Fun for all: Runners take off at the South Canoe Trail System on the third and final run of the 2014 Wild Soles Trail Running Series.

Fun for all: Runners take off at the South Canoe Trail System on the third and final run of the 2014 Wild Soles Trail Running Series.

Wild Soles trail series takes off

Family event: Organizers pleasantly surprised by runs’ popularity.

They did their planning on the run.

Abbi May and Marie Peterson run together – and they love trail running.

A few years ago they noticed some running events around town had been cancelled. So they decided to organize one.

“We always run on trails,” said May. “We thought, I wonder how many people know about the trails? It would be great to get families out here.”

Another impetus in 2012 was the teachers’ job action, which meant the school running events were cancelled.

That first year of their Wild Soles Trail Running Series, “we were happy if people just showed up,” says Peterson.

They were hoping for 50 participants but, instead, close to 175 turned out.

“We were just blown away,” May says.

“We talked in the morning and neither of us slept that night (after the first race),” Peterson recalls. “There was so much excitement, so many people and families coming together. It was really cool to see that happen.”

What was their secret in attracting so many?

Peterson says Abbi and Brian, Abbi’s husband, were instrumental because of their cross-country skiing connections. Abbi is head coach of the Larch Hills Ski Team.

Peterson, herself, is not without contacts. She is coordinator of the Jackrabbits program at Larch Hills.

Many of the prime volunteers are members of the ski team. Proceeds from the event go to the Shuswap Trail Alliance, the junior ski team and Jackrabbits.

Also, the first year, they advertised through the schools.

“I think even having Facebook helped,” Peterson says, noting that Cheryl Peterson photographed the races and also posted her photos on Facebook.

They also like the fact they offer both a two-kilometre and a 5-km run.

“Anybody can do it,” says May.

It’s also affordable and relaxed.

“People say they like it because it’s low key.”

Organizing can be a lot of work, but the women combine their planning with their passion – running.

“We have our meetings on the run, literally. What do we have to get done today?” smiles Peterson.

They remember last year’s run at Skimikin as a lot of work, mainly because the trails were in rough shape and the water kept rising.

At eight o’clock the night before the race they had just finished clearing the trails, when the water flooded the road – so they had to reroute once again.

“Luckily we had lots of friends and family,” Peterson says.

Where did the name Wild Soles come from?

They both laugh.

“We did a lot of brainstorming – I don’t know why it was so hard for us. We wanted it to be fun and we wanted it to have double meaning,” says Peterson.

Adds May: “We wanted to inspire people to get outdoors on the trails with their families.”

With 275 people participating in this last series, it seems they’ve reached their goal.

 

Salmon Arm Observer