More than 250 of the province's best cross county skiers skated their way to the Walden Cross Country Fitness Club for Ontario Cup racing action Jan. 19 and 20. Athletes competed in a range of age categories, vying for the chance to race at the national championships. An overnight dumping of snow made the trails soft, but it didn't stop skiers from pushing to the finish line.
Of the hundreds of racers, about 25 represented local clubs. Pam Hull, who served as race secretary and is currently chair of the WCCFC, said it was nice to see so many local riders on the trails they club spent so much time and energy preparing for the competition.
She said some 2,000 volunteer hours went into readying the venue for the race.
“In order to showcase our club, we had to put on a high-calibre event,” Hull said. Not only does the race allow up-and-coming talent within the club to shine, it showcases the facility itself. The WCCFC boasts 24 kilometers of trails in Naughton — three of which are lit up for night skiing — and another three kilometers at Beaver Lake. It took a hired technical expert from Thunder Bay to calculate the specifics of the course, making sure it had all the right inclines, curves and turns. It was a costly endeavour, but a worthwhile one for the club.
“This is huge,” Hull said. “This is what a club strives to do. It's an accolade for them. It gives them more validation.”
As the club continues to “steadily grow,” it's continuing to build a welcoming reputation.
“There is a warm family environment here,” Hull said.
Natalie Dumont, a volunteer with the club, said the people who give their time to the organization are what make it so successful.
“The dedication of the people in this club is truly inspiring,” she said.