Runners in the Cortes Island marathon will get the chance to explore some of the island’s trails. Photo supplied

Runners in the Cortes Island marathon will get the chance to explore some of the island’s trails. Photo supplied

First ever Cortes Island marathon off and running this weekend

Cortes man starting running during pandemic

Before the pandemic, Peter Wrinch hated running, which is weird because he is about to host the first ever Cortes Island half-marathon.

“Basically, all my life I’ve kind of hated running,” he said. “I had a bit of a relationship with it though, I’ve kind of done it. Throughout the pandemic I was feeling that I needed a bit more meaning in my life. I needed to get out more. I started running, and now I love it.

“I was talking to some friends on Cortes, and we were kind of like ‘hey why don’t we organize a Cortes marathon?’ At first I was a bit reluctant, I had a full-time job and was kind of busy. Then I changed my mind. As far as I know, it’s the first half-marathon ever held on Cortes.”

The event will be this Sunday, Sept. 19 at 8:30 a.m. The event is divided up into three lengths to allow beginning and intermediate runners to join in. The route starts at Smelt Bay Provincial Park, where it circles the southern tip of the island before heading up to Manson’s Landing. From there it is another cycle around towards Reef Point Farm before returning to the start at Smelt Bay. There will be a 5 km and a ten kilometre check point along the route.

For many people on the island, getting out into nature provided an escape from the pandemic.

“Spending time in nature is healing for us,” Wrinch said. “For me, I wanted to get out, and I could go for walks, but why not push myself to run and become a better runner. When I first started last June, I started running and I could only run a kilometre before I had to walk. Now I can run 22 km. There’s something about the beauty of just persisting and continuing, continuing, continuing and getting better and better and seeing that change in our bodies and in our minds. That, plus getting outside and having the pandemic as the reason to do so is why this is happening.”

The route will cover both paved and trail sections, and will pass through his favourite spot on the island to run.

“There’s a part of the run that I think is amazing. It’s actually the first 5k. You take off from Smelt Bay, which is just such a beautiful area. You run through the campsite — which is a bit of an uphill unfortunately, but then there are some really beautiful forest trails down at the end of the point. That’s beautiful ancient forest, with 300-year-old cedars. That is my favourite part of the route, for sure. It’s all going to be really nice,” he said.

The entry fee for the race ranges from $5 to $25 depending on the level of support and distance. After covering operational costs, Wrinch will be donating the remaining funds to Last Stand for Old Growth.

“I think there’s a lot of interest on Cortes to support Old Growth land defenders,” he said. “The organization that I run has a history of engaging with climate work, so it just seemed like a really good thing to help out.”

There is still time to sign up for the race. Registration can be done online, or in person at the event on Sunday morning, though online is preferred to help streamline the process.

“We have people from all over. There are folks from Nanaimo, Campbell River, Quadra, Cortes. It was pretty cool to see folks from all over signing up,” Wrinch said.

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