People all over the Lacombe County area participated in a fun and lighthearted event named after a far more serious historical figure. The Louis Riel Race, on May 13 entailed a course that went along paths, roads and even the Medicine River.
The event was done for the sake of a little competition, and to raise funds for the two community centres involved in the race.
The race began near the Gimlet Community Centre, with its eventual endpoint located at the Gilby Community Centre. Participating teams split their talent between the several legs of the race. The race consisted of a 2-mile run; a mile-long horseback ride; a 3-mile bike ride and a 6-mile canoe trip that involved a portage as well, so that it was split between two different parts of a team.
“It’s more or less just a fun event. We get a lot of entries, and it’s about $200 a team to enter. That pays for everyone getting a t-shirt, and a beef on a bun dinner afterwards,” said Tanner Lawton, President of the Gimlet Community Centre. “We don’t make a lot of money from these events, but what we do make goes toward the Gimlet and Gilby Community Centres.”
Lawton said that this year’s race was the second recent one, after its revival. He added that although he didn’t recall what exact years the race was held in before, that it used to take place in the 80s.
“My dad saw a race like it in Manitoba on TV. He fired it up himself, here, and the last year they had it in this area [before it was more recently revived] was 1987,” said Lawton.
Lawton said that despite the initially chilly weather and the lengths spectators had to go to, to be able to watch the entirety of the race, it was a fun weekend that both spectators and participants enjoyed.
“People were cold in the morning, but everyone was excited to get going. Everyone wanted to watch, so there were a lot of people rushing to get to exchange points, and then running around to get to the next exchange point, so they could watch the race,” said Lawton. “There was lots of moving around going on, but it was nothing too serious – just a good, fun weekend.”