Much of Nanaimo’s outdoor recreation takes place in the shadow of Mount Benson.
For all the runners and walkers at next month’s Run for the Mountain six-kilometre race at Westwood Lake Park, whenever they need motivation to keep going, they can simply look up.
Mike Thibodeau, race director, said it seems like there’s extra significance to this year’s race after the Department of National Defence decided to crack down on trespassing in Westwood’s back woods.
“The fact that parts of the mountain are not going to be as available to us, makes me think saving what we can, or adding a bit more, takes the event’s importance up a little bit,” Thibodeau said.
This year’s race, Sept. 15, will be the seventh annual Run for the Mountain. Each year, proceeds go to the Nanaimo and Area Land Trust’s Mount Benson Wilderness Park project.
Besides the fundraising aspect, there’s a competitive side to the race, too. The top overall, masters and youth finishers will be named the King and Queen of Westwood, Emperor and Empress of Westwood and Prince and Princess of Westwood.
“Most of the defending royalty will be back,” Thibodeau said. “But it’s open for everyone. We get families that walk it. It’s for all ages and abilities.”
Westwood Lake Park is the only park in Nanaimo where the city has put down a running base, and it was voted the Best Place to Walk, Jog or Hike in the News Bulletin’s annual Best of the City survey this past spring.
“I never get bored of the beauty of it all up there,” Thibodeau said. “You usually end up making a lot of lake friends and you always see people you know. It’s a nice, comforting place to be.”
Registration is $20 for adults and $5 for youths until Sept. 7. Forms are available online at www.runforthemountain.ca and can be dropped off at Frontrunners at Longwood Station or at the Running Room at Country Club Centre.