WELCOME TO THE GREAT LAKE WALK to be held on
the third Saturday of September
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Published: September 20, 2010 9:00 PM
NEWS STORIES of 2010 as printed in the Gazette, the Citizen and the News Leader Pictorial
Walkers conquer Cowichan Lake
Thank You to all the Reporters for their never-ending support.
Paldi-area runner Thomas Marrs, 19, crosses the finish line first during this year's Great Lake Walk, Saturday, September 18.
By Tyler Clarke - Lake Cowichan Gazette
Published: September 20, 2010 9:00 PM
After running for four hours, 37 minutes, and 24 seconds,
Paldi-area runner Thomas Marrs, 19, became the first to cross the finish line during this year’s Great Lake Walk, Saturday, September 18.
“I didn’t walk any of it,” he said of his run, although he added that he did have to wait for water at one point.
His final time this year was over an hour less than last year’s time of 5:59:23, which was still enough to put him in ninth place during last year’s walk.
“I trained a lot this year,” he said. “Last year I was addicted to a video game.”
In second place was Seb Falk – one of many participants to arrive from Pearson College in Victoria. Falk crossed the finish line 21 seconds after Marrs, after having trailed him for quite a few kilometres.
Representing 21 countries, the students and faculty (Falk, 29, is a teacher) added a multicultural mix to the event.
This was Falk’s second time competing, with the UK-born teacher walking last year’s event.
“It’s actually easier to run it,” he said. “What a race. I had a great time.”
But, running the Great Lake Walk has its disadvantages.
“My only regret is that I couldn’t stop to chat with all the guys on the rest stops,” he said.
Both Marrs and Falk agreed that the chilly and wet conditions throughout the morning made it a lot easier to run the 56 kilometre journey around Cowichan Lake.
The walkers, who began arriving early in the afternoon, tended to disagree, though the sun broke out during the final leg of their walk, making for a more pleasant of finish.
Third to cross the finish line was Honeymoon Bay man John Quested, 64, who crossed the finish line at a time of 5:32:36.
Like previous years, the Great Lake Walk began at the Youbou Community Hall just before 5 a.m. with a breakfast and the singing of O’Canada, led by Jeff Abbott.
At 5 a.m. runners and walkers were off, guided by head lamps to the first of 12 check stops around Cowichan Lake.
Participants continued around the 56 kilometre trip around the lake, ending up in Lake Cowichan between four-and-a-half and almost 15 hours later.
As runners and walkers crossed the finish line, organizers breathed sighs of relief. Fears that heavy rain would dampen participants’ spirits lifted along with the rain, as the afternoon’s sun brightened. Further stress, attributed to a washed-out bridge west of Youbou, was cleared up thanks to what organizer Joan Hieta attributed to quick work by Timber West, who made it passable to participants.
With the bridge remaining uncrossable to traffic, support vehicles had to go back and forth on either side of it.
It wasn’t just organizers who breathed a sigh of relief. The look on participants’ faces, ranging from crying to easy-going, spoke for themselves.
The day’s events, complete with a number of local-area musicians performing in front of the Centennial Hall, organized by local music teacher Mary Egan, lasted throughout the day.
At 8 p.m., participants and volunteers hobbled into Centennial Hall for the closing ceremonies.
During the closing ceremonies, the events’ many volunteers were credited with making the day a success.
“The real congratulations should go to the people who aren’t walking, but are putting it together,”
Mayor Ross Forrest said.
With each participant raising money for a charity of their choice, it was announced that $40,856.00 has been raised during this year’s event, resulting in a Great Lake Walk total of
$669,402.00 over the course of the past nine years.
In all, 363 people participated in this year’s Great Lake Walk, compared to 388 during last year’s event. Although significantly more people had registered for last year’s event than this year, a higher than usual turnout of registered participants this year helped fill out the event.
Next year’s 10th Annual Great Lake Walk will take place Saturday, September 17, 2011.
Speeders make for a dangerous walk
In the midst of such community togetherness and good spirit, it was surprising to have seen so many vehicles zoom past participants of this year’s Great Lake Walk, Saturday, September 18
With signs posted along the entire length of participants’ path around Cowichan Lake, hundreds of people visible walking along the road, and some volunteers even waving signs and arms at drivers, some speeders simply didn’t slow down.
One red truck, in particular, could be seen speeding through Honeymoon Bay at a speed of at least 80 km/hr. A dangerous speed during any time, in this 50 km/hr zone, made even more dangerous by the fact that there were hundreds of people walking down the road.
