Great Walk 2009


Thank you all for participating in the 2009 Great Walk and making it another great success. Your kind words make volunteering for the event worthwhile and enjoyable – thank you.



I just wanted to say what an awesome event you guys put on. It was truly
one of the most challenging races I have competed in in the last few
years, both distance wise and terrain wise. Your volunteers and aid
stations were awesome and the towns of Gold River and Tahsis were amazing
One suggestion I have was add ultra marathon to the title of the event.
When runners google "vancouver island ultras" or whatever, it opens the
event up to not just walkers but more runners as well.
Below is a link to my blog which you will find my race report which some
of the walkers may find interesting as well.
All the best,
Myke LaBelle



Gwenda Bryan wrote:
Thanks SOOO much to ALL the dedicated organizers and volunteers of the Great Walk. I was overwhelmed by your support and don't think I could have done it without your smiles and cheers (especially that last km!). So much work must have gone into it - you all deserve medals too :-)


Hello The entire greatwalk team!!!!! I wanted to thank you all for all the hard work and caring you did for all of us on the walk. We were all really greatful.Thank you for the showers, first aid and for all of you just being there to make this happen. Please make sure the entire team hears how greatful we all are.GREAT JOB!!!! Thank you Annette Halsted #193.



I have just come home from this year's Great Walk, the second time I have had a chance to participate in this magnificent event.  All my thanks go out to you and to the team of volunteers who make this Walk 
possible.  The organization, enthusiasm and energy of your group are truly outstanding, and you are an example to the rest of us. Would that more communities could rise to the challenge the way yours does.
With best wishes for a well-deserved rest -- you and your team have  deserved it.
Barry Munn, Nanoose Bay



finished the run in 7:40, disappointing :(  i overtrained. some things are picking at my brain. at the half way point, the girls working there were not very obiging. they clipped a hole in my race placard, and then said, "gatorade and water are there. you have to pour it yourself." every other station was prepared. the last thing someone who has been running for 35 k, is to have to stop, for any length of time.  these girls had pleanty of time to prepare, before, and during the event. secondly, what is up with the $45.00 support vehicle charge? everone i talked to was taken back. we all agreed it is just a cash cow. dust or no dust on the road!  the charge has nothing to do with reducing the number of vehicles on the road, and that is a fact. lastly, several local vehicles were allowed to leave before entrants/participants. this upset alot people. despite the economy in thasis, it only makes common snse to have the race begin at thasis and end at gold river. there were alot of very frustrated and angry people who sat for hours in their vehicles waiting to leave. problem is, there is nothing to do in thasis, so people want to leave. further, it's not like they are in any shape to do anything is it? besides, there is nothing to do in thasis, literally nothing! the local economy makes a few extra bucks (pub and hotels), but in the end, speaking on behalf of many participants, you will raise more funds for the lions club, if you start the race from thasis, and ending it in gold river. oh, second last ( i forgot to mention), why did you stop offering soup and sandwiches? people were laughing at the fact that you stopped offering refreshments. to add insult to injury, there was a stand in the hall at the finish selling junk food. for instance, hot dogs for $3.00? the last thing anyone wants to eat is a hotdog at the end of this race. absolute stupidity!!! for a lousy couple hunded bucks, you could count on your participants saying good things about the walk, instead of bad. keeping this in mind, i would expect, the great walk will at some point have to be discontinued as the number of participants is continually declining. well, that's all. sorry to bother you, i know you must get alot of e-mails from participants. i probably won't be coming back  due to all of this :(  i hope you are not insulted. as a long-distance runner, i am just offering some good tipe as to how to keep this great event up and running.




My family and I wanted to extend a special thank you to all the many
volunteers for a fabulous weekend.

We wouldn't have changed anything, we had perfect weather, all the volunteers were warm in welcoming us at each check point. Throughout the day we enjoyed the beautiful scenery, met other walkers along the way, the snacks and drinks were greatly appreciated and we finished with great pride and accomplishment. We had a delicious dinner
at the West View Marine and finished off the night (early) at the Maquinna Resort.

