For runners who love running for a cause but hate the crowds, here are suggestions of three organized runs off the beaten path that offer incredible scenery AND make a difference.
This weekend on August 8th, runners will take Tumbler Ridge, B.C.’s 11th annual Emperors Challenge, which has been named the world’s toughest but most beautiful half marathon. Starting near the tree line, runners climb over 2000 feet to the summit of Babcock Mountain where they take in the spectacular open terrain at the top of the mountain before they begin the descent home. The skyline to the west is a tableau of rugged limestone and snow on the Northern Rockies in summer.
Hosted by the Wolverine Nature Society, funds raised go towards maintaining the over 38 hiking and running trails that surround this small community set in Northeastern British Columbia. Tumbler Ridge is also known as the “waterfall capital of Canada’s North” and many of the established trails lead to some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the country. Tumbler Ridge is also home to the oldest dinosaur bone material and track way in Western Canada and is one of the few places in the world you can actually see authentic dinosaur footprints.
For runners that enjoy a warmer climate, Costa Rica’s Lapa Rios Rainforest Eco-lodge attracted 85 runners to their first annual Lapathon 18 kilometre Jungle Run in 2009 and are already planning 2010. Held in May, guests and staff members run from the award winning eco-resort to the remote village of Puerto Jimenez set in the Osa Peninsula. Lapa Rios is an upscale 16-bungalow eco-lodge protecting over 1,000 acres of preserved rain forest on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica; an area prized for its biodiversity and soon to be named a World Heritage Site. This model ecolodge has been consistently voted as one of Latin American’s top resorts by National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure and Andrew Harper.
Each year, funds raised will go back to the local community and this year over US$1400.00 was raised to provide medical equipment for the local ambulance as well as a training program for volunteers that support the Red Cross during medical emergencies. The training will be hosted by Lapa Rios as well, as they will provide all accommodation and meals while it takes place. People interested in checking out the Lapathon can watch the You Tube video, check out the resort’s facebook page and go to www.laparios.com for news on next year’s run.
And a challenge between two mayors is what started ‘North America’s Toughest Pledge Walk’, where athletes are invited to walk or run the 64.5 kilometers (about 40 miles) on Vancouver Island between two remote towns every June. In 1978, Tahsis Mayor Bill Lore issued a challenge to Gold River Mayor Vic Welsh, “I will walk to Gold River if you (Vic) will walk to Tahsis.” The challenge was taken seriously; the walk happened and 2010 marks the 33rd year the charity walk/run will take place.
Now known as “The Great Walk”, the first event raised more than $5,000 towards a community centre and since then walkers and runners have raised more than $1,000,000 for many worthy charities. In 2009, 223 walkers and runners started, 194 finished and $33,000 was raised for various charities chosen by the participants . More information can be found on www.greatwalk.com.