WIIKWEMKOONG—The rain largely held off on Sunday morning as walkers and runners in the annual Wiikwemkoong 10k Road Race lined up at their respective starting lines for the 50th edition of the popular race. We say 50th edition rather than annual as the race began in 1976 and for a while the race was held twice a year.
The signature race began at 9 am, with a large, determined group of runners setting off into the damp morning mists from the chalk starting line etched onto the pavement.
While waiting for the starting whistle, old hands shared stories of races past.
“It’s always nice to be greeted by the rez dogs while you are running,” said Gerry Holliday, whose name appears a number of times on the Wiikwemkoong Road Race trophy. But in the early days of the race down Kaboni Road, the road was gravel and the companions varied. “One year, I looked over to see what I thought was a dog coming running after me,” said Mr. Holliday, who took a double take when he realized just what was chasing him. “It was a pig!” he exclaimed. Mr. Holliday eventually pulled away from his porcine pacer, but found his story met with skepticism. “Nobody would believe me, but out from the driveway came a pig,” he laughed.
Race-co-founder Larry LeBlanc was on hand for the awards luncheon following the race. He recalled running with Scotty Fisher (Odjig) ba in the early days as he chatted with old friend Cindy Ominika. “Scotty gave me the best advice,” recalled Ms. Ominika. She had voiced her concern about not being able to beat most of the other runners. “He said ‘you are not running against anyone, you are running with yourself’,” she said. “I have always kept that advice in my heart.”
Race organizer Amanda Trudeau shared some of the annual Wiky 10km Road Race with the participants at the awards luncheon held in the Pontiac School gymnasium.
“The 10km race was first known as the ‘Kaboni Road Race’,” she said. “The goal was to encourage students to be more active. The visionaries and founders of the road race were the Wiikwemkoong Board of Education staff: Henry Hoy, Larry LeBlanc and Sara Peltier.
The record holders of the race included Gerry Halliday for winning the most races between 1977 and 1982 and Neild Phipps from 2011 to 2015. The winningest female runner was Sara McIiraith, who won in 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2021.
“Notable road race winners were Randy Rivers (1976), Jeffrey Eshkawkogan (1980 and 81), Danny Cooper (1985), Dean Cooper (1987), Jeremy Cooper (2008/09/10) and Aurel Fox (2018/2020/21).
The Wiikwemkoong Health Centre took over organizing the race in 2007.
“Throughout the years, this event has brought families together,” said Ms. Trudeau. “Generations of runners have formed unity and friendships.”
Ms. Trudeau gave a shout out to Frank Fisher (Odjig), who at 80 completed the 10 km and beat his last year time by three minutes.
“I came first in my division,” said Mr. Fisher, adding with a laugh, “I also came last.” As an 80-year-old competitor (walking), Mr. Fisher was in a class by himself.
Race results were: children’s division 11-13, male, Wasmowin Beaudry ($100) first, Julian Luoma ($75) second, Brayden Wabuno ($50) third. Among female competitors Lily Beaudry ($100) came first and Maryliah Beaudry ($75) second.
In the children’s 10 and under division, first male was Lachland Eshkawkogan ($100), Cohen Wabuno ($75) second and Daxton Wabuno ($50) third. First female was Haileigh Simon ($100).
In the high school male division, Julian Wemigwans took first place ($500) and in the female division Maren Kasunich took first ($500), Ava Corbiere took second ($250) and Emery Watson took third ($150).
In the adult 19-54 years division, Neil Maholanobis took first prize of $500 with a time of 36:17.1, Ted Hanley took second prize of $250 (37:44.5) and Aurel Fox-Recollet took third for $150 (37:50.2). In the female division Hannah Brown took first for $500 (47:34:7), Sierra Pangowish took second with $250 (47:47.3) and Julie Hayes took third for $150 (50:17.8).
In the senior adult division, Neil Phipps took first place for $500 (37:59.4), Norm Lonergan took second for $250 (46:14.5) and Edwin Toulouse took third for $150 (47:16.0). In the female category, Sara McIiraith took first for $500 (40:52.4), Lorrilee McGregor took second for $250 (52:36.4) and Leeann Dokum took third for $150 (59:08.7).
Complete race results and times can be found online at zone4.ca/race/2022-10-16/7a451e44/results.