A burst of sunlight hit the assembled racers just as the 30th anniversary running of the Chemainus Twilight Shuffle was about to start Tuesday, June 24 at 7 p.m.
It was almost like a shining tribute to an event that’s graced the streets of downtown Chemainus for so many years, going from a four-mile event to a more conventional three-mile race in recent years.
The Shuffle’s had its ups and downs and times when organizer Phil Nicholls wondered whether it might continue, especially after last year’s horrendous conditions when the turnout dipped to barely 150.
But the anniversary helped the race rebound to 235 registered runners and walkers and provided Nicholls some optimism that it’s on the rebound.
“It really had dropped off,’’ he said. “That part (the increase) is great to see.’’
Nicholls has toyed with the idea of making many changes.
“I did do it a little later this year,’’ he said.
Otherwise, it’s difficult to find a weekend in the spring and summer that might not conflict with other events and bring a better turnout.
The evening aspect remains its unique attribute and could generate renewed interest with younger athletes like Ladysmith track-and-field phenom Haleigh Lloyd just discovering it.
“A lot of people had heard of it and a lot hadn’t,’’ conceded Nicholls.
The relatively short distance of the race lends itself to some fast times, and Bruce Deacon was the quickest of the 213 finishers in a sizzling 16:13.
Jill Ramstead was the first female finisher in 19:10.
We even had a friendly family race going, as I returned to run the event for the first time in many years.
Five of my other family members left me in the dust — sister Linda Bevan finishing in 23:32, and the rest of the Bodger clan, brother Dave clocked in 24:46, sister-in-law Tracey in 24:58, and brother Doug and niece Rachel coming in together in 26:37.
It took me 33:23 to finish, but wait ‘till next year.
Full results are at Nicholls’ website at www. islandrunner.ca.
He hopes this will fuel a comeback for the Shuffle as it moves into the next 30 years, with support from the Chemainus Legion membership and other volunteers playing a huge role.