d placed fourth.
“It’s a great event,” he said. “Everybody’s cheering you on… Everybody should take part. It deserves a lot of support.”
This year’s event was a bit easier to run, he said, in part thanks to the light rain that greeted participants for the first couple hours.
“It was nice to have the rain, because it got rid of all the dust,” he said.
Although he said after the run that he was exhausted, he remained standing while enjoying refreshments volunteers had set up at the Upper Centennial Hall.
“If I sit down, I probably won’t be able to stand up,” he explained with a smile.
A mere five seconds behind Quested was Krista Kitson, who finished with a time of 5:16:01.
Kitson ran for a colleague of hers, Clive Smith, who is receiving cancer treatments.
“To be honest, that’s what carried me through the run,” she said.
“For all my low moments, I was thinking about his battle with chemo and radiation. It took me through. It gave me wings, so to speak.”
This was Kitson’s first time taking part in the Great Lake Walk.
“It was a really good experience,” she said.
“I was really impressed by it all, I didn’t really know what I was in for. The volunteers were absolutely amazing.”
Kitson raised about $1,000 for the BC Cancer Foundation.
10-year pin recipients
The following people received 10-year pins for having participated in the Great Lake Walk for all of its 10 years, thus far;
Debby Baker, Maureen Bulander, Helen Evans, Joan Henn, Brooke Hodson, Les Hudson, Gabor Horvath, Paul Jenkins, Gerrie Knott, and David Nash.
Oldest male to finish – Len MaCormack and James Henderson, at 75. Oldest female to finish – Lise Carlsen, 82. Youngest male to finish – Robin Brooks, 12. Youngest female to finish – Ellie Bay, at 16. Largest amount of pledges raised by an individual – Patrick Mulvey, for Our Lady of the Rosary. Largest amount of pledges raised by a team – Dave’s Dream Team and Girl Child Network tied, with $800 each.
– With notes by Don Bodger
For more pictures of this year’s Great Lake Walk, in colour, visit the Lake Cowichan Gazette’s Facebook page. Just search “Lake Cowichan Gazette” at www.facebook.com