Julie Ann Bertram
Special to the Tribune
The Sturgeon Falls Rod & Gun Club was a flurry of activity on Thursday, October 20 as more than 240 students from West Nipissing elementary schools took to the trails for the Great Cross-Country Race. Lac Clair Road was lined with many cars and the Club entrance was blocked off by police, as children from grades 4-8 freely enjoyed themselves on the grounds. The day was chilly, and the pathways a bit muddy, but that didn’t stop the enthusiasm; a few runners still kept going in socked feet after losing shoes along the way, as volunteers collected the lost footwear and cheered the participants on. Parents, teachers, and supporters helped make the event a success after 2 years of missed races.
Kiley Moulton, White Woods school teacher and West Nipissing’s number 1 fan of student athletics, started the event around 2015. “We started this event 4 or 5 years before Covid, and we brought it back. I get these ideas and then I do them. It’s good to have our own local race. The volunteers are members of the Rod & Gun Club and they’re out on the trails, some of them are parents and retirees, and they’re amazing, we want to thank them. And we want to thank the Rod & Gun Club for giving us this venue, we couldn’t have done it without them! This year it is grades 4-8, next year we’ll bring in grade 3. We have gold, silver, and bronze medals as well as ribbons for 4th, 5th, and 6th places.”
The joy on the faces of students was infectious, many were rollicking, playing catch, and chasing each other around after getting refreshed; they’d all just completed 3km (Gr.7/8), 2km (Gr. 5/6) or 1.5km (Gr.4) runs. It was wonderful to see groups of children and parents catching up, some not having seen each other for a couple of years. Bringing the West Nipissing elementary school community together outdoors in the fresh air, engaged and happy, was a great way to celebrate physical fitness and each other, Moulton expressed.
Participating schools included La Résurrection, White Woods, Saint-Joseph, and Jeunesse Active from Sturgeon Falls, Christ-Roi from River Valley, and Ste-Marguerite d’Youville from Verner.
At the end of the day, everyone crowded around for the medal/ribbon ceremony. Teachers had to keep telling the children to move back as they packed in closely, cheering loudly for their fellow students who proudly walked up to receive recognition.