Frontrunners in the 20th annual Loop the Lake on Saturday, August 8th set off from the start line in Windermere. Around 650 people signed up for the anniversary event.  Photo by Breanne Massey

Frontrunners in the 20th annual Loop the Lake on Saturday, August 8th set off from the start line in Windermere. Around 650 people signed up for the anniversary event. Photo by Breanne Massey

From the far flung corners of the Columbia Valley and beyond, sprinters came together to dash away from the Windermere Community Hall for a community cause thats become a longstanding tradition.

The Rotary Club of Invermere hosted the 20th Annual Loop the Lake half-marathon and 10-kilometre race on August 8th to raise money for community-based projects that revitalize and brighten ol’ Copper City (now known as Invermere).

Colourful contestants came from Kamloops to Calgary, and everywhere in between, to honour the return of a landmark running event.

Its been wonderful, said Yvonne Redeker, Rotary Club of Invermere club director and Loop the Lake chairperson. This is our 20th annual and although we dont have a record number of participants, were right up there at 650 participants or so and their families. Its just wonderful.

The fundraiser touched down on the community two decades ago, and gradually has become a highlight of the summer for many cottagers, athletes and weekend warriors. This year’s event raised approximately $20,000.

It certainly has grown in participants, said Ms. Redeker. The first year, I believe there were around 100 participants.

Throughout the day, the historic tour captured the attention and fascination of residents in the Columbia Valley. Participants were pleased to see fans gather alongside the final stretch to the Kinsmen Beach finish line.

This is my fourth year, said Calgary resident Stephana Cherak, 21, who summers in Radium Hot Springs and won the Womens Half Marathon. Its so much fun being on that course with everyone else. It definitely pushes you along.

She added the constantly changing terrain is typically the biggest challenge for athletes competing in the Loop the Lake race.

Theres a hill every five minutes so that wears on you, but its a great community event and its nice to have everybody out to cheer (on runners) at the event, said Ms. Cherak. There were tons of people racing this year, and (lots of promotional) signage the entire feeling of the event this year was a lot more intense. It definitely increased the wow factor and drew the numbers from outside of the Columbia Valley.

The winner’s purse for her success was the same one that Ms. Cherak carried last year, when she won the same event.

Im a sponsored Adidas athlete so I travel everywhere for different races, and this is still my favourite one each year, she concluded. I absolutely love it and wont miss it next year.

For others, Loop the Lake is a social responsibility to the community.

Canal Flats couple Taylor and Lula Howe have been participating in the 10-kilometre run for the last three years.

Its nice to support the community, said Mrs. Howe.

Mr. Howe added its great for the community and the challenge is awesome. Its quite an adrenaline rush and its quite inspiring to see all of these people out. Its great.

But the drive to compete remains a priority for many people who enter the race.

Proceeds from the fundraiser have grown from $1,000 to roughly $30,000, according to Ms. Redeker.

It goes directly back to the community for projects and initiatives, she added. Rotary uses all fundraising money to give back to the community in the form of projects, disaster aid, scholarships, literacy programs and youth programs a huge variety of initiatives.

Theres still room to determine what the next community project will be as there is currently nothing on the table.

Were on to our next project, but we havent identified that yet, Ms. Redeker said. We love to acknowledge that what we do, as Rotary, is funded by the community. Not us. Its us contributing our time and effort to raise the money from the community so when it says that its a Rotary Splash Park, its really a splash park thats facilitated by Rotary with all of (the community’s) money.

The top male in this year’s 10-kilometre run was Ryan Twa of Calgary with a time of 36:40. Chelsey Moore of Calgary placed first in the women’s 10-kilometre run with a time of 42:02. In the half marathon, Richard Macdonald of Calgary took first place with a time of 1:17:49 and Stephana Cherak raced away with first place in the women’s half marathon in a time of 1:31:59.

For the complete results broken down by age, visit www.loopthelake.bc.ca.