by Heather Ramsay-Get your running shoes ready. The “Totem to Totem” marathon is shaping up to become a big event.
Last year five runners arrived on the islands during Skidegate Days and ran from the totem poles at the Haida Heritage Centre in Skidegate to St. Mary’s Spring and back again.
The runners, including Vancouver-based David Seymour, started talking to people in Skidegate and hatched a plan to keep the event going.
Mr. Seymour said the Skidegate Band Council has authorized the creation of a non-profit society that will promote and organize the newly-created annual race.
The society will promote physical fitness and healthy lifestyles on the islands and hopes that any proceeds from the Totem to Totem Race will support facilities and events for Haida youth.
Mr. Seymour said the marathon could become a major draw to bring people to the islands as well.
He and one of the other runners, Vince Hemingson, said that marathons in Paris, New York, London and smaller places attract thousands of people each year.
Mr. Seymour said the Paris marathon started with 100 people and now more than 35,000 take part.
Known as destination marathons, sites like Iceland, Prague and more are attractive to a growing crowd of enthusiasts.
Mr. Hemingson said the Canadian Death Race, an extreme race in Grande Cache, Alberta, generates more income for local stores than the entire Christmas shopping season.
An official marathon is 42.4 kilometres long, the exact distance, give or take a few steps, between Second Beach and St. Mary’s Spring and back to Second Beach. People will be able to do a half marathon too and there may be shorter races too.
The organizers hope to eventually offer a 100-km ultra-marathon from Masset to Skidegate.
The Running Room, a retail company that specializes in running equipment, is one of the sponsors of the event.
Mr. Seymour said the company officially measures the route, provide a time clock, gives discounts on merchandise and helps with promotion.
This year’s race will take place on July 21. More details will be coming along with a website.
Andy Wilson is the local contact.
Organizers said accommodations for future runners may be challenge and they are looking for input from the community on how to handle the potential influx. They are hoping 100 people will run in the race this summer.
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