It was a perfect day for a race on the morning of Sunday, May 8, as more than 120 competitors gathered together in the forest outside of Beachburg to participate in the second annual Beachburg Off-Road Cycling Association (BORCA) Spring Chicken Run, a combined offroad event that featured a 5-kilometre and 10-kilometre cross-country run and a 50-kilometre mixed-surface endurance bicycle race, running over paved and upaved roads, ATV trails and paths through the woods.
Cameron Dube, one of the event organizers and an outdoor education teacher at Algonquin College, was glad to see the weather cooperating this year - last year the racers faced nearly freezing temperatures, along with sleet and snow.
The organization, which is still in the process of establishing itself as an official non-profit association, is a truly grassroots co-operative, started originally as a way of getting more recreational traffic along off-road trails in an effort to dissuade the dumping of garbage in the otherwise pristine forests of Whitewater Region Township.
The other benefit to hosting an increasingly high-profile race in the area is that it provides a draw for surrounding recreationalists to find a new playground.
"The idea for Beachburg right now," Dube says, "is to get the awareness out of riding in this area, in Whitewater Township. We see a lot of development stress in the Ottawa and Kanata Lakes area. Which is a great area for riding, but every day it shrinks from big box shops going in and housing, so we foresee all that population of riders coming out this way to ride."
Another leg up for the fledgling association is the already-established base population of outdoor enthusiasts, attracted by the world-renowned white water of the nearby Ottawa River.
"People who live in this immediate Whitewater area, they know that world-class rapids exist, and we're kind of feeding off that. We're letting them know that these trails exist around here, so there are other things to do. We all paddle, and we can all play on the land as well."
So far, the Chicken Run has received the overwhelming support of the community itself, as well.
"The landowners in the area are wicked," says Dube (wicked means great, by the way). "I'll go up to them and ask them 'do you mind if we run our race course through here?' and obviously they want to see insurance, and we provide that for them, but everyone's just amazing. The whole community's wicked about it."
This year's run saw an increase in competitors over last year, bringing the total number of runners and cyclists to around 125.
In the five-kilometre race, Clinton Fitzpatrick posted the fastest overall time, completing the race in 21 minutes and nine seconds. Carmen Kuntz was second overall with her time of 30:38, and Adrian Woodfine came in third with a time of 32:35.
In the 10K race, Dana Buchanan took top spot, finishing in 40:37, mere seconds faster than J.P. Sauvé, who posted a time of 40:40. Ian Rae's 42:03 time was good enough for third overall.
Jean-Christoph Vialaret finished the 50-kilometre bike race in two hours, 24 minutes and three seconds. Marcel Vautour was second overall, finishing in 2:26:11, and David Munden was third-fastest, posting a time of 2:32:58.
Each of the three races was divided into six divisions, with an under-15, 16-39 and 40-plus segment for both males and females. Full results will be posted at http://bikebeachburg.blogspot.com.
Ryan Paulsen is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist. Follow him on Twitter @PRyanPaulsen