Local teens develop Cape Breton Trail Race Series

WHYCOCOMAGH: A group of Inverness County teens have come together to develop a trail race series that will see funds raised to facilitating more outdoor class time in their school.

The first race is called The Wild Hog and will take place in Whycocomagh on Saturday, October 21 with 5k, 10k and 21k sections. The youth started putting together ideas for promotions, Website and social media development and mapping the trail race route last June. The teens have done all the work themselves taking on tasks that appealed to each of them with guidance from their adult mentors.

All meetings take place outdoors and are usually combined with a hike with discussion around nature and the benefits it provides.

“Times have changed,” said Sakura MacLean, a Grade 9 student. “When our parents were growing up, being outside playing and spending time in nature was not something kids were told to do – that was their everyday life.

“Today everything is different and having our schools change is important to ensure teens get what they need for strong mental health. The key to that is more time in nature.

“Study after study proves how important it is and it also gets us more aware of the changes to the environment – an issue that will dominate our adult lives.”

Conscious of teachers’ heavy work load, the youth decided to put their portion of funds raised toward facilitating more classroom time spent in nature, whether that is paying for busing, hiring chaperones, or providing equipment.

“We should be leading the way in outdoor education,” said Grade 11 student Kali Beaton. “We are willing to do our part to make that happen.”

Promoting community volunteering was the initial goal of Sandee Maclean, representing the Whycocomagh Development Commission, when she and her friend, Rev. Rachel Campbell, brought the idea to the Dalbrae students.

“Small communities need more volunteers and youth are not excited about traditional volunteering methods so we wanted to show them volunteering is fun and rewarding and they can choose how to volunteer,” Maclean said in a press release.

“They also want to promote the amazing trail system Cape Breton has to a new group of people. Not everyone wants to explore Cape Breton by visiting the traditional sights. Highlighting the trail system we have here to trail runners, and mountain bikers will bring more people to our small communities year round. Think Fat Biking and winter Trail Race! Fifty per cent of the money raised goes back to the host community and 50 per cent the students choose what cause to support.”

To promote families, students and teachers participation, the youth organizers are offering a $15 race rate for the 5k. The 5k is a steady hike that most people can do and a great way for locals to spend a fall Saturday morning.

Anyone unable to make the Saturday morning start is still welcome to attend Friday night’s community pasta supper and a showing of short adventure films at the Whycocomagh Waterfront Centre. The meal is served at 6 p.m. Cost is $15 a plate for adults and $9 children.