BY RYAN WELLICOME
The third annual Bill’s Trail Run promises to be the Bill Nielsen Trail Society’s (BNTS) largest event to date with close to 300 participants lacing up their running shoes.
The event – scheduled for Oct. 1st – is the Society’s major yearly fundraiser, with approximately 100 volunteers managing the event and the proceeds benefiting BNTS.
“This is probably going to be our biggest run yet,” said President of the Bill Nielsen Trail Society Larry Michielsen. “It’s a very important run for us this year.”
The Society’s Vice President Diane Foster attested to the scale of this year’s run stating that there are participants coming from around the province – many that knew or were affected by Nielsen personally – including ultra-marathoners and even a few international friends.
“There is a lot of people coming out,” she said.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will go towards equipment and the maintenance of approximately 16 kms of natural trails in and around Lacombe along with a cause unique to this year’s event.
In addition to honouring its namesake, this year’s run will also honour one of BNTS’s founding members Linda Ethier. A portion of funds garnered from the event will go towards paying for a memorial bench for Ethier, placed along Nielsen’s Trail.
Earlier this year on the morning of Jan. 2nd, as Ethier was jogging in downtown Lacombe, she was fatally struck by a pickup truck.
In accordance with Bill’s Trail Run, Ethier’s family plans to hold a fun run on the same date in Ethier’s home town of Dundas, Ontario which will also raise funds for the memorial bench.
Instead of using t-shirts as this year’s runner swag, BNTS decided to create reflective buffs. The buffs are orange camouflage with a reflective strip on one side and a blue sailboat in one corner. The sailboat represents Ethier and her love of being on the water.
“She was so into boats and canoeing and stuff like that,” said Foster.
BNTS was formed in 2014 following the passing of Nielsen, the architect of Lacombe’s natural trail system.
Nielsen spent hours cultivating and maintaining the current trail system, mostly as a one man show.
“He used to spend 40 hours a week working on the trails by himself,” said Michielsen.
Foster said Nielsen would encourage everyone to run no matter their skill; constantly preaching the benefits running holds.
Nielsen was an avid marathoner. He ran in 100 marathons, 30 of which he ran while afflicted by Parkinson Disease.
BNTS has plans to continue Nielsen’s work and wishes to expand on the current trail system, adding more links and trails bordering nearby lakes and ponds.
According to Michielsen, the Society wishes to keep the trails as natural as possible instead of paving, citing that natural trails have lower impact on the body – particularly the knees – and provide greater stress reducing benefits.
The run is broken up into four routes – 2 kms, 5 kms, 10 kms, and the 10-mile Nielsen special.
Registration is open until 9 a.m. on Oct. 1st. The Bill Nielsen Trail Society can be contacted at email@example.com. More information can be found at www.billstrailrun.com or on the Society’s facebook page, www.facebook.com/billnielsentrailrun.