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Willow Creek Wilderness Walk Run adapts for participants

Stasha Donahue

Cindy Brown of Southern Sportswear displays the hoodie for the seventh annual Willow Creek Wildernesss Walk run on Saturday, May 25.

The Willow Creek Wilderness Walk Run is adapting to better meet the needs of the people it serves.
Now in its seventh year, the event offers five- and 10-kilometre routes, as well as a new shorter 2.7-kilometre route designed for children aged six and under.
Absent this year from the walk run, which is set for Saturday, May 25, is the half marathon due to a steady decline in participation.
“We had to make that hard decision,” organizer Stasha Donahue said. “We don’t love it. I wish that we could have it but if we can’t, we can’t.”
Donahue said dropping the half marathon eases the burden on the event’s limited volunteer corps.
“What we did see was an increase in families,” Donahue said. “That tells us there is an increase in younger kids and that’s always good.”
The 2.7-kilometre Short Fort Route will give the youngest children a challenge that is within their ability.
Donahue said providing opportunities for young children and families is important.
“I think fitness is a life-long skill,” Donahue said. “If we can help young families set goals towards that end that’s a good thing.”
To that goal of involving young people in the walk run, organizers were pleased to learn Napi’s Playground elementary school and Piikani Nation Secondary School for the second year will both enter students.
As the name of the event indicates, people can choose to walk or run the five- and 10-kilometre routes, which start near the water treatment plant, cross the Mackenzie bridge, and wind through River Valley Wilderness Park.
The 10-kilometre route gets under way at 9 a.m. May 25, followed at 9:30 a.m. by the five-kilometre route.
The 2.7-kilometre Short Fort route starts at 9:45 a.m.
One hundred and 74 people had registered for the Willow Creek Wilderness Walk Run by last week.
Organizers are pleased the event continues to enjoy strong participation and support from Fort Macleod and the surrounding community.
“I think the thing that we offer, aside from the beautiful wilderness park, is an opportunity for a variety of levels to participate,” Donahue said. “You can walk, and that’s just as important in terms of fitness, it just takes longer.”
“If we can create that environment that no matter what your level you’re welcome and included, then people will come out.”
One of the goals of the Willow Creek Wilderness Walk Run is to raise money in support of community groups and projects.
Past recipients of donations from the event are the Fort Macleod Santa Claus Parade, M.A.E. Belles, Empress Theatre Society, Fort Macleod Playground Committee and Fort Macleod Community Initiatives Group.
This year proceeds will go toward the purchase of child skate trainers for the Fort Macleod and District Sports Centre.
Children learning to skate push the trainers around the ice to support themselves.
“One of our volunteers noted there aren’t enough for kids learning to skate,” Donahue said. “It’s not that we won’t support groups in the future, we just saw a need.”
As a tribute to the cause, the buffalo on the walk run T-shirt and hoodie is wearing skates.
Register on-line until Sunday, May 12 at www.raceroster.com. The fee for the five- and 10-kilometre is $30 and the Short Fort route is $20, which includes a T-shirt. There are additional fees for adult T-shirts and hoodies.
Walk run package pick-up is 5-8 p.m. Friday, May 24 at Fort Macleod Chiropractic, 522 25th St., Fort Macleod. Out-of-town participants can pick up their packages beginning at 8 a.m. May 25 at the race venue.
Volunteer co-ordinator Joella Bevan is still recruiting people to help on event day.
At least 30 people are needed to serve as race marshals to direct participants along the route, staff water stations and other jobs.
If you want to volunteer contact Joella Bevan at 403-393-7954.

Cindy Brown of Southern Sportswear displays the hoodie for the seventh annual Willow Creek Wildernesss Walk run on Saturday, May 25.

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