Each of us trained for it and were well aware of what was required, therefore we came well prepared and finished with great results. We came in at 10:28. We heard that next year may possibly be the last year. I completely understand the amount of work and dedication it goes to running this event. Maybe it could run every other year? I am sure you and your group of volunteers will try to explore other solutions.
We will be back next year, and hopefully we will bring a few extra's with us.

Thank you again, Lionel, Michelle and Justin Gjerde (Campbell River)



This was our first time doing the Great Walk, and we had a wonderful time!!! It was harder than we had anticipated, but it was SO worth it! Many thanks to all of the wonderful volunteers; they put in an incredible amount of hours to make this happen. The warm welcome in Tahsis was amazing, and the vegetable chowder was the best soup EVER!!! (this coming from a Chef!) My husband & I are still talking about the soup! I am going to to my best to recruit lots of co-workers & friends for next year, as we want to do it again and don't want it to be cancelled! Great job, thank you so much :)


Wendy & Derek



I would like to thank all of the great volunteers who make the Great Walk such a success. Despite the one negative comment I do believe that the vast majority of walkers are quite happy with how things are run and understand the tradition of walking to Tahsis from Gold River. I did not walk this year but I have in the past and will again in the future, mainly because of the happy volunteers and how well the event is run. Keep up the good (and sometimes thankless) work.

See you next year,





Thank you so much to all those responsible for putting on the Great Walk. All the Volunteers and local people from Tahsis and Gold River were just Top Notch. The Sooke Lions participants, our great Dave and Gail Nash and members from the STARR running club were proud to represent Sooke. Right from start to finish the event went well, the volunteers at the stations definitely deserve a pat on the back. The welcome into Tahsis at the finish is an emotional experience with the children, the sirens and all people lining the way. The young cadet at the finish line was a real nice touch, and who doesn't like to ring the bell? Could you please let me know where I can find the results online for my statistically oriented runner friends.

Once again thank you so much,

Steve Kent, Secretary Sooke Lions



This was my 13th year participating in the Great Walk and I keep saying it is my last but end up returning the next year.  Either once is enough or you become addicted.  I understand some of the comments from Justin, but they did seem a little harsh.  One thing I didn’t understand was what he meant he over trained for it but was disappointed in his time?  It does seem like a long day waiting to be able to leave but you make the best of it and cheer and support others coming in behind you.  As for reversing it does anybody want to climb those 13% & 18% grade hills!  Maybe this just isn't the event for him.  The walk has lost participants over the last few years and needs to be aggressively advertised to bring it back to its hay day.  I think the volunteers do a great job, an event like this takes a lot of planning and community spirit from Tahsis and Gold River.

I hope the Great Walk continues for many more years.  I'm sure my group will be back next year!

Cindy Hughes (Courtenay)



Well done.  As a first timer (support vehicle) for the walk I would just like to say a couple of things.  Number one-fabulous job.  Well organized, great people, questions were answered.  The only thing that I would suggest is that you forewarn people that arrive in supporting vehicles the condition of the road to get to the start of the walk.

I brought a car (not a truck, SUV, anything high off the ground) and was surprised by the road that we had to travel to get to meet the walkers.  I could not see the reason that we would have to take the back roads rather than the road the walkers took to arrive at the start of the walk.  My car was beat up trying to navigate the ungraded road.

Please consider letting people know the condition of the roads before they head out.  People from out of district and first timers have no idea what to expect.  I have an idea for future walks, but did not jave a clue as to what to expect for the first time around.  Thanks for listening to me.



Just had to email you to say "Job well done"!!
We had such a wonderful experience enhanced by the amazing organization, helpful volunteer support, & all round terrific people. One can only imagine the amount of work that is put into organizing 
an event as great as this one. My hat is off to you all!
I sincerely hope the Walk is able to continue until I am plugging up those horrid hills with my walker!
I was pleased to see the Running Room there.. & to see pamphlets in their stores.

