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Willow Creek Wilderness Walk Run supports F.P. Walshe school

Students from F.P. Walshe school took part in the 2021 Willow Creek Wilderness Walk Run.

Like the runners and walkers who participate, the Willow Creek Wilderness Walk Run keeps moving forward.

With public health measures in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 preventing large gatherings, the Fort Macleod event was staged virtually.

Mathias Rippin runs through River Valley Wilderness Park.

Forty-nine people took part in the virtual event. 

“We’re happy that we had people sign up,” race director Kathleen Van Herk said. “Our goal was to keep the Wilderness walk/run going as well as promoting people getting outside and being active. So we were really happy about the numbers.”

The 2020 version of the five- and 10-kilometre walk and run was cancelled by the pandemic.

This year, organizers gave people the chance to complete their walk or run from May 29 to June 8 and send a video or photo of their app showing they completed it.

Participants in the virtual event were from Fort Macleod, Lethbridge and other parts of Alberta.

Since it was established in 2013, 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, and child skate trainers for the Fort Macleod and District Sports Centre.

Proceeds from this year’s event will go to the outdoor activity space being developed at F.P. Walshe school.

F.P. Walshe school principal Chad Jensen supported Van Herk’s suggestion that since the school was receiving a donation, the students could take part.

Last week students and staff from F.P. Walshe school walked to River Valley Wilderness Park.

The Grade 6-12 students had the choice of running five kilometres or walking the 2.5-kilometre route.

“It was a beautiful day for it except it got hot in the afternoon,” Van Herk said. “The park offered some shade, and the students were pretty good sports about walking and running.”

The F.P. Walshe students collected $4,100 in sponsorship to add to the $755 raised from race participants.

With public health measures being eased in Alberta as the number of daily COVID-19 cases and people in hospital declines, organizers are hopeful the 2022 Willow Creek Wilderness Walk Run can return to its live format.

“Next year we hope to run the event in person but we might offer a virtual component to allow people in other cities to join in our event,” Van Herk said.

The organizing committee includes Van Herk, Denise Joel, Joella Bevan, Chris Adamiak, Brendan Grant and Stasha Donahue.

To get involved, call Kathleen Van Herk at 403-634-0115 or find the Willow Creek Wilderness Walk Run on Facebook.