This kind of stupidity can, sadly, be expected. It’s always a few bad apples that ruin the bunch. Fortunately, the day wasn’t spoiled by any collisions with pedestrians. Not even poor weather early on could spoil participants’ walk around Cowichan Lake.
Although most of those who ran this year’s Great Lake Walk didn’t benefit from the afternoon’s sunlit weather, those who walked it had a pleasant sunny stroll during the last leg of the walk.
As was made clear during the Great Lake Walk’s closing ceremonies at Centennial Hall, it was the hard work of a board of directors and a large crew of volunteers that made this year’s Great Lake Walk the success it was.
Lake Days, Heritage Days, Honeymoon Bay Days, Youbou Regatta – no matter the community event, a handful of dedicated volunteers helped make it possible. Be sure to thank these community, and to scold the morons (such as the speeders) who get in their way.
Lexi Bainas, The Citizen
Published: Friday, September 17, 2010
Walkers heading for the Lake
The practice runs are over; this is where the rubber meets the road. Rubber running and walking shoes will be hitting the gravel in the dark at 5 a.m. precisely this Saturday morning, Sept. 18, as participants start the ninth annual Great Lake Walk from the Youbou Community Hall.
The 56-kilometre event may sound daunting but there are plenty of people up to the challenge every year.
Why do they do it?
Some run for the sheer competitiveness of it all, speeding around the lakehead and whipping through Honeymoon Bay and Mesachie Lake to arrive in Lake Cowichan when sleepyheads are just stretching and thinking about a first cup of coffee.
Other individuals and groups walk and run to raise funds for various charities and organizations through pledges.
Participants range widely in age and come from near and far. They really appreciate a cheering section along the road, so if you have some time, why not drive out to Cowichan Lake and spend some time saluting a great group of people.
They may even motivate you to start training for next year.
Joan Henn’s ninth, and final? Great Lake Walk
Long-time Great Lake Walker Joan Henn, of Honeymoon Bay, with the dog she walks every day, an American dingo named Bonita.
photo By Tyler Clarke Tyler Clarke - Lake Cowichan Gazette
Published: September 13, 2010 9:00 PM
Updated: September 13, 2010 11:45 PM
After having participated in all eight Great Lake Walks thus far, Honeymoon Bay resident Joan Henn has decided that this year’s ninth annual walk will likely be her last.
“I’m not going to kill myself doing this thing. As of today, I’m saying this is the last time,” she said.
But, as she’s been told time and time again, with next year’s Great Lake Walk being the 10th, annual, it would make for a nice milestone.
It all depends on how her sore back and arthritis hold up, she said.
At 74, Henn is also one of the oldest women to participate in this year’s 56 kilometre Great Lake Walk.
“It’s not my aim in life,” she said, of being named the oldest female participant.
On why she’s participated in every Great Lake Walk since its inception, she said, “I know that I can do it, and why not? I do walk a lot. I walk a lot when I don’t have to. If I’m going around Honeymoon Bay, I walk rather than drive.”
Daily walks with her American dingo Bonita help keep her in great walking shape year-round.
Since the first Great Lake Walk, Henn said it’s stayed pretty well the same, though the number of participants is a bit lower this year.
“I think a lot of people didn’t know what they were doing,” she said, of the first few walks, adding that it’s more difficult to walk 56 kilometres than many people had initially thought. “I thought, hey, here’s something to do.”
At the time of the first Great Lake Walk, Henn said that she was new to Honeymoon Bay, and wanted to meet some people. And meet some people she did, and continues to do.
Throughout the walk, she said that she prefers to keep her own pace, walking past many people, and having many people walk past her. As such, she gets to say her hellos to more people than if she travelled with one group of people.
In addition to keeping at one’s own pace, Henn has learned some other tips over the course of the past eight Great Lake Walks that may come in handy to participants in this year’s event.
Another tip she has is to bring extra pairs of socks. Depending on the moisture of the road, and on whether or not potholes have become filled with water, socks may become soaked early on in the race, causing foot trouble later on.
“Socks are just as important as shoes, so I always put socks in my pockets,” she said.
Another tip is to not bring more stuff than one needs. With refreshments and light snacks available at all 12 of the rest stops, participants shouldn’t have to bring much. Items can be dropped off at the starting point, with volunteers bringing them to the rest stop of the participant’s choice.
“There’s no need to be carrying all this stuff,” she concluded.
Having finished the Great Lake Walk every one of the previous eight years, Henn said that her goal for this year’s event is to once more finish. One of her incentives to complete is that she wants to put a ninth picture of herself ringing the end-of-race bell in a picture frame she has at home, which has nine spots in it for photos.
