By Leslie Ann Bent
March 10, 2019, East Sooke - What do 150 Vancouver Island runners, silk scarves and 5,000 destroyed schools have in common? If you were part of the Another Brick in Nepal Trail Race this weekend in East Sooke Park you would know!
This weekend marked the second annual Another Brick in Nepal Trail Race (East Sooke), with the goal of helping to raise funds to rebuild schools in Nepal that were destroyed following the 2015 the severe earthquake and its aftershocks. This year’s goal is to raise $50,000 to rebuild a secondary school in the Sankhuwasava, an eastern district of Nepal. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake destroyed a million homes and 5,000 schools, and killed approximately 9,000 people. Rebuilding is a massive undertaking that will take years for recovery. Another Brick in Nepal has already re-built one school and furnished a school in Kathmandu.
The race offers 5k and 10k options and takes place at the Aylard Farm section of East Sooke Park. The organizers wanted to make the race atmosphere more Nepali themed this time so that the participants could at least have a sense of what they were running for (more on that below). About 150 runners joined the cause this year, up from about 120 last year. The event is not chip timed.
I caught up with our own club member, Carol Spychka, to find out more about the race and to inspire more club members to take part in this local run next year. I hope I’ve captured the spirit of our conversation.
Q: What inspired you to participate in this event?
A: We had friends killed in the earthquake and so this event really hits home with us – a cause close to our hearts. The race is a way to gave back and be at a local event that supports a tremendous cause.
Q: Tell us about the race course.
A: First of all it is rugged trail. The scenery is breathtaking, passing two ocean views along the way. The trail is mostly single track and difficult to pass people once you get into your position. You really had to watch your footing and be aware of the trail. Don’t do this race if you want a PB! If you know East Sooke Park and the area around Aylard Farm, you might be familiar with the trail that took us to “the old cabin.” This is a challenging course and I’d say we did more climbing than running. A few people did get lost but it was mostly well marked and well supported. I personally loved the course. It was awesome.
Q: What were the best parts of the race?
A: Besides the scenic trail route, the great part of the race was the run for connection. We were all running for the same cause and doing it on rough terrain. For example, I was about the same pace with another woman and we got chatting. She was from Duncan and we had a lot in common besides our well-matched paces and mid-pack comfort. I really met a new friend on the course. We even exchanged email addresses. My STARR jacket also inspired discussion after the race including talk about local trails.
Second, the food was “to die for.” The Mint Restaurant in Victoria provided the food and it was just “crazy delicious.” Most races have food but not a full meal. The Nepali main dishes were great – rice, chicken, curry, and chickpeas if I remember correctly. The Level Ground coffee was also excellent. There were lots of additional choices including fruit, cookies, and jujubes.
Q: How was the organization of the race and on course support?
A: A father and daughter team ran the event. Their hearts were completely into the cause and it showed. The communication was excellent and so right up until race day the participants knew what was happening. There were volunteers in key critical points of the race. There was also an aid station on the route. Although no spectators were out on the course, one family spontaneously came back out onto the path near the end to high 5 and cheer on runners as they reached the “2k to go” marker. This was encouraging and an unexpected surprise. The little things also made the race memorable - the Nepali food, and instead of finishers medals, every participant received a Nepali made silk scarf. Each scarf was unique and it was a great way to walk away from the race and reflect on why we were there.
Q: Would you recommend this event for others in the club and if so why?
A: There are a number of reasons I’d recommend it:
1. It is a local race and really a gift to have such a great event so close to home
2. The course is fabulous
3. Proceeds are for a great cause and 100% are used for the school building project
4. Great time of the year, although had the weather been wet, the already challenging course would have been harder
5. As far as I know, it is the only CRD-approved race to start in East Sooke Park. Take advantage!
6. Value – It costs only $35 plus all of the perks (food, scarf, supporting a great cause, trail experience, meeting new people)
Anyone interested in running or participating in some way should check out these websites.