We watch COVID-19 kick
the sh- out of sport. Then we
stand up again and say, oh, yeah, COVID-19, well,
here’s my silver lining.
The Sudbury Fitness Challenge
events are an example of that.
The pandemic bit a massive
chunk out of the seven-event Sudbury Fitness Challenge,
with the postponement of the swim, canoe, and mountain
bike events by June and the four-event Beaton Classic
in July. But athletes find a way — even in the
line up for the 2019 SudburyROCKS!!! 10km
event - supplied by V. Perdue
And so, while it would
have been easier to cancel, the challenge’s
preeminent Sudbury Rocks race moved to a virtual event
on Sunday, Oct. 25. The full details are here: www.sudburyrocksmarathon.com.
Initially, in April,
the event moved from May 31 to October 25 to get beyond
the pandemic, says longtime organizer Vince Perdue.
In July, they realized
there was no way they could pull off the usual Sunday
run of 500 to 2,000 people (not to mention the number
of volunteers). So they relaunched as the SudburyRocks!!!
COVID Virtual Marathon and moved to a one-day virtual
There are five-, 10-
21- and 42 kilometre events — pick your power!
The blessing in disguise
is that Perdue, and others, usually operating the
Sudbury Rocks, can actually run that Sunday.
done it. I never expected to,” he says.
poignant because their longtime friend and Rocks volunteer,
Steve Matusch, died last winter after a battle with
They will run the half
marathon, 21-km event, also known as Steve’s
Half. His sister is expected to come from Calgary
to run the race in Sudbury, says Perdue.
Instead of cancelling,
they thought of the participants. They already had
more than 300 registrants for the 2020 event. So now
every registrant — and those who stay registered
— will get a medal, a T-shirt, and registration
for 2021 event, at no extra cost.
no loss to the participants.”
In an ironic or macabre
twist, this year’s medals and T-shirts will
bear the name COVID.
The event raises funds
for the Northern Cancer Foundation. Not going forward
would have affected the NCF even more than it already
will be. Sudbury Rocks is non-profit and any extra
money goes to the charity.
As well, people in the
athletic community know how fragile it is to keep
something going, he says. He worried that cancellation
would mean losing the newbie runners who had hoped
to try the 5 and 10k events but then saw it wasn’t
Now he hopes the running
community has something to keep it motivated and in
a positive frame of mind as they go forward through
In late May, I cancelled
the Ian McCloy Island Swim, of which I am race director.
Over the years, the swim has moved from Ramsey Lake
to Nepahwin. Cold water famously shortened things
in 2016, but it wasn’t ever cancelled since
its inception back in the misty annals of time in
COVID-19 has really beaten
up on swimming and swimming pools. I didn’t
want COVID to win, but swimming safely and with buddies
are priority No. 1 — no lifeguards, no swim.
All that being said,
however, it warms my heart to see the pods of swimmers
venturing out safely on the lakes, namely on Nepahwin
in the south end. You see them with their orange,
pink or fluorescent swim buoys in tow. Just keep swimming.
Now to join the rest of Northern Ontario and open
hit the water for the Ian McCloy Island Swim
at the university beach on Lake Nepahwin on
Sunday. BEN LEESON/THE SUDBURY STAR/POSTMEDIA
The Canoe Marathon couldn’t
see its way through the COVID-19. either. The venerable
paddle around Ramsey Lake is held the last Sunday
Longtime race organizer
Rob Marcolini followed suit with every canoe race
cancelled in Ontario.
“The race would
have contravened our COVID plan. You can’t have
crowds of people.”
The race will be back,
he says. Even if the fitness challenge died, the club
will always host a race. The race generates revenue
and club awareness.
As well, it’s been
good training for the racing arm of the Sudbury Canoe
Club. It was a good race for the new paddlers to cut
their teeth on, he says. Paddlers from Parry Sound
would come to Sudbury to participate.
There has been a massive
silver lining for the club, too. As practically the
only sporting thing happening, their sprint program
has expanded to 40 racers. There are three waves of
kids heading out on the lake, starting most mornings
Earlier in July, Beaton
Classic organizer Neil Phipps cancelled the swim-bike-canoe-run
event that has been running since 1982 — with
a year or two break here and there.
As he said in a Facebook
post, he hopes to have smaller events in the fall.
He also hopes that the final event, October’s
Turkey Gobbler, will take place — in one form
The July mountain bike
race is gone but there will be a lower-key event.
The Bush Pig Open — Beat the COVID — Multi-Lap
Race will be held Aug. 8 at the Walden Trails.
Points from the event
will go towards the SFC overall title. The Walden
Mountain Bike Club is hosting several low-key races
this year, with sponsorship from The Outside Store.
And so we move forward
— mostly — through this pandemic. In our
quasi-isolation, I wonder how we really define health?
How is it a pandemic can so narrow the way we practise
It’s been fascinating
to watch everyone pivot on a dime with the precision
of a principal dancer at the National Ballet of Canada.
To keep this in perspective,
this pandemic isn’t the first hurdle the Sudbury
Fitness Challenge has cleared in its history.
It was once in debt to
$20,000. Interest has waxed and waned.
And yet, it will remain
long after this pandemic has faded — as long
as people continue to value health, community, and
sport — and how all those threads bind us together.
Laura Young’s column,
Personal Best, runs regularly in The Sudbury Star.