Maybe advertising in the Running Room magazine as a Walk & (as previously suggested by someone more clever than myself)  as an Ultramarathon the numbers will come back up to a viable level.
Also maybe a Facebook profile? I just mistakenly typed in Great Walk on their site & many events popped up. A thought?
Again Thank You!!
See you next year!
Connie Green (#38... accompanied by # 39, 40, 41, 42)




I would like to thank you and your organizers for a fantastic painful adventure.  I have never been around this part of Island and amazed at the beautiful scenery and the warm people.  I have wanted to do this walk for years and I am glad I finally took the time to do it.  Your volunteers and the two communities of Tahsis and Gold River should be very proud of themselves for the performance they put on for the walkers.  The volunteers and the communities enthusiasm are what made the competitors persevere through the event.  The water was cold and the Gatorade and food provided were awesome.  Thank you all for a fantastic job.

Vance Capron (Victoria)



Would just like to thank all of the volunteers for their hard work, smiles, and encouraging words.    The walk was well organized, with great support along the way.    I'll be back next year and will try to bring a few more people with me.     

Again, thanks.
Derek Petrie #92



It was a great experience. It has taken me 16 years get there and  it was worth every minute.  For me it was not a race but an accomplishment. It was amazing how once you had your pace, there was a group of people you saw coming or going from the check points. It was like associates from work, you chatted with them and watched for them  between check points. Where  this was really evident was after the race, a few days later running into a couple of ladies in a coffee shop in Nanaimo. There was a genuine sense of interested on how you did and how you are doing.  This was very cool…. 


My husband was my support person, he totally enjoyed his day. He met some very interesting people and enjoyed helping out others where ever he could.  He said he wouldn’t have missed it. The whole experience was worth the support vehicle fee……. You can’t get that type of enjoyment for $3.50 an hour any where.  He was very pleased with the volunteers, when you think about the limited number you have to draw from and the number of hours they were committed to, they did a great job……be proud.

For you people out there that are numbers people, I wore my pedometer through the entire walk. The number of steps shouldn’t surprise me but it does sound staggering…. 86,344 steps……

Thanks again everyone.


Sandra & Fred Burrows

Fort St. John BC



I had a great time again doing the March, and had great interactions with all of your volunteers.  Unlike Justin, I planned on staying in Tahsis, who wants a long ride home when the hospitality there is so great.  John and his staff at the Marina made us a great meal, and a warm fire, and we visited all the local volunteers who were still out at the local bars.  I could not have planned a better event, and sincerely hope to bring more folks with me next year. 

Thanks again.

 Chief Petty Officer Mike Miller



A 63.5 km thank you to all the organizers, checkpoint volunteers and many others who made my first Great Walk a terrific experience. And thanks also to all the other runners and walkers with whom it was a pleasure to converse with along the picturesque course.
Hope to see all of you back next year, and for those who might be thinking of trying the Great Walk for the first time, I heartily encourage you to participate in the event. It's certainly not an easy distance, but with training anyone can do it and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment at the finish line!
Dana (#123)



Wow!  As a checkpoint volunteer I was so impressed with the commitment, dedication and positive attitude amongst walkers this year.  What an inspiration you all are!  Congratulations and thank-you for participating in this event which means so much to the communities of Tahsis and Gold River.  Thank you also to the Lions Club organizers- for your months of preparation to make 2009 Burning Boot such a success.   
Autumn Phipps




Ron and I did the great walk last weekend.  We wanted to thank all the people who were involved in organizing it.  This was our first time and we felt that we were part of something very special. 

Everyone we met was wonderful and we appreciated all the help we received.

We are already planning to return next year.

Thank you,

Jackie and Ron Mooney



May I reply to Justin, in the comments section ...

Justin – sorry to hear you were disappointed with your time.  Me too, I finished in 7:27 last year and hoped to improve this year, unfortunately I was 7:50, so we were certainly in the same vicinity during the event.  I was actually impressed with the checkpoints, the girls at 6 were super fast clipping my bib, not holding me up and they always have the challenge that some of us like to fill our own bottles with the Gatorade/water so most of the checkpoints had the containers set up outwards ready for us at the front end to fly through and refuel without delay.  They really do their best to accommodate everyone even though finishing times vary from 5+ to 15+.  Another participant (first woman to finish a few years back) told me she called ahead as she getting to the checkpoints and the volunteers would get whatever she asked for, it’s not what runners are used to, but we are the minority and not what they are used to either and the volunteers are only too willing to help if they know how.  I’ve participated 8 times now and have witnessed volunteers coach, aid and assist participants through to a finish that seemed impossible.  There are some amazing people out there only too willing to help in any way they can, all giving of their time, freely and willingly often without thanks to support us at some crazy hour of the morning to say nothing of all the preparation they did beforehand, I bet most of them were out of bed when I was still busy sleeping.

