First Annual Rail Trail Relay

by Trudy Pogue

It's all about something we learned in kindergarten – sharing. At the first annual Rail Trail Relay on August 28, 2004, runners and ATVers proved that the trail can be shared by both motorized and non-motorized users. The ATV Club was more than happy to help out during the event, staying behind the last runners and sweeping the trail for anyone who may have needed help along the way. The trail was closed to all other ATV riders during the relay. Notices were posted along the trail and in newspapers beforehand, and only a couple of ATVs had to be turned away.

The event was sponsored by the Trails & Tours Network and organized by Sue Shikaze, who planned the event to promote non-motorized uses of the trail. There were thirteen teams of six runners who each ran a section of the trail from Kinmount to Haliburton. The sections were of various lengths ranging from 2.5 to 10.9 km. This allowed runners of various ages and abilities to take part. Some teams had two runners running the same section, and one runner was accompanied by her dog. There were family teams, serious runners, those running for fun, and teams whose members met for the first time on Race Day.

One of the things that made the race a great experience was that participants were able to cheer on each of their team members. Since the Rail Trail runs alongside County Road 1, teams travelled the whole length together. Each runner was cheered on by his team as he started his portion of the relay; the team then hopped into cars and vans and drove to the next changeover where they cheered the finishing runner and saw the next runner off.

Relay participants were rewarded with hand-made ceramic souvenir mugs, courtesy of Singing Dog Studio's Thom Lambert and Sue Shikaze. Ceramic medals were awarded to the overall first place team and the first place team with three or more women. Medals were also awarded to members of the team with the largest age span. With a nine-year-old girl and a 68-year-old man, the "Home Team" won with a span of 59 years. Door prizes were donated by businesses located along the Kinmount-Haliburton corridor. Post-race food, provided by Franka's Delectables, was a nice change from the usual dry bagels and bananas. In spite of the heat, participants enjoyed themselves tremendously. It's a good bet that there will be more than thirteen teams in next year's relay!