Lack of interest cancels Great Lake Walk for second year

It looks like a Cowichan Lake tradition may be silently slipping away.

The 56-kilometre Great Lake Walk ultramarathon, which hit the Island’s fitness world with tremendous fanfare and fan support in September 2002, was not held in 2013 and a decision was made recently to give 2014 a pass as well.

A quiet Facebook post said: "There will be no Great Lake Walk for 2014. Details to follow."

The details are heartbreaking for Walk Society Chair Joan Hieta and the volunteers who’ve worked hard to keep the event alive for more than a decade.

"There just weren’t enough walkers. It was such a hard decision. Last year anything that could go wrong went wrong and we just didn’t get the numbers."

Organizers thought offering people a chance to walk in teams, like a relay, would encourage more people to at least try the 56-kilometre walk around Cowichan Lake but the results were discouraging.

"We thought that team thing would work, but it didn’t," Hieta said. "It’s kind of hard to mess with something established like that, you know. The team thing is a good idea but the devout walkers wanted to keep it the way it was. And there just aren’t enough of them any more."

The Great Lake Walk group has not made any kind of a decision about 2015, she said.

"We’re not publicly putting that out there yet. We haven’t closed down the society or anything like that. We’re just going to watch and see where it goes.

Numbers of registrants have fallen off in recent years as the enthusiastic participants of previous Walks have grown older and new ones have not signed up to take their places, Hieta said more than a year ago.

Even cancelling 2013 has not stirred sufficient response.

"We haven’t had much reaction from not having it last September. Usually about this time of the year we start getting emails from people but we’ve basically had nothing so it’s hard to say for the future." But, as far as 2014 goes, the walk is definitely not going to happen.