What works for some of us, doesn’t work for others and of 12 aid stations you only mentioned #6 was a problem.  #6 is the biggest of all but you (and I) just flew through, if you’d actually gone into the aid station just behind the bushes you’d have found hot soup – it was suggested to me but I didn’t go in, however,  when I stopped there a few years ago there were chairs and tents and massages too, as well as the soup and other goodies, not sure what was there this year because when runners like us don’t stop to smell the roses we miss out.  As for sandwiches, they used to be wonderful, unfortunately as I was told, Health Canada stepped in and said – no fridges – no sandwiches, the fact that they were kept cold in coolers (and they were) didn’t cut it (how can you eat sandwiches and run, I’d end up with stomach cramps).  Besides, the soup at checkpoint 6 –there were other more typical type fuels at other checkpoints.   I had soup at the end, there were several varieties – (the potato was very good) and no limit on seconds, along with bread and salad and home-made rice crispy squares.  The food for the participants wasn’t limited and was brought out in relatively small quantities so that it was fresh for everyone.  The hotdogs were available for purchase for supporters and anyone else who wanted them, they don’t charge us as much as other big events, or have enough sponsorship to do free food for all the supporters as well as us so they did have to charge for the giant hotdogs.  I don’t eat meat so they aren’t my thing either, but I thought it was a nice touch for those who did.  It’d be a funny old world if we all liked the same foods.  I had my fill of other good food before heading off to the pub for a free beer as offered to all participants.  We usually go for a free swim in the pool afterwards, the lovely cool water is very soothing to tired muscles, there's a sauna too if you like to alternate heat and cool, but this year we ran out of time before we had to leave for our flight. 

Support vehicles used to be free, but I’m guessing  you didn’t participated in those years.  It got to the point that we were continually choking on dust and being edged off the road, running tangents wasn’t an option, adding to time and not good for IT bands either to be stuck to the side of the road, it felt like every other walker brought along a vehicle – honestly it wasn’t fun, and there were a lot of grumbles from participants, that was when the charge was implemented and it really did cut the number of vehicles to only those who really really wanted them.  Not sure whether you had support, I didn’t and never have, the checkpoints provide more than I need and if anyone needs more, they can send their own bags to checkpoints along the way – I’ve friends who did that and said their bags appeared like magic.  I send mine straight to Tahsis and some kind soul transports it there for me and keeps it safe until I arrive.

Before my time, I was told the event did start in Tahsis but was changed for logistical reasons, though I don’t know whether that is truth or rumour, I’ve never asked a reliable source – don’t you think 16K of downhill at the end would be brutal. 

Bad runs, happen to all of us, some undertrained, you said you were over trained – which is perhaps even worse but even the perfectly trained don’t always have a perfect run, which is really disappointing.  The first time of doing an event is always a bit of a learning curve, the pacing, the supplies, the way things work and in this event the hills, oh goodness – the best training in the world is still going to be challenged by those hills.  Now you’ve got the scoop why not come back on my birthday next year and give it another shot!  You can come and raise a glass with me at the end and celebrate as can everyone else, I'm so looking forward to next year there's nothing I want to do more on my birthday than another Great Walk and if I can improve my time that'll be the icing on the cake.  I love the balloons at checkpoint 9 - they always feel like my own personal birthday balloons.  Everyone who finishes has good reason to celebrate.  Elaine. 

P.S.  If you want out of Tahsis sooner, fly with Air Nootka – we did, they will send the plane as early as you like and you’ll have a wonderful 20 minute scenic flight back to Gold River.  Thanks to the wonderful volunteers we’ve never had a problem getting a ride down to the dock.