Whether it’s stepping or storming, one thing is for sure – the iconic West Trail staircases will take centre stage in two new fundraisers for local charity this fall.
One is a race for fun, the other a competitive run-ride-run, and both are slated for the second weekend of September.
On Sept. 12, Storm the Stairs, hosted by the United Way of Trail and District, is a race open to individuals, teams or families, regardless of fitness level. While showcasing the city’s unique staircases and rock walls along the route, the one-day race launches the organization’s annual campaign.
On Sept. 13, the Red Roofs Duathlon, co-hosted by the Rotary Club Waneta Trail Sunrise and the High Altitude Triathlon Club will launch a unique, possibly annual, competition starting with a seven-kilometre run at Gyro Park.
Trail council recently endorsed the Red Roofs Duathlon upon the condition that the city is secured against legal responsibility and harmless from any claims that might arise as a result of participation.
The idea for the competition began a year ago when the Downtown Business Group approached Carol Currie, a West Trail resident and athlete, about incorporating the staircases into a race that would introduce athletes from across the province and beyond to Trail.
“The person said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have a run using the stairs,” said Currie, an athlete who’s twice qualified for the Ironman Hawaii. “I was interested and started speaking with a fellow cyclist who is part of Rotary so it just all came together.”
Runners will head up to West Trail through a route of stairways, race past historic rock walls, then run back to Gyro for a changeover to bicycles. Then the 40km road cycling begins through East Trail, up to Highway 3 and along the Columbia River to Columbia Gardens road. The cyclists will pedal back to Gyro to culminate the duathlon in a four-kilometre run towards Sunningdale before doubling back to the finish line at the park.
“The stairs are going to add a unique and challenging factor, and the cycling route we are using is already popular because it’s so beautiful out there,” Currie added.
Sounds like a challenge, even for the locals who train to run distances.
Currie, the duathlon organizer, has been training with the High Altitude Triathlon Club since 2008.
From Rossland through Trail and out to Fruitvale, she and a group of about 20 athletes train for long distance endurance triathlons, which until now, require travel far outside the Greater Trail community.
The event is in the early planning stages, however volunteers and sponsorships are needed to make the duathlon a first class race.
“The downtown business association is very eager to help but we can always use more,” Currie said. “We’ll need people to help with organizing aid stations, the post race lunch, and help with the registration papers. There’s lots of things to do before hand and the day of the event.”
For information and to volunteers contact Currie at 231.1671 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the first year start up costs may factor into the fundraiser, any surplus will be donated to the Sanctuary Pre-Teen Centre and the Greater Trail Hospice Society.
That’s where the Rotary comes into play, says John Lake.
“We are starting from zero and may have to extend monies for service, equipment and things like that,” explained club President Lake, adding that the group is pursuing grant money to help cover costs.
“The fundraising will be primarily from the athlete’s registration fees, and we are hoping for 120 entrants, which will make the event self funding.”
The Rotary’s goal is to raise $2,000 as minimum for Sanctuary and the hospice society, he added.
The partners are currently building a website to get word out about the race, which is a duathlon because there isn’t a local body of water large enough to support an aquatic leg.
“We are hoping to be sanctioned by the Triathlon BC website,” Lake said. “If we are, the race will be on their calendar which is Canada and US-wide. So there’s a huge opportunity there to encompass a lot of athletes.”
Besides shedding a spotlight on Trail’s covered staircases and attracting new people to town, Lake noted the long term vision is to promote healthy, active lifestyles for all ages.
For information, Lake can be reached at 368.7494.
Meanwhile the Storm the Stairs event will bring attention to the annual United Way campaign.
“Money raised here stays here,”says Jodi LeSergent, the group’s president. “Proceeds will be going to the 2015 campaign fund to be invested in local programs and services that help hundreds of people every year in our communities.”
The foot race begins at the Colombo Piazza in the Gulch and directs participants up to West Trail via staircases on Pine Ave., Spokane Street and Lookout Street.
The day’s roster include prizes, raffles, live entertainment, children’s activities and a barbeque.
While the city’s part in the races is mainly to provide the staircase venue, public works will be sprucing up the aging staircases prior to an overall inspection before run dates.
The City of Trail has 63 sets of covered stairways, according to “A Guide to Historical Buildings and Places,” a publication released a few years ago.
According to the guide, if the stairs were stacked on top of each other, they would equate to 6,610 vertical feet, approximately two kilometres of stairway.