It all started…
with a small group of trail runners that has existed in the Chilliwack area since the early to mid 90’s. When I first started to accompany them on the trails around the year 2000, a few of the runners had already left the scene, but a couple of the remaining group were welcoming new blood. This group talked about things like when they used to have a marathon up in Columbia Valley, and what some of their incredible running times were of doing Elk, and of course about running the Knee Knacker in the first years of it’s existence.
After joining them for some longer training runs, because they had encouraged me to entered the Diez Vista 50 km trail race, I found that they knew some awesome trails to lead us all the way out to the end of Cultus Lake, into Columbia Valley, and back through the Provincial Park trails, to finish by running along the beach back to Main Beach.
As others with the new found enjoyment of trail running joined me, we began to talk about how awesome it would be to invite still others to come join us in the beauty of the trails in the area. An idea began to form within the small group, that we should pick a route around the lake and maybe time ourselves, or invite other people from out of our area to come join us.
“What about a race?” I suggested, “Well maybe just an unofficial little race.”
As I began to scout out a few more of the trails at the far end of the lake, we debated whether to build a new trail using some old logging skid roads, which led down to where the outlet of Watt Creek flows into the lake, at Lindell Beach. But the residents there were not supportive of a bridge or creek crossing. So the next alternative was following some old logging roads which came through some private property onto the Columbia Valley Highway on Robinson Road.
The original idea of the loop being 25 km, couldn’t seem to be made to work with this longer route, so the question became, ‘how long would this race be?’
We had and continued to occasionally run through the private property but eventually realized that if we continued to go this way we really should get permission. We had already heard that a gate had been left open, and cattle escaped, likely from motorcyclists coming through.
So eventually as the idea of an actual race began to take form and permission was asked for and granted by the 2 owners of the private properties we crossed. This now left us with a few more legalities to allow the race to become official. With some guarantees from business friends, that if the race was not profitable, they would cover our losses. So, we forged ahead.
Two of the remaining questions were, ‘how long is this race’, and ‘what do we call it?’ Eventually the Around The Lake designation seemed to take hold. But as for how long was it? After multiple tries at recording an accurate distance reading, with different quality GPS’s, foot pods, etc., it was agreed to refer to it as being 30 km give’r take. The accurate distance seemed to usually work out to be between 29 and 30 km.
And so the race and name came to be!
In the first years there was only the full 30 km distance, as some of us would have preferred to make an even longer race of 50 km. But eventually as more people came out to enjoy trail running, the idea of creating a shorter relay distance, to encourage some of the newer trail runners to participate, became a reality. The participation grew and the original limits of total participants allowed, needed to be increased. Which, of course, made the permitting process more arduous. As some of the original organizers grew tired of the work, more new blood was needed to allow the race to continue, but the interest remained!
The course has remained the same through all the years, although there has been talk of running it in reverse. It has been run twice in a row (by yours truly), but no one has taken up the challenge to create a longer double event, yet. Occasional mistakes have been made by runners en route, some longer, some shorter, but many participants are very familiar with the route.
The home-made goodies and the grass roots feel of the race have continued to be a main source of pride for the race organizers.
Hopefully new interest to continue helping to organize the race, will keep it going for many years to come!