Participants walk, ski, skate far enough to collectively reach the Atlantic Ocean

By Steve Hubrecht
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The Toby Creek Nordic Club’s Virtual Whiteway Winter Challenge has now wrapped up and has proven a huge success, with participants far exceeding the target goal.

The club morphed its annual Whiteway Winter Challenge into a virtual challenge this year, as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible to run the usual challenge. As reported two weeks ago in the Pioneer, the Virtual Whiteway Winter Challenge saw 80 participants each individually logging as many miles as possible on the Whiteway on nordic skis, ice-skates, on their own two feet, or by other self-propelled means, from Jan. 22 to Feb. 22.

Collectively the participants had outlined a goal of 6,409 kilometres before the challenge started, and then through the weeks the event ran, Lake Windermere Ambassadors program coordinator Shannon McGinty plotting their progress on a map, imagining all the participants are a single person walking east across Canada starting at Kinsmen Beach.

When the Pioneer last reported on it, the participants were two weeks and slightly more than 3,000 kilometres into their challenge, putting them, on the map, near Bonfield, Ontario, a small town just off the TransCanada a touch east of North Bay and Lake Nipissing, headed in the direction of Ottawa. The last two weeks of the challenge saw participants put in a strong effort to close out the challenge, logging enough miles in the third week to end up in New Brunswick, and then for good measure posting 2,140 kilometres in the final week. This adds up to a total of 7,202 kilometres, enough to beat the goal by almost 800 kilometres, and to — on the map — go clear past Cape Spear, Newfoundland, Canada’s easternmost point.

“We’re definitely in the ocean off the east coast, 964 kilometres into the ocean” McGinty told the Pioneer, adding she’s quite pleased with how the virtual challenge has gone.

“I’d say it’s been a huge success,” she said, adding participants have been telling her the challenge motivated them to get outside and on the Whiteway much more than they normally do, particularly so during the cold snap that held the Columbia Valley in the vice-grip of a deep freeze for almost two weeks.

“We wanted to have a feel-good community event that got people outside, and that’s what we had. People really enjoyed it,” said McGinty.

The top individual in the challenge was Sue Crowley (who travelled 400 kilometres) and the top team was the Winder Warriors (who managed a collective 1015 kilometres travelled).