Canadian Ski Marathon fêtes 55th 12 months with month-long digital occasion


With the annual nordic ski occasion transferring on-line, folks registered from as far-off as Antartica, New Zealand, Switzerland and the U.Ok.

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To Ian Aitken and his household, February has historically meant taking part within the Canadian Ski Marathon (CSM). He’s appreciative his annual cross-country snowboarding custom hasn’t been interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It takes a little bit extra self-discipline to do one thing by your self than whenever you’re (accustomed to being) surrounded by many others,” mentioned Aitken, 56, the president of Pembroke Wealth Management. “This 12 months, all of us wanted one thing constructive to sit up for — a superb purpose to be outdoors and get some train.”

With giant outside gatherings prohibited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers of the CSM, launched in 1967, have been in a quandary. And with fastened prices within the $75,000 vary, the organizers realized holding some form of an occasion was paramount for its survival.

Usually held the primary or second weekend in February, and consisting of a 160-km path break up over two days within the Laurentian and Outaouais areas, the organizers determined to go digital between Feb. 6 and March 7.

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Beneath the digital format, contributors resolve between three routes — from a 15-km tour, to a 45-km half-marathon or the hardest, a two-day trek masking 50-km every day and involving sleeping outdoor. The contributors log their time, posting it on-line.

“While you don’t have a grandiose occasion, it’s the camaraderie that’s misplaced,” mentioned Sylvain Mother or father, the president of the CSM board. “We’re disenchanted, however we’re extraordinarily ecstatic the group’s coming collectively, whereas being distant, to register, ensuring the occasion survives.”

In a traditional 12 months, the occasion attracts as many as 1,500 contributors, Mother or father mentioned. This 12 months, he hoped for half that quantity. As a substitute, he mentioned he was pleasantly shocked when about 1,800 folks registered.

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With the storied nordic ski occasion — the longest of its type in North America — on-line, folks registered from as far-off as Antartica, New Zealand, Switzerland and the UK. Final 12 months, earlier than the pandemic struck, Mother or father mentioned some Russians made the journey to Quebec.

Aitken first participated in 1981, when he was in highschool. He now partakes together with his spouse, Mary, and three youngsters. Even his 81-year-old mother-in-law did a 15-km run in Gatineau Park lately.

“As a result of we take pleasure in snowboarding, it’s not painful to go on the market,” Aitken mentioned. “It’s a superb excuse. And to be a part of one thing that’s constructive this 12 months is all of the extra necessary.

“You possibly can sit at residence and mope about and fear concerning the future and complain concerning the issues which have been cancelled, or you may say, ‘right here’s one thing I can do.’

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“I’m an enormous believer that issues which have been going for a very long time have to proceed,” he mentioned. “You don’t need it to cease. If it does, it’d by no means begin once more.”

Aitken does most of his snowboarding on Mount Royal. He additionally skis by means of the Orford Provincial Park, close to Magog. In the course of the opening weekend of the occasion, he skied 50 km on Saturday and Sunday, additionally deciding to sleep outdoors, at his cottage close to Georgeville, south of Magog. He did it once more the subsequent weekend.

“It’s an attractive expertise to search for on the stars in the course of winter and understand you’re good and heat in your sleeping bag,” he mentioned. “If in case you have the appropriate tools to remain heat, the snowboarding is tougher than the tenting.

“And,” he added, “winter tenting means no bugs.”

To register, go to www.skimarathon.ca.

hzurkowsky@postmedia.com

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