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Registration strong for Great Lake Walk
By Julie McManus - Lake Cowichan Gazette
Published: August 10, 2009 9:00 PM
Name a charity, and chances are good participants in the annual Great Lake Walk have helped them out in the last eight years.
Many local charities will receive a boost after walkers complete the 56 kilometre walk on Sept. 19.
Chair of the Great Lake Walk Society, Joan Hieta, said registration is pretty good this year.
“We have over 300 people registered so far.”
A lot of people wait until the last minute to register, but this year Hieta is impressed to see a high number of people already signed up.
A lot of participants in the walk come from out of town. Hieta recalls one group of six who were here from Ontario last year, and Pearson College in Victoria is aiming to send 100 people to walk this time around.
Last year, 366 people took part in the walk, a large contributor to many charities.
Participants raise money for the charity of their choice. Since 2002, the society has raised $630,000.
Past local charities include Cowichan Cat Rescue, and Cowichan Community Kitchens, Land Trust Society, Family Life Association, Senior Care Foundation, Sportplex and Cowichan Tribes, to name a few.
Volunteers are also needed to work at the 12 rest stops along the way and to cheer on walkers throughout the course.
“It doesn’t matter what age or gender, we really need volunteers,” Hieta said.
“It would be really nice to have more people cheering on the last few walkers. They are the ones that deserve it the most.”
New to this year’s walk is the live coverage the Sport Cowichan website plans on.
Can’t make it out to watch friends and family in action? Visit www.sportcowichan.com to see streaming video of walkers crossing the finishing line throughout the day of the walk.
The Sport Cowichan website was created last year by local people who have an interest in community sports, said Gary Carleton, the site’s publisher.
The Great Lake Walk Society is happy to have them on board this year.
The official deadline for walk registration is Sept. 1. Walkers take off at 5 a.m. from the Youbou Community Hall on Sept. 19.
The walk can be completed in as little as four hours but can take as long as 14. Jason Wellard was the first to cross the line last year at a time of 4 hours and 37 minutes.
“We really want to stress that walkers make it a personal goal,” Hieta said. “It doesn’t have to last 56k, it can be as long as a person wants to make it.”
Reflexologists, chair masseuses and foot soakers will be waiting at the finish line.
Survival tips for walk day from past participants include bringing several pairs of socks, wearing a hat in any weather and having a small flashlight for the early morning start.
To volunteer for the Great Lake Walk call 250-749-6742 or visit www.greatlakewalk.com.
Volunteer, Carol-Ann Magrin, left, and Joan Heita. chair of the Great Lake Walk Society at last year’s event.
Bonnie Hayward Photo