Abbotsford’s streets echoed with the sound of running shoes, cheering spectators and runners in various states of exhaustion on Sunday as thousands participated in the eighth annual Envision Financial Run for Water.
On a warm and inviting late May morning, hundreds of supporters lined the route, many holding signs with encouraging messages like “Run, Forrest, Run” and “Just do it.”
Several musical performers also played along the route, including a drum corps that gave an extra push to runners as they neared the finish line.
A total of 3,444 registered runners took part in this year’s event. Participants ranged from former and current high-level runners to school groups and families who ran the five-kilometre fun run together. Money from the run will go towards providing access to clean water for people in Yella, Ethiopia.
“It was an epic year,” said Ken Baerg, chair of the organizing committee. “It was amazing.”
Although there were fewer runners this year, attributable to the fact that anticipated road construction led to the cancellation of the marathon, more money was raised.
Baerg said the event had raised $312,000. That’s up from $253,000 last year and brings the eight-year total to around $1.5 million
Every $35 raised by this year’s event will provide water for life for one person in Ethiopia. That, in turn, will allow hundreds of girls to go to school instead of walking hours each day to retrieve drinking water.
“We exceeded our expectations,” Baerg said following the run. “Around 9,000 people will have their lives changed.”
Even before any runners had put shoes to pavement, thousands of dollars had been raised, much of it by local schoolchildren, who raised nearly $75,000, a total that was then matched by Valley Pulp and Sawdust.
A big thank you to Abbotsford Christian Secondary for raising over $10,000! #RunForWater
— RunforWater (@RunforWater) May 31, 2015
Baeg also was happy to see the good weather encouraging runners to stick around Mill Lake Park after they were finished. Every participant received a medal — along with much needed refreshments after the event. Mill Lake Park was also packed with vendors offering free gifts, including ice cream, which was the most popular.
“It makes a huge difference,” he said of the weather.
Baerg saw first-hand the effect of the Run for Water’s efforts during a trip to Ethiopia with his daughter earlier this year.
He said that made this year’s event even more special than the seven previous runs he has taken part in.
“We saw first-hand the difference clean water actually makes,” he said. “My daughter could see girls her age carrying water back and forth and the fact that they can’t go to school because they have to fetch water everyday … and the sicknesses that are there because of the dirty water.”
“This year is a pretty special year,” he said.
“It’s amazing to see,” Baerg said.
Money from this year’s event is anticipated to pay for the laying 19 kilometres of piping, and the adding of three spring caps, and 46 water points.
-with files from Vikki Hopes
Rotich claims half-marathon crown
Kenyan Solomon Rotich won the half-marathon in a time of 1:08:47, more than a minute better than fellow Kenyan Leonard Kipkoech. Former Canadian Team member David Jackson, who now teaches at Mennonite Education Institute, finished third, just three seconds back of Kipkoech.
Chris Voth of Vancouver finished fifth, followed by Abbotsford’s Ryan Prachnau. More than 500 people took part in the half-marathon.
Vancouver’s Lissa Zimmer was the first woman to cross the finish line with a time of 1:20:54, good for ninth overall. While former Vancouver International Marathon champion Kimberley finished second among the women, followed by Rika Hatachi. Abbotsford’s Suzy Hutchins finished sixth among the women, while Amy Rempel finished ninth and Fransesca Jackman finished 11th.
Other top Abbotsford runners among the men included Russ Esau, who finished eighth, Yanbo Niu, who finished 19th, George Bousserki, who finished 20th, and Nicholas Penner, who finished 21st.
Tyler Ginter of Surrey has the best time in the 10-kilometre run, finishing in 35 minutes and 26 seconds. Kirill Solovyev of West Vancouver and Christopher Lennox of Langley finished second and third, while Abbotsford’s Darcy Lainchbury finished fourth and was the top local. Other top Abbotsford runners included Aaron Mulama, who finished eighth, Jacob Katerberg, who finished ninth, and Darren Koop, who finished 10th. The run featured nearly 900 runners.
Chilliwack’s Melanie Kassel had the fastest time among time among the woman and sixth-fastest overall. She was followed by Lana Guthrie and Tara Paterson, who were also both from Chilliwack. Abbotsford’s Lori Van Dyk and Natalie De Wit finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
More than 2,000 men, women and children took part in the five-kilometre fun run, with Jordan Barr posting the top time, finishing in 18:11. Sarya Ross finished 30 seconds back, followed by Jessica Kampman – who ran in the 11-to-13-year-old female category – and Dan Stefanson.
Baerg said there was an impressive number of children not only participating in the five-kilometre run, but beating many of the adults with sub-20-minute times.
“It’s pretty cool to see.”
For complete results, visit: http://abbotsford.runforwater.ca/
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