Runners explode of the finish line at the 2016 Run For Water event. This year’s race is set for May 29. (File photo)

Runners explode of the finish line at the 2016 Run For Water event. This year’s race is set for May 29. (File photo)

Abbotsford’s Run For Water returns to traditional format for 15th edition

Local fundraising event set for May 29 at Mill Lake Park, first group run since 2019

After facing a number of challenges due to the pandemic, the annual Run For Water event returns to its traditional roots on May 29.

Runners return to the trails at Abbotsford’s Mill Lake Park with both a five-kilometre fun run and 10 km run. Also back is the Run For Water trail race on May 28, which sees participants take on either a 10 km or 25 km challenge on the rugged single-track of Sumas Mountain.

This year marks the 15th year of the event occurring in Abbotsford and executive director Peg Peters it has been an amazing run, both literally and figuratively. Thousands have participated and the events have raised over $5 million to help make water more accessible Ethiopians.

“2.1 million people now have access to clean water because of what we’ve done here in Abbotsford,” he said. “But to me it’s really the impact the event has had on our community. Thousands of people across the Lower Mainland have given back and recognized how good we have it here in Canada and it’s part of the ethos of their life.”

Peters said the event touches all members of the community.

“I’m really proud of the impact we’ve had engaging businesses, schools, donors, churches and temples,” he said. “This is one of the only events that crosses all of those barriers. It doesn’t matter your background – we all believe we have so much here and we have an opportunity to give back and be united as a community. I’m really proud of what we have created here in Abbotsford – we’re a globally minded community that wants to make a difference.”

RELATED: VIDEO: Run For Water 2018

The pandemic was rough on the event, as the 2020 event transformed into the Alone Together Run – a virtual format race that saw runners submit times online and choose a distance to run. Last year saw the Upstream Challenge concept come into effect, as participants were given a number of different competitive and non-competitive outdoor activities to complete. Both new twists were well-received, but Peters said he thinks returning to the traditional format will be a good thing, but admitted that registration has been off to a slower start.

RELATED: Abbotsford’s Run For Water transforms into Upstream Challenge for 2021

“We had this huge momentum in 2019 and it’s this huge machine and then COVID hits and everything goes silent,” he said. “So we’ve had two years of virtual runs and it’s just taking a little longer to get the traction going again. We have found that people are a bit slower to do long term planning right now, but we’re confident things will pick up as we get closer to the race.”

Peters added that the volunteer base is solid, but they are always looking for more extra help.

The 2013 edition of the event was one of the early breakthroughs, with 4,830 runners hitting the streets and $358,000 raised. The event continued to grow in the years following. Peters said he hopes to rebuild the race and it all begins with the 15th edition.

“To see everyone at the start line again and getting that nervous excitement,” he said. “I just can’t wait to get back to being live again.”

He added that the event’s new partnership with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is a game changer and will be a big benefit to the event this year and moving forward.

For more information and details on how to register or donate, visit runforwater.ca.

abbotsfordrunningTrailsWater