Hope Running Club member, Miles Bissky poses with potential future members, Espen Bissky (his son, left) and Jack Campbell at the site of a new running track. The 333 metre track will run along the inside of the fence line at the old C.E. Barry school grounds. Kendrick Bissky photo

Hope soon to have a safe running space

Work at old C.E. Barry school grounds to begin as weather permits

A major disappointment turned out to be a minor setback, for a local group with a goal of creating a running track for Hope.

In the fall of 2017, the Hope Running Club was plugged into a contest sponsored by Aviva Insurance. Community groups across Canada that garnered the most votes of support would win up to $100,000 to put toward a local project.

The HRC used social media to drum up a lot of votes but fell short of their quest, to get funding for a track on the old C.E. Barry school grounds.

“Unfortunately we didn’t make the final — but we faired very well against other projects from much larger communities,” said member Dave Murphy on Nov. 1, in a post on the club’s Facebook page. “We will continue to pursue ways of securing funding to make the project happen.”

The pursuit didn’t take long — and didn’t have to go far. School District 78, the club’s partners in the contest application, have found a way to make the track a reality.

Board chair Linda Kerr said Murphy and Jeff Kuhn had made their initial presentation on behalf of the running club in June, as the deadline for entering the Aviva contest was coming up.

“When we found out that the project could not be funded via the contest, several people suggested it go to the school district’s operations and facilities committee for them to consider,” said Kerr.

“As far as I know, the area for the proposed track is available with only a little movement of existing structures,” added Kerr. “A figure of $30,000 was suggested, but the project might come in at a little more if part of one fence line has to be shifted.”

Thirty thousand dollars won’t buy a rubberized eight-lane track but it will provide a three-metre-wide weatherproof path, made of packed crusher dust that is separated from traffic and aggressive dogs.

The planned track would be 333.3 metres long and would fit inside the existing fenced field, said HRC member, Miles Bissky.

“We figured that 333.3 metres would be a good distance because it divides nicely into 1 kilometre over three laps,” said Bissky. “400 metres is a preferable distance because it’s a more standard size but we’ll still be able to mark out where 400 and 800 metres are.”

Five laps would equal just over one mile.

“I’m excited about it, to have a safe place to run interval training,” said Bissky. “It’s hard to find a safe place to run hard in town without having to worry about traffic. When you’re running hard, your mind sometimes can’t make good decisions about intersections.

“It will be a good place for us to run when the roads are icy, as gravel tends to have better grip than concrete when it’s icy — and it’s also a really good resource for the town for sports days, as well as training for cross country and track running for high school students.”

Bissky said it would also be a great place to learn to run, where you can walk a lap and run a lap. As well, walkers could use it for a measured walk on a surface softer than pavement or concrete.

Kerr said the project would be totally funded from the board’s coffers, with work being done by school district crews and district machinery.

“Any project that can benefit both the students of the area and the adults, too, is a worthy one,” said Kerr.

“We are fortunate to have a board that looks at the big picture when they vote at the board table, and not just the area which they represent.

“We are also fortunate to have a Secretary-Treasurer who is capable and conservative, so that we have the funds to make this project a reality — and we have an operations guru who can create the right space.”

The project will begin as weather permits and will take a week or two to complete, operations supervisor Doug Templeton said Wednesday.

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In other running news, the inaugural Hope Flexburn 5 and 10K run has about 200 registrants so far, with numbers building as the March 18 event draws closer. Organizers have received the medals, which will be part of every participant’s race package.

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