“And then I can quit,” she said.
Twisted Sisters using Great Lake Walk to raise more awareness about mental illness
The Twisted Sisters — Janet McDonald, left, and Susan Ecklin — have raised almost $1,000 toward the Mood Disorders Association of B.C. One fundraiser was held at Mr. Mike’s restaurant, with a 50-50 draw winner selected by Ecklin’s nephew, Benjamin.
courtesy Susan Ecklin
By Krista Siefken - Cowichan News Leader Pictorial
Published: September 16, 2010 2:00 PM
Susan Ecklin wants to alter Cowichan’s mindset about mental illness.
That’s why the Cowichan resident, along with sister Janet McDonald, decided to raise cash for the non-profit Mood Disorders Association of B.C. during the Great Lake Walk.
But the Twisted Sisters — their Great Lake team name — have found it difficult to fundraise for mental illness support because of an unhelpful stigma.
“When people see my pledge sheet and the brochure from MDA, they seem uncomfortable, and will make comments like, ‘Mood disorders? Doesn’t everyone have those?” Ecklin said. “Some people have asked me what mood disorders are, and when I tell them, they seem almost embarrassed.”
Instead of being discouraged, though, Ecklin believes this attitude can be addressed with education and understanding.
“Mood disorders are a type of mental illness. The term ‘mental illness’ suggests that it’s not the same as a physical illness, but it is,” Ecklin explained. “It is an illness of an organ — the brain. It has nothing to do with being weak or lacking willpower.”
And according to the Cowichan Valley chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in four Cowichanians will have to deal with mental illness at some point.
Ecklin’s no stranger to mental illness, either.
“Both Jan and I have mood disorders in our family — depression, anxiety, panic, obsessive-compulsive disorder -— and Jan’s niece took her own life almost a year ago,” she said.
“Her family is still trying to cope with the aftermath of that tragedy. We did some searching for a provincial charity that supported people with mood disorders and their families, and where we could designate monies raised to stay on Vancouver Island. MDA fit the bill.”
As it turns out, in the Great Lake Walk’s eight-year history, there is no record for any money being raised for any charity that helps with mental health.
That’s why Ecklin and McDonald are raising awareness as well as cash for the MDA during Sept. 18’s Great Lake Walk.
To learn more about mood disorders, visit www.mdabc.net. That’s also where you can make an online donation toward the Twisted Sister’s fundraising effort. Click “donate now” twice, and be sure to choose “Twisted Sisters” under the “fund/designation” heading before Sept. 20, or call 250-748-9195 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Walk a physical challenge for participants
By Tyler Clarke - Lake Cowichan Gazette
Published: September 13, 2010 9:00 PM
Now in its ninth year, the Great Lake Walk has earned quite the reputation for providing a good, though physically difficult, time for its participants.
Although the goal for many is to run or walk the whole length of the track, its 56 kilometre length can be a bit much for many, so safety vehicles will be on duty throughout the day.
“There are going to be vans going around the length the whole time picking up anyone who can’t make it,” organizer Joan Hieta said.
There will also be medical personnel at each of the 12 rest stops, and St. John’s Ambulance at the Cowichan Lake Recreation Centre finish line.
Taking the mentality of not fixing something that isn’t broken, this year’s Great Lake Walk will be the same as previous years, complete with a 5 a.m. start in Youbou to the singing of O’ Canada. Cowichan Lake Recreation Manager Linda Blatchford will then send walkers off with a “go!”
Bus service beforehand will transport participants from Lake Cowichan to Youbou, from about 3 a.m. to 3:45 a.m. in time for a
“Taking off at 5 a.m. that’s quite something. It’s pretty neat,” Hieta said.
This early in the morning, it’s still dark outside, with lights that walkers carry lighting their way to the first few rest stops.
With the Great Lake Walk taking some runners just over four hours, finishing in the morning, the majority of participants are walkers, ending between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Some slower participants don’t finish until 8 p.m., making for an impressive 13 hours of walking.
This year’s Great Lake Walk will have 350 people participating, with 66 people, from 21 different countries, coming from Victoria’s Pearson College, to walk around the lake and to volunteer in different capacities.
“They’re so eager,” Hieta said, of the multicultural participants. The Appollos bus picks participants up from Victoria the night before the walk, with students sleeping on the Youbou Hall floor, waking up early in the morning for the walk, treating the day as a personal challenge.
