Runners start training for Westwood race

NANAIMO – The Run for the Mountain six-kilometre run/walk around Westwood Lake will take place Sept. 14.

Lisa Rokeby nears the finish line of the Run for the Mountain race last year.

Lisa Rokeby nears the finish line of the Run for the Mountain race last year.

Every year, the field of competitors gets larger, the times get faster, and the Run for the Mountain adds to its history.

The annual six-kilometre run/walk around Westwood Lake will take place Sept. 14 this year, so the planning and the training is starting now.

Mike Thibodeau, race director, said now that the Run for the Mountain is nearing its eighth annual running, “there’s some history to the event now.”

For example, he said, Rebecca Bassett is a five-time division champion, Erin Burrett has won four times, Shelby Drope has won three times and Kim Gagliano and Byron Trajan are both two-time champs.

“It’s kind of fun to watch the development of some of the runners over the years,” Thibodeau said. “A bit of running history of Nanaimo now is happening and can be seen through this event.”

The men’s and women’s winners every year are crowned King and Queen of Westwood, and the masters and youth division winners get to call themselves Emperor, Empress, Prince and Princess of Westwood.

New this year is a team division to recognize an Empire of Westwood. A team can have any number of participants of any age or gender, and the top five times will count toward the team’s standings.

But the Run for the Mountain isn’t just for those hoping to become Westwood royalty.

“Not only does it have some of the fastest of the fast, it is also geared towards individuals who just want to go up and walk it or walk-run it,” Thibodeau said. “If someone is kind of new to running or walking or just trying to implement that into their lifestyle, this would be a very attainable event.”

And a worthwhile one. The Run for the Mountain is a fundraiser for the Nanaimo Area Land Trust’s preservation of Mount Benson as a wilderness park.

Cost to register for the event is $20, and more information can be found on the race website at www.runforthemountain.ca. The site has a link to its Facebook page, where people can find information about the Saucony keychain search at Westwood Lake Park in the weeks leading up to race day.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com