BPMR Running on Volunteer Energy

The route for the 9th Bruce Peninsula Multisport Race will be scouted over the next couple of weeks by new Race Director Bob Miller and local athlete Jack Van Dorp.  Miller was brought on as an additional race director for local non-profit PASA this past winter and got his first taste of Wiarton back on Groundhog Day organizing the 5K Groundhog Jog.  If you know a bit about adventure racing in Canada, or if you’re eagle-eyed and have browsed the BPMR Wikipedia page, you’ll wonder if it’s the same Bob Miller who currently owns the 5h 45min course record. It is.

When it’s ready, The “Owen Sound Subaru” Long Course at the BPMR will eventually be flagged by volunteers, then raced by 85 athletes, and then de-flagged again on race weekend, August 9-11th, 2019.  An additional 215 racers are signed up for the more-forgiving Suntrail Course and various “duathlons” that make up the rest of the racing events. The amazing aspect of this race from the point of view of a spectator, is that occasionally you have paddlers racing right beside runners.  Tthere are four different iterations of the race and they all take place concurrently.  The Long Course is set at approx 100km and the shorter distance is approx 28-30km.  Both long and sprint courses are a mix of paddling, mountain biking and trail running.  Even the Summer House Park Kids Race in Bluewater Park in Wiarton operates concurrently with the races, with the kids sharing the same finish line arch as the big racers.

The event has operated in the past with anywhere from 150 to 170 volunteers, but they always do the work of the 200 ideally required, according to the organizers.  This year will likely be no exception, as there are only 100 signed up with 3 weeks to go, so a big recruitment push is currently underway for the next 100.  Volunteer coordinators Amanda Herbert and Cally Mann are thankful for any assistance in getting warm bodies out to the various roles, so if you’re not signed up to help just yet get in touch with them at bpmrvolley@gmail.com and if you’ve already signed up as a volunteer, well, be sure to ask a couple of friends to come with you.  All volunteers get a technical tshirt and a BBQ lunch, along with some basic safety training.  The Georgian Bay amateur radio operators club out of Owen Sound are back, thanks to Frank Gufler and his HAM radio enthusiasts.  Gufler will connect the peninsula on a big HAM radio “chat line” again this year to support the race safety operations, chatting anytime anywhere with emergency personnel and the safety volunteers at PASA.  This ensures it’s all-hands-on-deck if a racer happens to get lost, which happens regularly.

“This year, for the first time, the shorter Suntrail Course sold out before the Subaru Long Course,”  says former event director Leigh Grigg, who remains actively involved in the organization, “it all sold out back in that snow-covered “early spring,” back when Wiarton Willie’s prediction was being severely questioned. In the last couple of days however, there have been a couple of random race entries released: entries that were held for sponsors.  Anyone who’s been considering racing absolutely has to try this race in it’s current form because next year’s our 10th anniversary and we’re switching up the courses again.  We’re also powered by Bullfrog Power this year, a Canadian green energy company, and every year we get a bit better at reducing our impact on the environment in a few new ways.  Just make sure you know how to get out of an overturned kayak please, that’s really all we ask before you sign up to race.”

Van Dorp is also returning to lead a team of volunteers, but this time in a dual role as both a relay teammate and a long course volunteer.  Jack knows how to get out of an overturned kayak.  He’volunteerss been racing — and winning —  multisport races since he was young.  Aside from those mentioned, there is also the growing race committee who are also playing a big part with the event.  You can learn more about the people involved, and the beneficiary/cause by visiting Our Team and you can sign up with one of the last minute entries, or just learn who’s racing by visiting www.brucepeninsulamultisportrace.ca

Spectators are very much welcome at the finish line. There’s a festival in Bluewater Park with a kids race, live music, craft beer & cider tent, and BBQ’d local food throughout the Saturday.  There are also custom Limberlost Stone medals and random prizes given away in the late afternoon, but the real attraction is the friendly Wiarton crowd that gathers in the park to cheer on the racers.

“This race is nuts, there’s nothing like it on the planet.” continues Grigg. “In 2011 we had a kid squeak past the long course winner, break the tape and steal the show… you just never know what to expect. The sense of community is really impressive when you have hundreds of volunteers, families, sponsors, landowners and fellow racers all cheering on racers who are dead-tired but pushing just a bit more with the help of the crowd. The MC has his work cut out for him.”

After all, at the finish line you never know if the winner’s going to be arriving on foot or by boat.

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