The walk will end at the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena, with the ringing of a ceremonial bell. Walkers can then pick up items they left at the starting point that they didn’t want to walk with, at the Upper Centennial Hall, while the Lower Centennial Hall will have foot soaking and various massages available to participants. The St. John’s Ambulance will also be on hand to help participants deal with blisters and other ailments they may have developed over their 56 kilometre journey.
Walkers can also take part in a pasta and salad dinner at the Upper Youbou Hall the evening before the walk, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., with proceeds going to support the Cowichan Valley Association for Community Living.
Entertainment will be provided throughout the day at the Centennial Hall front parking lot, due to ongoing construction at the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena.
With around 440 people registering for last year’s Great Lake Walk, this year’s 350 is a significant dip in participation.
“Everything is down this year,” Hieta said, adding that she’s unsure as to why registration for the Great Lake Walk in particular is down. “We’re really going to push it next year, as it’ll be the 10th year.”
Rest stops help participants along the way
Last year’s 36 porta potties, about to be delivered to the rest stops along Cowichan Lake, with driver Greg Grzybowski.
By Tyler Clarke - Lake Cowichan Gazette
Published: September 13, 2010 9:00 PM
Updated: September 13, 2010 11:44 PM
For the around 350 people taking part in this year’s Great Lake Walk, rest and encouragement will be available every few kilometres, with 12 local businesses and organizations hosting rest stops along the way.
Rest stops, manned by local area volunteers, will provide drinks, light foods, portable toilets, and encouragement.
One of the more interesting rest stops this year will be the Youbou Bar and Grill rest stop at the Mesachie Lake welcoming sign.
“We give it that extra oomph,” the bar’s owner Anik Gaudreau said.
Although Great Lake Walk organizers aren’t allowing them to serve beer, Gaudreau said their stop will have its own unique characteristics. For one, Youbou rock band The Radiators will be performing for racers throughout the day. Gaudreau said that Youbou Bar and Grill’s Paul Forshaw will also be entertaining walkers with various costumes he plans on putting on throughout the day.
It’s all about cheering people on, Gaudreau said, and re-energizing them for the final stretch of competition.
“I think we make it fun,” she said. “We just make a whole lotta’ hoopla.”
The following is a run down on the 12 rest stops that will greet walkers/runners along the way.
• The first rest stop 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, which offers refreshments and places to sit, if need be.
• The Cowichan Lake Baptist Church hosts rest stop number three, which 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.
• Just 5.4 kilometres farther along the route is rest stop four at the Shaw Creek Lookout, which is hosted by Lake Cowichan’s Cow Cafe – their first shot at hosting a rest stop. The Cow Cafe will be hosting reflexology and aromatherapy to help participants remain limber for the rest of their trek. 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 Scandinavian Skol, is close to the halfway point of the Great Lake Walk.
• Caycuse Campsite is the spot for rest stop six. This is another noisy rest stop, with host Chris Thompson and Curves giving rambunctious support.
• The Red Gate Pullout is where the Cowichan Valley Dragon Divas host rest stop seven. 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. The Cowichan Seniors’ Care Foundation hosts this site.
• Runners and walkers are likely going to see a bear at rest stop nine at Chicken Joe’s — 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 careful.
• Island Savings Credit Union will greet participants at rest stop 10 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.
• The Youbou Bar & Grill provides the support at rest stop 11, 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, you might find it too hard to get up again.
• Beaver Lake Resort hosts rest stop 12, which is 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.
Last call for Great Lake Walk registrations
Former Lake Cowichan resident Thomas Marrs takes
part in last year’s Great Lake Walk, which he placed ninth in.
With notes by the News Leader Pictorial By Tyler Clarke - Lake Cowichan Gazette Published: August
16, 2010 9:00 PM
If you’re thinking about entering the Great Lake Walk, you’d
better act fast. The ninth annual 56-kilometre event around Cowichan Lake takes
place Saturday, Sept. 18. The final registration is on now until Sept. 1. The
cost is $60 and details can be found at www.greatlakewalk.com.
“We get a lot of last-minute registrations,” Cowichan Lake Recreation manager Linda Blatchford
said. Runners and walkers who have been wavering on entering will certainly need
the full month ahead to do some training for the grueling event.
Joan Hieta is back as event chairperson and has an army of volunteers at the ready to handle
everything from shuttle bus service to rest stops. Since the first race nine
years ago, $628,000 has been raised for various charities, with participants
choosing which charity they’d like to support.
Rob Fontaine of Campbell River
was the 2009 winner, finishing in 4:40:16, with Jeff Hunt of Victoria close
behind in 4:47:55.
Our entertainment is always a HIT!!