Trent Ernst, Editor
It took the fastest teams four hours and forty minutes to complete the inaugural School District 59 Gwillim Adventure Race, and by the time the day was done, 12 of the 16 three-person teams had hit every checkpoint and made it across the finish line.
The race, held Saturday, May 23, saw students in grades six to eight from around the south Peace canoe, mountain bike and hike to a series of 13 locations scattered about the Pat O’Reilly Outdoor/Environmental Studies Centre at Gwillim Lake. In order to reduce congestion, as well as because there were a limited number of canoes available, the race began in two directions. One group started canoing, the other started biking, trading paddles for peddles (or vice versa) after the first hour and a half or so of the race.
The race finished with all teams ditching these devices and hiking to the last few destinations.
Brad Booker, head of School District 59’s Outdoor/Environmental program says while it was called a race, it wasn’t designed to be too a competition. “We wanted the students to have fun, to build confidence, to get outdoors and to try something different.”
Indeed, for many of the students, this was their first time in a canoe. The students arrived on Friday night, and after receiving maps and instructions for the race, were given time to strategize or to get out onto the water to practice paddling.
“Every team had success in at least one of the areas,” says Booker, “whether it was the paddling portion, the biking portion, or the trekking portion.”
A trio of female students from Tumbler Ridge Secondary: Hudson Zatwarniski, McKenna Robertson and Kammy Chalifoux tied for first place with a team of boys from Devereaux Elementary in Arras.
The two teams were neck in neck for much of the race. Indeed, says Booker, in keeping with the spirit of the event as more adventure and less race, the two teams chose to cross the finish line together. When they reached the finish line, all six students lined up just before the line, counted to three, then jumped over as a group.
The 50 students who participated came from seven different schools, including 15 students from Tumbler Ridge. By the time the race was over, they had covered nearly 20 km. Indeed, some teams that got lost covered a few more kilometres than that by the time the race was done. “The students demonstrated grit and tenacity as they overcame mental and physical challenges,” says Booker.
The event was a huge success, says Booker. Already, students are demanding a second annual Gwillim Adventure Race for 2016, as well as an Adventure race for the older students.