MANITOWANING – The annual Assiginack Track event for the students at Assiginack Public School (APS) in Manitowaning has adapted to physical distancing requirements and expanded to encourage community members of all ages to join in for bragging rights and a certificate.
“We’ve been hosting APS for the last few years for their track day; our public works sets up the track with all the lines and the school comes over for the day,” said Township of Assiginack events co-ordinator Jackie White. “We felt it was another small thing kids were going to be missing out on.”
Organizers brainstormed and came up with a solution, inspired by a friend of Ms. White’s from Northwest Territories who took part in a virtual run—she ran a prescribed route independently and sent in her time, then received a certificate.
It was a winning solution and the Assiginack Arena track is getting set up to do just the same.
Rather than having the students run together, they can visit the track at any point between June 15 and 22 and complete a time trial for any or all of the race lengths.
“Of course, all the social distancing requirements still apply,” said Ms. White, referencing the provincial restrictions on gatherings of no more than five people (10 come Friday) maintaining a distance of at least two metres between people and wearing a face mask (though perhaps not while huffing and puffing during a run).
Parents and township residents of all ages are welcome to take part, too.
“It’s great that everyone is following the restrictions like they’re supposed to, but mental health has got to be taking a toll. At least with the nice weather, people can take this opportunity to get out and do something positive for their physical and mental health,” said Ms. White.
There are a variety of race lengths from which to choose. On the track, runners and walkers can compete in 100-, 200-, 400- and 800-metre races.
There are two long-distance routes as well: two and five kilometres, respectively. These follow routes on the streets in and around Manitowaning that are already well-travelled by area runners.
Anyone who takes part should take a photo of themselves in action to prove they ran the length, as well as record the time it took. Assiginack will be sharing a Facebook post on June 23 for participants to upload their times.
Those who want a certificate of participation can email firstname.lastname@example.org with the proof as outlined above, along with their mailing address. Besides the certificate, they will net a participation prize—Loco Beanz Manitowaning/Cedar Chalet Country Diner has promised $5 gift certificates to every certificate holder.
“It’s nice for the students to get to use our marked, measured track, and this is a good way to get adults included, too. Chances are a lot of them will be driving their kids here so it’s just a way that we can all be more physically active,” said Ms. White.
The township is adapting as best it can to the new realities of the pandemic. It has created digital outreach activities from trivia questions to photo contests and maintains a limited number of in-person badminton slots.
“We do what we can and are always open to suggestions. Hopefully things will ease a bit while keeping everyone safe at the same time, so that’s why we’re offering small events that can at least get people out doing something they enjoy,” said Ms. White. “We’re so fortunate to live on Manitoulin.”
For event details and route maps for the long races, visit assiginack.ca/events/assiginack-track-socially-distanced.