This week’s Trail Blazers feature really does illustrate that this region is the stuff of legend.
The story of Reza Binab is riveting, engrossing, and yet another example of the benevolence that came before us.
Sarah Benson-Lord, manager of the Trail Museum and Archives, tells the story from 46 years ago of Reza and his Great International Rezarace.
In March 1975, a tremendous feat was achieved when Crown Point Hotel manager and Trail Smoke Eater executive member, Reza Binab, embarked upon the Great International Rezarace, which saw him tackle a 125-mile run from Spokane to Trail.
The marathon run was organized as a fundraiser for the Trail Smoke Eater Scholarship Fund, which supported players in their studies.
Reza set a target of $10,000 and asked all residents to donate just one dollar to meet the goal.
The club’s precarious financial position at the time inspired the hotelier and athlete to launch the campaign.
As a trial run, Reza ran from Castlegar to Trail in an effort to show the community he was up to the challenge.
The run took him two hours and 10 minutes and generated plenty of excitement.
He left for Spokane on March 17 and began the run back the following day.
He was followed by Smoke Eater president, Jim Reid, in a motor home.
They made their first stop in Deer Park (north of Spokane) the first evening, 10 miles past Colville the second evening, and Northport the third evening.
Running in winter-like conditions, Reza experienced some issues with his right knee and a swollen foot.
He took advantage of the team trainer who managed to take a look while the Smoke Eaters crossed his path on their way to Spokane for a play-off game.
The run even garnered some prestigious attention from back east, when the club received a telegram from then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau:
“I am very happy to extend good wishes to the Trail Smoke Eaters and to Reza Binab as he begins the Great International Rezarace for the Smokies’ scholarship fund. The outstanding performance in the past of the Trail Smoke Eaters is a source of pride to Canadians. I hope your venture will meet with every success, both during the five-day run and in its goal of raising the necessary funds for the continuance of the Trail Smoke Eaters hockey team.”
Reza was met in Warfield on March 21 by Mayor Isadore Muzzin and was joined in the run to Trail by former mayor, Arnold Lauriente.
Trail Mayor Chuck Lakes met the crew at the Warfield-Trail boundary to participate, accompanied by an RCMP and fire department escort to the Cominco Arena.
Reza was honoured at the game that night and a dance was held in the gym to commemorate the event.
Reza’s impressive feat and the generosity of the community saw their goal of $10,000 for the Trail Smoke Eater Scholarship Fund surpassed, with over $12,000 raised.
A quick internet search shows as of March 2020, Reza Binab is the Business Operations Manager for the University of Victoria Vikes Men’s Hockey team.