Following up on the success of its inaugural season, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Williams Lake is forging ahead with its second Backwoods TRY-athlon.
Billed as a fun, family event, the Backwoods TRY-athlon, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 12 this year, is the spiritual successor to the long-running Tour de Cariboo, which came to an end in 2018 after 30 years of riding.
Based in and around the Gavin Lake Forest Education Centre, the Backwoods TRY-Athlon includes elements of foot racing, mountain biking and kayaking.
The bike trail portion of the event stretches 11 kilometres, while a seven-kilometre run will encompass one leg of the race. The kayak course on Gavin Lake, meanwhile, will see paddlers make their way roughly five kilometres across the lake.
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, BBBSWL executive director Angela Kadar, who came up with the idea of the Backwoods TRY-Athlon last year, says precautions will be taken and the event will be hosted strictly outdoors.
“We were a little bit nervous about going ahead with it, but talking with Mike Tudor [Gavin Lake camp manager and program director] we worked out where, because it’s outdoors, we can do it safely,” Kadar says. “We’re just happy we can be one of the few organizations trying to do something during these times, and I think it will give people something to look forward to.”
An accessible extension to the boardwalk portion of the running trail has recently been completed, allowing people of all mobility levels to participate if they’d like.
“This year the one thing that’s changed is we’ll do a maximum of six people per team — last year it was sort of unlimited,” Kadar says. “We’re just asking people to choose their team wisely with people they have already been in contact with, and kind of encouraging people to do the kayaking and canoeing portion individually.
“Also, we’re going to make sure spectators are practising their social distancing, and, unfortunately, we won’t be able to have a dinner inside this year.” However, the Rotary Club of Williams Lake will be running a barbecue on site from noon until 4 p.m. the day of the event.
Registration for the event is $50, and participants are asked to fundraise a minimum of $50 in pledges as well.
While individuals registering for the Backwoods TRY-Athlon may take part in a timed, competitive event, groups will mostly be in it for the fun and the experience, Kadar notes.
“Last year we had 67 participants and it went really well for a first-time event,” she says.
“We had lots of families, and some fire crews out there that were super competitive with one another, so that was really cool.
“People just loved the backwoods element of it. I think it was a new type of challenge for people, and it really pays homage to our Cariboo lifestyle. It’s challenging, but also a really good time.
“We’re encouraging people to challenge other teams, or individuals, and we’ll send out those challenges for people to participate.” Prizes will be awarded to the top fundraisers.
Anyone registering for the event must be 12 years or older to participate.
Funds raised from the event will go directly towards BBBSWL’s online Game On and Go Girls programs.
“We’ve basically had to postpone all our in-school mentoring programs, so in order to offer the kids something in the fall we’re going to keep providing those young kids [with] mentors, but just online for now, and that’s taken some time and effort to coordinate,” says Kadar.
Tudor, meanwhile, adds that participants, and anyone visiting Gavin Lake Forest Education Centre this summer, will be excited to see the upgrades to the boardwalk.
“It is a completely wheelchair accessible trail we added an extension to, built for the Cariboo Regional District and finished about seven years ago,” he says.
“We’ve just recently added another 450 feet to it, which starts from the forest rec site, and this will save the runners a lot of hardship this year.
“This trail is one of our most popular things, so thanks to the CRD for helping to get that finished up.”
Registration for the 2020 Backwoods TRY-Athlon is available online through Canada Helps at www.canadahelps.org, or by calling 250-398-8391 for more information. A Facebook page — 2nd Annual Backwoods TRY-Athlon — has also been created.