Community support great for race

  • Jul. 4, 2007 4:00 p.m.

It took 18-months to organize last week’s Raid the North Extreme Race planned for the Prince Rupert to Smithers area and only 18 days to re-route to the islands after extreme flood and snow conditions forced organizers to change course.Even with the short notice, Andrew Merilees of the Haida Gwaii Tourism Association said there was phenomenal support from all communities, especially Skidegate.The Haida Heritage Centre became the headquarters for 150 adventure race enthusiasts as 23 teams of four traversed the islands over four straight days of biking, trekking and paddling.Mr. Merilees said the community support was so great and the racers so impressed with the islands, that the only thing he wished was different, was the amount of time available to let islanders know what was happening so more could get involved.From the Haida Heritage Centre’s point of view, everything went well.Because of changes to the race-course midway through the event, Mr. Alsop said there were more athletes around the centre than he expected. But he would do it all again. In fact organizers said they are considering coming back again in 2010 and Mr. Alsop will be ready for them. And racers were overwhelmed by the generosity of the community. Not only did Skidegate greet them with a welcoming ceremony including dancers and respected speakers, but they provided a farewell salmon barbeque too. Individual families got involved. Reports on Raid the North related web sites state that Team Sole, who took the lead in the final Haida Gwaii stages of the race, were adopted by Jags Brown and his family. Mr. Merilees also noted that Mount Moresby Adventure Camp sponsored one of the checkpoints and offered chai and other nourishments to exhausted racers. From a tourism point of view, Mr. Merilees thinks the big benefit will come when highlights of the race are aired on Global TV, Wings Over Canada and the sports networks in the fall. Mr. Merilees says he talked to several racers who say they will be back to explore places they ran past during the grueling race. “They left with a wonderful feeling about the islands,” he said. The race wrapped up on Saturday in Prince Rupert with a 10-kilometre portage to the Work Channel.

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