A new Castlegar club is looking to make running and racing more accessible through weekly runs and a series of trail races this summer.
Châteaugar Run Club was created by Zachary Robert in 2021 after he and his wife moved to Castlegar in the midst of the pandemic. With COVID-19 restrictions in place, the family was looking for a way to meet new people.
‘This running group not only helps us meet like-minded people, but also discover the vast and beautiful network of trails that this town has to offer,” said Robert.
The response to the creation of the club was immediate. Within three months 80 people had joined, and now at just seven months old the group has grown to more than 130.
The club runs twice a week, once at Millennium Park and once on an area trail. About a dozen people show up for each run and the pace set depends on who shows up. This is not an elite club, with people from all levels of fitness are welcome.
The open-for-all philosophy is also evident in the race series the club has planned.
“I created the series because I noticed a huge hole in the availability of distances in trail running,” said Robert. “Unless you are a part of a cross-country club with your school, there often aren’t any trail races under 25 kilometres and those are almost seen as a cop out compared to the 50 km or 100 km often offered at the same race.
“You often hear runners say, ‘No, I just did the 25 km.’ I think that’s crazy.”
The first race took place last month on the Selkirk College Trails and about 30 people participated.
Robert was also frustrated with how ultramarathon organizers try to “jam pack the most total elevation gain humanly possible” into their races.
“Everyone wants the biggest, baddest race out there. Not us, we want fun, mid-distance and scenic races that are outside of the usual summer race schedule so that people can train for longer races, have a fun day out with their friends or family and still have the legs to get out of bed the next day.”
Robert is also determined to keep race fees affordable. With many races charging fees in the hundreds of dollars, Châteaugar’s $15-30 fees are designed to simply cover costs for a no-frills event and support something else Robert feels passionate about — the Castlegar Parks and Trails Society.
Membership in the society is mandatory to participate in the races.
“The work they do is fantastic,” says Robert. “I have rarely seen a more active and enterprising group than this one. They put in so many hours and so much dedication in projects that are often just taken for granted.”
The fee for the first race you enter is $15 for a yearly membership in the Castlegar Parks and Trails Society plus $15-20, depending on the race. Subsequent races are just the $15-20.
Organizers encourage participants to bring something along to contribute to a celebration at the finish line and the gathering itself becomes a community event with racer’s families and supporters joining in the festivities. Robert says people stick around for hours getting to know one another and having fun.
The next race is scheduled for May 21 on the Doukhobor Waterline Trail. It will be about seven kilometres in length. The third race will take place in September. Robert plans to make the race series an annual event.
For more information or to register check out chateaugarrunclub.wordpress.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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